Using Instagram to promote your business in the age of COVID-19

During a crisis, people tend to flock to social media for information, communication, and entertainment. Facebook and Instagram have witnessed a 40% surge in usage after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with views for Instagram Live and Facebook Live doubling in one week. So as people around the world are adjusting to the new normal of social distancing and self-quarantine, users are tuning in to live events, sharing updates and supporting one another with posts and comments.

However, just because people are spending more time online, it does not mean that they are most certainly interacting, communicating and engaging with your brand.

So as a business owner or a social media manager for a brand, how should you be using Instagram to promote your business in the age of COVID-19?

Here are five ways in which you can use Instagram to promote your business in the wake of this pandemic:

Provide accurate information

    At a time when the world is engulfed in an unprecedented crisis, Instagram with its overwhelming population is disseminating information and shaping public opinion.

    During such a crisis, employees, customers, clients and other stakeholders are overwhelmed with the volume of information being spread through various social media platforms. In such a situation, a company needs to provide accurate and consistent information to its internal and external audience, to maintain the credibility of the organization. For this purpose, the company should use its official Instagram handle to provide regular updates and developments within the organization.

    For instance, the online supermarket-shopping app Big Basket posted a video recently on Instagram about how they are taking care of the health and safety of their delivery executives during COVID-19.

    Show Concern

      Your target audience is spending more time online than they have ever before, so it does present you with a unique opportunity to deepen your relationship with your audience. However, you also cannot just be running business-as-usual, or you risk coming across as tone-deaf to an audience with heightened anxiety and sensitivities.

      Hence, now is the time to rise above mere business interests and ensure to develop a long-lasting relationship with your audience. It is important to show that your company is concerned about the well-being of all its stakeholders and you are doing your part to help them during such a crisis. For instance, the online food delivery app Zomato launched a ‘Zomato Gold Support Fund’ for its restaurant workers as they are facing the possibility of losing their livelihoods due to the coronavirus lockdown.

      Post Stories Regularly

        As a social media tool, Instagram is simple yet effective and can convert users to potential customers, and with the right communication strategies into customers. Posting stories regularly on Instagram is a great way to inform, communicate and engage with your followers.

        At a time when most of us are facing both personal and professional hardships, creating interesting stories for your Instagram followers can help in increasing brand affinity. Your stories can include games, social trends, contests, informative videos and others – anything to keep your audience engaged and entertained. For instance, the fashion brand Lakme has been posting various games for women, keeping in mind the current norms of social distancing and self-quarantine.

        Use Relevant Hashtags

          Posts about COVID-19 are flooding into social media so rapidly; it is often hard to know what deserves your attention. In such a situation, using proper and relevant hashtags in your posts and stories can increase your visibility and engagement.

          Hashtags like #Coronavirus, #COVID19, #Corona, #CoronavirusPandemic, #SocialDistancing, #SelfQuarantine, #Lockdown, #StayHome, #StaySafe, etc. are a few trending hashtags that you can use in your posts and stories. For Instance, the travel and hotel booking e-commerce website Ixigo used some of the above-mentioned hashtags in one of its videos on Instagram.

          Coming together through Instagram Live

            Back in the heydays, Instagram started as a mere photo and video sharing platform. Today, however, it has gained phenomenal popularity with more than 600 million active users posting, communicating and engaging with their favourite brands daily. Instagram live is another interesting way to connect with your followers in the wake of the situation. You can get influencers to do live videos about your brand, to receive higher engagement.

            For instance, international clothing brand Levi's has started a campaign called ‘5:01 LIVE’, where it has been doing live videos every weekday at 5:01 PM from March 24. In these videos, famous artists such as Snoop Dogg, Brett Young, Moses Sumney and others are performing live and encouraging followers to stay home and stay connected.

            Sandhya Sutodia is co-founder of Turiya Communications LLP