Use your website to respond to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak

Summary — People need to know whether — and how — your business has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and your website is the best, most-authoritative, centralized place to do it. Social media can be useful, too, but its strengths, priorities, and incentives are very different from yours. As an added bonus, this post includes a special offer for Tantramar Interactive Inc. customers.

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone — how has it changed your business? This is a question your customers are asking. Are you giving them answers?

It’s easy to be caught up in everything that’s happening and let your website slip. So much has changed and there’s more change to come.

Even if you’re maintaining hours, staffing, shipping schedules, people need to know. A business-as-usual approach to your website will leave people presuming there’s no one at the wheel, and you’ve simply neglected to update it. Even if nothing’s changed — say so. Confirmation is reassuring. Getting out ahead of things should also reduce incoming customer support questions.

Why on the website? Isn’t Facebook enough?

Of course you’ll post updates to Facebook or Twitter. Your website is better, though:

  • It’s centralized — making it easy to keep it up-to-date.
  • It’s authoritative — because it’s your website. It carries your branding and you alone control it. Your Facebook post or Tweet looks exactly like everyone else’s, so it gets lost in the shuffle.
  • It’s easier for people to find on your website than on social media, where
    • content is typically sorted algorithmically, prioritizing posts with high engagement — not by importance (and what’s important to you isn’t what’s important to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram)
    • social media platforms are difficult to search, because everything is assumed to be ephemeral — they’re all about the timeline/feed/stream. People aren’t expected to be looking for things from yesterday or last week.
    • the platforms’ inability and/or refusal to effectively curate the content they publish results in so much dis- and mis-information that it’s hard to know what to trust.

What to include

List changes to your days and hours of operation, product availability (quantity or delivery changes), staffing levels, policy or procedure changes you’ve put in place, restrictions you may need clients to observe — really anything your customers might want to know.

Point out that some things are beyond your control and may change very quickly. Recommend that people revisit your site for the latest updates.

Consider adding links to government websites (canada.ca, gnb.ca, who.int, etc., or similar sites that might be relevant to your business) as a helpful resource, and to help stop the spread of misinformation.

Where should it go?

The format will depend on how your site is currently set up and how detailed your announcement is.

Shorter messages can be posted on your home page; if you have a blog, a blog post is ideal. If a substantial portion of your visitors don’t start their visits to your site via the Home page, then getting a prominent link to the announcement in the site-wide header, footer, or sidebar might be adviseable.

How it’s done

Sackville-based Meals and More updated their site:

  • They included a prominent link from their home page and added it to their main navigation so it appears on every page.
  • They began with a clear statement that they’re still open
  • They outlined changes to their delivery methods — to ensure everyone’s safety
  • They encouraged bulk orders to minimize the risks of contact
  • They asked for feedback
  • They linked to official, government sources of up-to-date pandemic information

A special offer for Tantramar Interactive Inc. customers

This pandemic is going to be hard on everyone. To ease this a little, Tantramar Interactive Inc. will help existing clients with these updates free of charge for the next 60 days.

Please: stay home, practice social isolation, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and be safe — for you and for those around you.

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