3 things that kept (keep) me and my business sane during lockdown.
I started writing this article right after the lockdown began, in mid-March. I intended it to include a marketing guide on how to stay relevant on social media during the lockdown. But, for many reasons, I couldn't' bring myself to finish and deliver it. The inability to control the uncontrollable spread of the virus and the collapse of the economy brought so much fear and despair. I was in the pool of those who lost so much business. It has been an agonizing period personally and professionally.
From a personal perspective, I wish this quarantine had happened in an internet-free world. The internet-free quarantine would have spared my mental wellbeing from all the media and news bombardment. And would have spared my not so motivated self from all the how-to stay healthy/active/busy/creative/in shape during the quarantine.
From a business perspective, I am happy this quarantine caught us amid fast internet access. The process of reinventing business operations is very difficult. And transferring from in-person to online was unimaginable for some of them. But, as it turned out, it wasn't impossible. This all thanks to the internet and the versatility of so many online platforms. The pandemic experience showed us that It takes a systematic set of actions to prevent the worst. Here are three actions I took to help myself and my business stay as sane as possible during the quarantine.
I have been working from home since I started my online business four years ago. Despite that, the quarantine drill is very different from the normal work from home. My morning habits include turning on the TV on the news channel. Two weeks into lockdown I realized that the news was a great source of anxiety and distress. So I decided to limit the time and the exposure to it. The results were astonishing. I was more relaxed and was able to focus more on my work. I was also able to take advantage of the perks that come with the time at home. That being cooking and playing virtual Catan.
I applied the same approach to the management of my Instagram accounts. First, I filtered the amount of content I was getting from news outlets and magazines. As an avid Instagram user I follow with enthusiasm many accounts that interest me. I also get the vast majority of my news from Instagram. Once the pandemic outburst, my feed was full of COVID-19 related posts. I muted the accounts that were more prone to post Covid-19 related content, and I went back to check on them once a day.
This method helped me shift my focus onto other things. The myriad of content creators on social media platforms made my efforts easier. They came up with beautiful ideas and challenges to keep people entertained. That kind of content addressed the daily issues without adding to the stress. So instead of becoming the next coronavirus news bearer, I decided to share the content that helped keep the spirits up. The response has been very positive increasing the metrics of the accounts. To keep track of the progress I use PeopleMap, a great tool that delivers real-time Instagram metrics.
Besides shielding myself and my business from the constant negativity of the news, I offered my online space to those in need. I figured since I am not a frontline or essential worker, I needed to find something to put my skills into use. The vast majority of my clients acting out of panic and fear suspended their marketing plans, for the time being.
So I decided to brush off the feeling of powerlessness and come up with a plan to help others. I created a campaign called "Save a Job" where I offered free advertisement on my +500K follower network. I invited all businesses hit by the merciless wave of this pandemic to submit a request for free ads on theca.co. The response was not as quick as I had expected. But after a while, subscriptions came pouring into my inbox. I had now created a new daily task, which I enjoyed so much and was serving a great cause. As the saying goes - there's no selfless good deed - mine was not exempt from the rule. This initiative kept my spirits up and gave me the motive to keep moving forward.
A pivot, which I've been so reluctant to take before this pandemic, was doing a live on IG. I had been strategizing my way to come public on my social media platforms for a long while, but never managed to do so. When, Juliet Olanipekun, a real-life princess and designer, extended the invitation to join her live on Instagram, I took it as a sign and agreed to do it. I spent an hour talking to this brilliant and stunning young woman and I enjoyed every second of it. Her eloquence, vibe, and positivity made a great ice breaker for my first live. Satisfying was also the response I got from the audience, which from a poll later that week showed great interest in more lives.
Another effective pivot was to include a personal touch to the daily content I share on Instagram. I created mood boards based on a theme. I asked my audience through story questionnaires about their favorite binge on Netflix. About their favorite activity around the house, or their favorite color. All things that bring us together in a time when social distancing is the norm.
In conclusion, I'd like to say that for me the hardest thing during this pandemic was to find the strength to keep on moving without falling into the trap of the whys and hows and when. While everything sucks, it is important to share the feelings, emotions, and thoughts with others. The last couple of months emphasized once more the importance of over-communicating with the audience in times of crisis. A personal touch to the business approach is more effective. Social media is, after all, a medium of sharing.