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The Good Neighbour In Times Of Social Distancing

As we all prepare to retreat from our normal social lives around work and play, it’s more important than ever to be a good neighbour to the communities we’ve built, whether they’re primarily online, or in the real world.

Proving your mettle

If you can do this on a platform you already own then you may find that what’s fraught with difficulty in the short term, will provide a longer term reward, in terms of loyalty, building a stronger following and having people recognise that you didn’t just fight your way onto the bandwagon of broadcasting your wares, doubling down on online selling.

Now is the time to adapt, up the ante in terms of communication and continue to serve your audience in the most appropriate way.

Here are some ideas around what you can do, so people know you’re there for them: 

Keep in touch.

With social distancing being increasingly adopted, it may be a good idea to start, if you’re not already doing it, something like an email newsletter that lets your audience know you are there for them.

Do it in a way that fits in with your underlying ethos, aligns with your business, provides something useful or entertaining, and encourages a back and forth. Doing this sort of thing with a podcast or video is trickier than email and getting heard on social media channels that are very noisy at the moment, is harder still.

Introduce moments when people can come together.

The events side of You Are The Media is now taking a break, this doesn’t mean however that moments spent as a community will be cast aside.

We’re going to be taking advantage of Zoom calls and finding how best we can help each other. I’ll probably make more use of being out in the open – inviting the YATM community to meet me virtually down at my beach hut. Get creative around how you can reach out to your audience and create those community moments.

N.B Come and join in with the You Are The Media Lunch Club on Thursday 26th March from 12.15pm GMT (join here and add the meeting ID 568 397 732)

Don’t chase vanity metrics such as likes and shares.

There’s been a tidal wave of posting – everyone’s seeing the same type of content. Carve out your own approach where you’re creating content that you know fits with what your audience needs, based around the value you provide. 

Take the conversation off-radar. 

The danger with relying on LinkedIn and Twitter is that organic reach is never under your control.

Are there ways to develop the conversation and communicate directly with others beyond email? I’ve started using Guild, which is a business messaging app (and not owned by Facebook) and am currently testing it out on a small YATM group. If it works, I’ll roll it out.  

Make new subscribers feel extra special. 

The people who are going to be coming to your side (new subscribers) should be made to feel extra welcome.

Many people are having a very tough time at the minute, give them moments to enjoy and feel appreciated. Bonjoro is a great tool to use where you record a short video message that’s proof of being there for someone. I’m finding that open rates for this sort of thing are encouraging, 80% of opens play the video.

Matt Barnett the founder of Bonjoro is one of our guests on the next YATM Podcast released at the end of March.

Show up, so when life is back to normal, you’ll have been around through the tough times.

Most of us are going to be working on the greatest case study of coming back from the brink.

Document and share your experiences, sensitively and as appropriate.

Whether you choose to keep on with your podcast or get into writing, being there for others in uncertain times demonstrates your commitment to a community, as well as speaking of your resilience. 

Find ways to check in with others. 

If you have subscribers and an audience who stand by you, there have to be ways to keep those fires burning.

This could be regular “how are you doing?” phone calls or introducing those who are part of your community to each other, eg connecting people to a job or project, or just establishing contact between two like-minded people. A true community is always about the deeper connections and the collaborations those bring.

Recognise ways to co-create.

If you can recognise a way to build something that brings people together, you can encourage longer-term thinking.

These people may not necessarily become your clients, but they may be able to add value to any future initiatives. For instance, one of my aspirations, when the world is back to normal, is to have a You Are The Media Day Club, similar to Lunch Club, but where, for the same price, people get to learn and meet people who are not a regular part of the meet-ups already taking place in the YATM community. Are there ways your audience can find to work together? 

This Is Not A Time To Stand Alone

There are many ways we can contribute to creating a sense of togetherness and communicating the value of community in tricky times. 

It’s everyone’s responsibility to be good neighbours. A good example of this is Morrison’s changing their payment terms to smaller suppliers – making payment immediately to help those businesses have some stability. They are the first UK supermarket to step forward in this way.

Lets Round-Up 

Social distancing should only be physical, following the guidelines that will keep us all safe.

There is no reason why isolation should be allowed to creep in and colour the technologically-enabled, online relationships that will become even more important now. 

And we should also remember to create, capture, share and treasure moments of light-heartedness, fun and connection in the difficult days ahead.

We may not all be virtuosos like the Italians singing and putting on impromptu concerts from their balconies and terraces, but we can all do our bit.  


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