Although IDA has made her way out of Louisiana, we’re not out of the woods yet. We still have the rest of hurricane season to consider.
Plus, the hard work has just begun. Many small business owners are trying to figure out how to rebuild.
After the hurricane, you might not think about social media. Still, it’s one way you can communicate with your customers and stay in touch if they have been displaced by the hurricane. Here are some social media tips for small businesses that have been affected by a storm or a natural disaster.
Social media is one of the best ways to keep in touch with customers after a hurricane.
Many people will be without power during this time, so they’ll be using their phones or other smart devices to stay safe and get updates about the hurricane and restoration efforts.
According to The Pew Research Center, “40% of cell owners said they found themselves in an emergency situation in which having their phone with them helped.”
This puts small business owners at a huge advantage because they can use social media to keep their customers updated on what’s going on with the hurricane and the aftermath.
Post-Hurricane Social Media Tips for Small Businesses
Keeping your online presence up-to-date after natural disasters shows that you care about your customer’s safety and that you’re thinking of them during this time. Here are some small business social media post tips after hurricanes (and other disasters):
You may also want to read our post on Preparing Your Company Website For a Natural Disaster.
Update your social media channels regularly!
This is obviously one of the most important parts of this article. You need to make sure that people know you’re okay and you have a way for them to contact you.
Post regular updates on your social media channels about the storm, but make sure you don’t overwhelm people with requests for help or information. For example, “We are safe and sound here at [business]. If you need anything, please visit our website.”
Also, post regular updates on when your business will reopen.
For example, “We are currently closed due to Hurricane [name of the storm], but we’ll be back up and running tomorrow!”
Let people know what is going on with you, so they don’t fear the worst.
People might think that business owners are in hiding or that they were injured when they are actually busy with recovery efforts.
If there is a way for you to post your physical address or your email on social media, it would be wise to do this, so people know how to get in touch with you. This makes you more accessible and available for questions, concerns, etc.
Provide updated information about the disaster.
If there are any public announcements, you should be sharing them on your social media channels. For example, “The roads look clear enough for us to return home safely. Thank you for all of the support during this difficult time.” or “The levees have been breached in New Orleans, please seek high ground immediately!”
You could also use this as an opportunity to share emergency numbers and other important information with your followers and fans.
People always love a reason to interact on social media, so give them the opportunity! If people ask you if you’re okay or about when your business will reopen, respond promptly.
If they tell you that they’re worried about your business and asking about when you’ll reopen, let them know that production has already started and that you’ll be up and running soon!
If people ask for information or how they can help, provide links to support efforts in the area. For example, “For more information on relief efforts, please visit [insert link here].”
Keep customers informed.
Let them know how the hurricane is affecting your business. For example, if you’re still open but have limited hours, let them know so they can plan accordingly.
You can even share your address and set up a google doc or link that lists all of the hurricane shut-down businesses in an affected area so displaced people have a list of places they can go to during hurricane season.
Share information on the areas affected by the storm.
People are interested in seeing how places are coping with these disasters, so if you can share information on local initiatives or volunteer opportunities, people will appreciate it!
Remember, the whole world is watching your social media profiles. Using this channel will help you provide updates and look out for your customers, so they don’t have to worry about you!
As mentioned before, the most critical part of a business’s social media presence is making sure people know they’re okay after natural disasters. This is why updating your social media platforms with regular posts letting people know that you’re safe is crucial.
If your company’s location receives a lot of media attention, then it would be good to take advantage of this by using it as an opportunity to promote your business!
For example, if your local TV station says something like, “This restaurant was flooded, but they are back up and running today!” include the link of your business’s website and a picture of you and/or your employees hard at work.
People will be grateful that you’re okay and check out what your company is all about!
It would also be wise to post pictures on social media after natural disasters to see for themselves how things look in affected areas.
If you’re using social media to help promote your business’s efforts, then inform them about that too. For example, “We are doing our part to #rebuild. For every meal you buy at The Catfish House today, we’ll donate $1 to relief efforts. Spread the word!”
Don’t make this about yourself. People are concerned with their own safety and immediate needs, so keep posts altruistic by sharing information on how to help and providing helpful advice.
People want to know they’re safe and how they can help. Social media is a powerful communication tool right now, so make the best of it!
If you’re lucky enough to have power and Wi-Fi after a natural disaster, keep your phone charged up and use social media as much as you can. Letting people know that you’re okay in a post instead of in a text is more appreciated and much easier for them to see.
Remember, you can also use social media after natural disasters to promote your business’s efforts in the affected areas. If locals are still without power and need things like bottled water, diapers, etc., then share information on relief organizations you’re supporting in your area! If people are interested in helping out, they’ll be grateful that you’re leading the way.
Don’t forget to also inform people about how they can help you! If your business’s location wasn’t affected by the storm, but you still want to do your part, there are other ways to contribute. For example, post information on where donations can be sent and how people can help your business without traveling.
If you got any media attention for helping out after the storm, share your story on social media! Just like the last tip, this is a great way to inform people about what’s going on and let them see that you’re okay.
Above all, include as much information as possible and post regularly. Too many pictures and updates can be overwhelming so breaking them up into short, frequent posts is the best way to provide people with information on what’s going on and how they can help.
As always, remember that your customers come first! Preparing for natural disasters ahead of time will not only keep you safe from harm but will also help you continually support the people who have supported your business for so long.
Update social media sites with status updates.
- If you’re open, let customers know on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Let them know on Facebook and Twitter if you’re closed, so they don’t come by unannounced!
- Give updates on when power is expected to be restored in the area. This will help customers plan when to return to your business or how long it will take for them to get home.
- Post photos of how you’re helping hurricane victims.
- You can share how your business is collecting toiletries, canned foods, baby formula, or other hurricane relief items. You might even want to post photos of your customers shopping at your business so that they feel valued during this time.
Keep your posts short and brief.
People don’t want loads of information all at once; they need things broken down into smaller pieces.
If they’re on their phones and getting recovery updates, you want to make sure that your social media shares are shorter so they can get all of the info in a quick read.
Keep your social media posts positive.
If you’re like everyone else in Louisiana, you’re likely hot and aggravated. However, the focus is on the recovery process. Now is not the time to talk about how annoyed you are or complain about hurricane conditions on social media.
Be sure to let customers know that your business will be operating as usual once it’s safe to come back into the area.
This will let them know that hurricane season isn’t going to stop you from providing the service they need or simply stopping by to recharge their devices or suck up some cold air conditioning.
If you would like, hurricane season is also the perfect time to give back to your community.
Let customers know about hurricane relief efforts so that they can help out, too. You might even want to post photos of donation locations or volunteer spots in your area for people who cannot shop at your business but still want to help hurricane victims.
Also, use your social media channels as a place to let others know how you’re helping hurricane victims. Post photos of hurricane relief efforts or post a link to local nonprofits and other response organizations.
Don’t forget to add “Please share” to your hurricane relief posts.
This way, your other followers can spread the word, too.
Use hashtags when appropriate.
For example, #redcross or #hurricaneidahelp
Include your location.
When possible, try to include the city you’re posting from, as it will help people find your social media posts. For example, post a photo of how Hurricane Ida is affecting your business and use the hashtag #LivingstonParishStrong. This way, people can easily search for your posts on Twitter.
But never, ever, ever, use them deceptively. This practice is called hashtag hijacking and is insensitive to those affected by the disaster.
Support other small businesses.
Don’t be selfish with social media! It’s not about you! If you know of other companies in the area that are helping hurricane victims, let your followers know! Show your support and repost their updates.
Offer to help others with social media.
If you know of an organization that needs help monitoring its social media platforms, offer to lend a hand! You never know; their followers might come across your updates and decide to share them. This could mean new business for you!
Offer advice to people who are affected by the hurricane or who live in hurricane-prone areas.
Although this hurricane event is over, statistics show that there will be more. Use your expertise to help your community with emergency planning, mitigation of natural hazards, repairing property damage, or anything in your industry, vertical, or niche.
Your company excels at something, so share your knowledge!
This is an excellent opportunity to promote your work and create public goodwill with your followers. You might even be able to convert new customers or clients with this tactic! This is about sharing information, not just using social media as a place to post advertisements for your business.
For example, maybe you can provide information on creating an emergency preparedness kit or ways that your company can help with hurricane cleanup.
Be sure to keep social media content professional.
You want to present yourself as a business owner, not just another person who’s trying to sell their products online. Remember the tone of voice you use for your brand and stick with it.
For example, if you’re a humor-based company, use your comedic timing and wit to brighten up people’s day. If you sell products that are for children, keep some of those posts universal.
Keep your content positive.
People are coming to you for information, not to be sold to.
If there are updates about the status of the hurricane or plans for your business that are negative, share them in a positive way.
For example, “Unfortunately, due to Hurricane X, our store will be closed today, but we’ll be back up and running tomorrow!”
By keeping your content positive, you can maintain your followers’ trust and still provide the information they want.
When possible, re-share or RT original content from other organizations that you trust.
If you know that an organization is reputable and has excellent social media coverage, then go ahead and share it! This way, people who follow your page will also see the updates from that other company and will be able to check out what they’re saying on social media.
For example, retweet a post from the American Red Cross or your local news station. This way, you’ll still get your information, and so will everyone else who’s looking for ways to help hurricane victims!
Be sure to keep social media content interesting!
This is not the time to post about how much you hate President Biden or your favorite brand of coffee. Keep updates informative and helpful to everyone who’s looking for them.
For example, if your company came up with a new product that would be perfect for hurricane victims, be sure to share it! You can also post photos of the cleanup efforts in your area and make them easily accessible to everyone.
If you’re a nonprofit that solicits donations, show donors how they can donate and where their money goes.
Be informative – not salesy.
Now is not the time for sales pitches. Keep your posts short and sweet, perhaps including a link to more information on your company’s website if customers are interested in learning more about your brand.
Now is not the time to peddle your services. If you’re doing this, your followers will see right through it.
Make sure you’re connected with local organizations as well as national ones.
If your business is local, you might want to connect with people helping the relief efforts.
Maybe you can work with a nonprofit or an organization your business would sponsor for this period.
And if you’re in charge of social media for a national company, reach out to local organizations in different areas.
For example, maybe you can donate some supplies to a rebuilding effort or help construct new homes for victims of the hurricane.
By working with local organizations helping people after natural disasters, you’ll be able to directly show your support for them and their efforts.
It’s important to remember during emergencies such as this, people will need resources more than money.
Most ordinary people will not be able to give much if anything during these times, but they’ll still want to help in some way.
For example, local grocery stores might offer free or reduced-price food for families who have to evacuate their homes and can’t afford to feed themselves anymore. This is a better method than just donating cash.
Don’t forget to update your Google My Business (GMB) page.
This will let people know that you’re open for business and that it’s safe to come back into your area!
For example, “We are located at 345 Main St., this is an emergency shelter.”
If you don’t have a GMB page yet, go ahead and create one now! It’s free, and it’ll make it easier for people to find information on your business.
Learn more about the importance of your GMB profile in our recent blog post.
Keep an eye on your online reputation!
People are likely to research local businesses during these disasters, so keep an eye on what they’re writing about you.
For example, if someone posts something negative about your company, immediately delete it and apologize to that person in a private message.
What you want to avoid is a public argument that people will see!
This is not the time for arguing with your customers. If someone has a problem, they’ll complain on social media where all of their friends can see it.
If you’ve ever visited the Facebook Group “Livingston Parish Rants and Raves,” you’ll know exactly what we mean. IF you haven’t, here’s the link to help you lose all faith in humanity:
Remember to keep this page updated and build your reputation by posting valuable content whenever possible!
Keep an eye on it to make sure nothing harmful is being posted about you or your company.
Update your website if at all possible
We realize that this isn’t social media, but your website is one of your most critical online properties.
If you’re able to update it in the middle of all this chaos, let people know that they can visit your site for the latest updates on the storm.
The last thing you want is people searching Google for information about your business and finding an outdated page!
For example, “We are currently closed, but our website will be updated regularly with the latest information on when we’ll reopen.”
If you don’t have time to update it yourself, consider finding someone else.
Remember, this is a stressful time for everyone!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you need extra hands to take care of social media or other parts of your business that you can’t manage on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Your friends and family will always be there for you during these times.
In fact, if they’re smart, they’ll offer to help you out behind the scenes so that you can focus on taking care of your business!
Also, try working with other local businesses too.
Maybe they’re not directly affected by the storm, but their customers are. For example, perhaps a nearby cafe offers free coffee for people who need somewhere to go while they wait for their power to be restored.
This would be an excellent opportunity for you to help each other out!
Post photos and videos when you reopen!
Everyone loves to see happy customers return to their favorite places after disasters, so make sure you snap some awesome photos or videos of people in your business when it reopens!!
This is something everyone will enjoy seeing, and it’ll help build your online reputation.
For example, “We are so happy to have our customers back with us today! Come in and enjoy some iced coffee on us!”
Don’t forget that social media is one of the most important ways to keep in touch with your customers throughout this challenging time.
We’re here to help!
We’re part of the Denham Springs community first and marketers second.
Our team is ready and willing to help any businesses affected by this disaster, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need help with your social media, website, or other online properties.
If you need help, reach out to us.
It’s okay; we’ll get through this together.
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