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Gavin Hammar, Founder/CEO Sendible

Social Media Best Practices During Covid-19

Today's Guest Gavin Hammar

In today's special Life in the Day of COVID-19, I’m talking with Gavin Hammar, who is the founder and CEO of Sendible, the online social media automation platform that we use here at Gowercrowd for all our posting.

Now of all people active on social media, Gavin is probably one of the most tuned in to exactly what's happening online during the Coronavirus crisis. His platform, Sendible has gazillions of subscribers, so he has a particularly deep insight into how social media activity and practices have changed since COVID-19 hit the airwaves.

That is exactly what you're going to be hearing about today, as well as best practices for how to adjust your own social media activities during this crisis.

What You're Going to Learn


  • A Helpful Approach to Social Media Use During COVID-19
  • Embracing the Context of a Crisis to Modify Social Media Messaging
  • Creative Social Media Tactics for Building Your Business During COVID-19
  • Measuring Social Media Engagement from Your Customers During COVID-19
  • Be a Social Media Pioneer During the Coronavirus Crisis
  • Suggested Practices for Different Social Media Channels During COVID-19
  • How Social Media Might Be Different Post-Pandemic
  • And much more!

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Show Highlights

A Helpful Approach to Social Media Use During COVID-19

Adam Gower: How have social media habits changed since this whole crisis began?

Gavin Hammar: Firstly, thanks for having me back again, Adam. Great to be here again. So, yeah, I guess what we've seen at Sendible is that people started by freezing. You know, they started just by freezing, not knowing what to do and almost panicking. They weren't sure what to say. Can they still sell their products? Can I still be out there on social media? So they just stopped doing social media altogether. You know, it just froze, did nothing because they weren't sure what to do. What we discovered, what we've been trying to educate our customers is about kind of trying to take advantage of everyone being on social media right now. Just about everyone is on social now. They're all locked in their houses. There's a lockdown going on. And they really have an opportunity here to be present, to build their brands during a time of need and just being there to answer people's problems and to help provide support on social media.

So I think in terms of the social media habits, how they've changed from a business perspective, I think people have started to cut their time, their budgets on social media. But the ones that are really benefiting now are the ones that are actually staying on social media. So what I read is consuming COVID-19 related content because they're in fear. They need help. The brands that are present right now, are the ones that are actually benefiting. So I think that the biggest opportunity here is about being able to rewrite the book because there is no book. No one knows how to deal with this thing.

If you can be the one that can be there to share your learnings, document what you're going through as a company, you can help others and help to pioneer the way forward through this pandemic. So I think that's where we're trying to help educate people really take advantage of the needs that they have to help them and be present by sharing your own perspective because there is no book about this.

Embracing the Context of a Crisis to Modify Social Media Messaging

Adam Gower: Some of your clients on Sendible or subscribers on Sendible are creating content and they're being successful with their content development. Tell me, what are the best of class people doing? How have they adapted their messaging and their communications to these circumstances?

Gavin Hammar: So, yeah, I think the first thing is that "context is king" when it comes to marketing and social media, whatever it is. I think that the biggest lesson here is, you have to always embrace context. So whatever your customers or your audience are currently going through, what they're thinking about, you should be relevant to those thoughts. So now, more than ever, you need to be, kind of, sharing what's relevant to them. So no one cares about your product, your service, as I said before. I care about how you can help them, what you can do for them to make them better. So I think the ones that are doing really well are the ones that are, kind of, using messaging to help in the relevant context of the current situation. And as I said, because it's so new, they're kind of documenting their learnings. So, they aren't trying to take a book and show you what you could do. They're saying, here's what I've done. Here's what's working for me right now. Try this, try this out, see if it works for you. So it's more about documenting your journey, going through this pandemic, this crisis, and sharing your wins as you go along with it, and sharing someone else's wins. And I think that the key to remember here is that we're all living this hero's journey, right?

We're all going through a crisis. Obstacles on the way. And it's a great opportunity to build a following of people that are rooting for you. So, if you can show that you're vulnerable, you know, whatever it is you've had to go through, maybe laying off staff, whatever it is, how you dealt with that. If you can be open and honest and transparent, you can build an audience when this thing is all over, to then sell to. So what our top set of customers are doing is, they're kind of giving away things for free. Giving away learnings, running workshops and courses, you know, for the audience, it's all free. They're just trying to give away as much value as they can, in the hopes that later on, those, that audience can convert to customers. So let's say in three months time, you've got their trust, you have their attention. So whatever you can do right now to build the audience, by being honest and open and sharing your learnings, will set you ahead of the rest when this is all over.

Creative Social Media Tactics for Building Your Business During COVID-19

Adam Gower: So what are you seeing in terms of tactics that people are employing to engage their customers even when their customers are not standing on their doorstep with their wallets open? That's an important time, isn't it? Probably the most important time.

Gavin Hammar: I think, yeah, I think the key is to build an audience, as I said. So whatever you can do that's related to what you're doing as a business, but do it more as a service or as a way to help people deal with the current situation. So what example? Let me just think of something. So, yes, I think one example is a friend of mine. He is a father at my daughter's school who basically frames, kind of, portraits, photos for a living as in like, photo framing in a market. And obviously, that market's been shut down and he has no way to earn a living right now. So what I suggested is that he, kind of, find a way to help children create artwork that could then be framed later on or teach photography classes or do something that's remote, something on Zoom or whatever it is, or Facebook Live, to build the audience now to keep something that's related to what he does as a business that could eventually then become something he can use to frame his photos, whatever it is. So, teaching art classes, teaching photography, to tap into what the world needs right now, in the hope that when this is over, you can then have that audience ready to buy from you. That's not related to his business. Kind of like what you're saying about your sister, but it's something that can, kind of, complement it afterwards, if you know what I mean.

Adam Gower: Yeah. You know, it's fascinating you say that. So, I had a couple of ideas as well. Let's throw these around because I think it's actually brilliant to do that, to suggest that to him. For example, what I suggested to Lucy was she could go into her bathroom, grab a product, right, and show, just create a video. How can you use products that you've got in your thing to keep your hands moist? Best practices because you're washing your hands, 25 times a day. Do a little video.

Gavin Hammar: Exactly. Yeah.

Adam Gower: What else can you do? Think about it. Look, if you change the dynamic of how you relate to your customers. Your customers come to you. You think of them as giving you money. But actually, what you're doing is you are giving them when they pay you to do something, you aren't giving them something that they need. They're coming to you at a time of need. They need a frame, they need some facial. They need food because they want to eat in a restaurant. Right? So you are serving them at a time of need. Now is even more of a time of need. And when I say they're not showing up with their wallets, don't just be there for them when they have money. Be there for them now, when they most need you. So I said to Lucy, I told her to do this for the hands. What I was thinking about restaurants. Show somebody how to cook your favorite dish.

Adam Gower: Right? Who wants the most favorite dish in the restaurant? Here, let me show you how you cook it. We'll put a video together. That's how you create a relationship.

Gavin Hammar: Exactly. Totally. Totally agree with that. Yeah, I think that that's critical. So not expecting anything in return, really is the key. Just giving value. Helping others in need. Helping your customers in need but don't expect to make a return on this, you know. That's what it is but that's a longer-term play right? In the short term, you won't profit from this, but in a few month's time when it's over, you will.

Measuring Social Media Engagement from Your Customers During COVID-19

Adam Gower: How are you actually measuring? At one point you said, let's see, you talked about doing well. Those subscribers who are doing well. How are you measuring that? Let's get into, kind of, DNA there.

Gavin Hammar: I could tell you what I'm doing first of all because I don't know, I don't have insight into what everyone else is doing. But what we're doing at Sendible, that we're doing, that we're measuring. So for me, it's kind of like what you were saying about, with the podcast and sharing, teaching. What I'm doing is, I'm documenting every week, what I've done, as a result of COVID-19 as a business owner to help other business owners, kind of, maybe approach things the same way as me or adopt some of those tactics. So the way I measure that is, kind of, how engaged are they in their contents? You know, if we're doing video, which we do in Sendible now, I mean, how many subscribers are we getting, you know, are they sticking around to the end of the podcast, the video, whatever it is. And just really seeing how engaged they are. And the second thing we're doing is we're building our own community. Not around Sendible, but around our customers which I was going to share about as a tactic, right? So every company's building communities right now. We're doing it very differently and our measure of success is how engaged the community is.

So always fueling conversations in that community. Are we helping other customers engage with each other? Are we providing value in a way that gets people to come back and engage and actually enjoy our content? So that it's more around like, not even audience size or really engagements, sort of, metrics. So, view times, that kind of thing. Did I watch more than one video or did I listen to more than one podcast, that kind of thing? Do they come back and get more value from it? So I think that's what it really is. It's more about, less about driving direct sales by direct sign-ups. More about the brand awareness metrics that you'd normally be measuring.



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Be a Social Media Pioneer During the Coronavirus Crisis

Adam Gower: To me, this is an extraordinary opportunity to, kind of, unwrap who you are and who you are as a business and to expose it. I think this is what you're doing is to expose that kind of inner workings and to share that in a way that is, that provides value to others that they can learn from it.

Gavin Hammar: Yeah, I think I think that's it. I think because everyone's panicking, as I said like everyone's doing the same thing, right?

So the key here is to be different. Like not to do whatever else is doing right now. Try to pioneer something new. So what I'll say about the community. We knew we were going to build a community. We'd already planned that in Q1. But our community wasn't going to be like everyone else's. So every other company, as I said, is building this community around their brand. To join the Salesforce community, join the HubSpot community. Ours is really, our community is run by our customers. So, yes, respond to the community but it's run by our actual customers who are facing the problems that other customers have. So we have, sort of, we have leads in our community that actually lead conversations. And we're just there to support them, provide any sponsorships that they need to help drive those conversations. But it's a way of thinking differently. Like everyone's panicking, starting communities. Ours is run by our customers. It's very different. So I would say, just because everyone's doing it one way, try to think of a different way of doing it.

You know, everyone's on Facebook Live now, and Zoom. Everyone's doing the exact same thing. Can you be a bit different? You know, can you personalize your approach more? Can you do one-on-one Zoom sessions, you know. I think you need to try to think outside the box. Now's your chance to really differentiate from the rest of the world. So, that's what I would suggest is really just try to be different. Even as everyone's trying to fit into the same new way of living and working, try to find ways to differentiate your brand so you can stand out when everyone's doing the same thing

Suggested Practices for Different Social Media Channels During COVID-19

Adam Gower: So let me ask you about different channels and how the different social channels are, I don't know, react, not reacting different but what are the characteristics of how people interact with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and YouTube, which are the ones I use specifically that you've seen patterns different, or the different characteristics and the way people react to those channels.

Gavin Hammar: So I think, first of all, like what you were saying about video, I think video is key right now. So you have to show your face on social media, is really crucial. Even internally, I'm sending videos for internal communication. Our sales team are sending videos to customers, you know, and the leads. So using video wherever we can. I think YouTube has been doing really well right now. I've heard that, from content creators, I don't know if this is relevant to you, but you seeing any increase in traffic, in views?

Adam Gower: Oh yeah, Gavin. Since I switched up, just as a case study, since I switched up my communications, stopped everything and replaced it with an entire library of new relevant content, Gavin, my inbox, the traffic to my website has exploded. Exploded. I've never been busier in my life.

Gavin Hammar: That's amazing.

Adam Gower: Yeah. Out of control, really.

Gavin Hammar: So, yes, I think video is key. YouTube is exploding right now. People are pushing out more video content. Facebook Live. It exploded in the first few weeks of this pandemic. I don't know if it's like this in the USA, but everyone's on Facebook Live. We have our kids at home. Like every hour, there's something going on for the kids on Facebook Live. That's exploded. But I think it's getting quite saturated. So, we've seen an increase, obviously customers on Sendible, as a result of this. People trying to promote their Facebook Live events and that kind of thing. But it's just being overdone right now. So you have to try to differentiate from Facebook Live, which is why I think YouTube is a good place to be right now, to create higher quality content. People can learn from and come back to. Obviously, Zoom has exploded. That's more one-on-one or personalized, sort of, content experience. Facebook Groups is massive right now. So everyone's trying to join communities. They're looking for a place to belong where they can get advice and feedback and kind of, just vent, and share their ups and downs. So Facebook Groups, again, it's the closest to personalization where it's a more personal experience. That's become a big, big deal right now. So get into Facebook Groups if you can. There's always questions like, how can I do this? How can I do that? You can be there to help them. So Facebook Groups, I'd say, is your number one priority right now. Try to join as many as you can. And then the interesting thing is Instagram isn't being used as much right now. There's been, kind of a slight reduction in usage on Instagram. People, not looking for entertainment as much as they used to.

Adam Gower: Well probably because they're not...

Gavin Hammar: Instagram is collecting official....Sorry, go ahead.

Adam Gower: They're also probably not out and about taking pictures. There's only as many pictures of the house cat that you can put up on it, kind of, right?

Gavin Hammar: And let's take food porn. Hang on, you know, 'cause people aren't going out to restaurants.

Adam Gower: Right.

Gavin Hammar: I think Instagram is kind of just, yeah, kind of slowed down a little bit in its growth. It doesn't mean you shouldn't still be there, but you can still use video content to direct them to other channels, you know, to share your podcasts and video content, that kind of thing. That people are looking for answers to problems more than just entertainment and, kind of, passing the time, I think. I mean, me personally, I'm using, I'm watching less Netflix than I did before because, I say I'm more inspired to create, as you said, about creating and helping others. I want to be out there creating content and providing value rather than just consuming all this stuff. So I think that there's opportunity there to create content. Yeah, go ahead.

Adam Gower: What about LinkedIn and Twitter?

Gavin Hammar: LinkedIn has been pretty good for me personally because I'm sharing my journey as a CEO. So again, I've always used LinkedIn as a way to share my mistakes and how I've overcome them. So that kind of content has always worked well on LinkedIn. So, you know, you might want to say I was down and out last week, I was depressed, but I came out this week because of these things. So people are always looking for lessons on LinkedIn. So LinkedIn is good. Obviously, video content is, kind of, used quite heavily on Linkedin these days. Still performs well. But, yeah, LinkedIn has been a good place. Twitter. I've never really mastered Twitter myself. I think there's opportunities to, kind of, come in there and give value in various conversations. What's your thoughts on Twitter at the moment?

Adam Gower: Yes, so the two channels that I notice. Well, in order of results, looking at Google Analytics and seeing where we're getting traffic from. LinkedIn is a very powerful driver for my industry, which is real estate, capital formation, raising money for real estate projects, even today. So a lot of the traffic is coming from LinkedIn, followed by Facebook. And Twitter is, kind of, a distant third, But, I think it's important because the people that are on Twitter, who are active on Twitter, generally are quite serious. They're busy, right? With LinkedIn. Yes, with LinkedIn, there's much more to consume, right? The content is, there's more content per post. With Twitter, you can fly through it very quickly. And because of that, what I like actually, is the lists. So I have various lists. And that gives me a hyper filtered view of specific areas of the world and activities in the world that I like. And so, I actually think it's, my guess is that the people who come through to us on Twitter are high-value connections, even though they represent a smaller, substantially smaller percentage of the traffic.

How Social Media Might Be Different Post-Pandemic

Adam Gower: You know, let's look at the bright horizon and what are the opportunities? It seems to me that, although this may have driven a lot of people off-line, erroneously, right? Just out of sheer panic. Right? The best thing to do, as we've been discussing, is actually up your game. Tailor your communications, but double down on content. Right? Get more out. Make sure it's relevant. Where do you think your business, the business of social media is? Or, how do you think it's going to emerge after people have been hibernating for a few weeks, possibly months, and eventually come out of hibernation? Do you think the world's going to look different on social media?

Gavin Hammar: That's a good question. It's a tough one. I think that social media is being used today more than it ever was before. I think this pandemic has used social media to its strength. It's kind of highlighted the strength of social media in a way that has pulled people together and people are sharing their stories on social media. I mean, a lot of people are sharing the ups and downs, being transparent, being human again, which is where social media has the kind of roots came from. So I think that people will realize that that's where social media is most valuable in bringing communities together. Bring an audience together around a common goal or common trend or thread. So, in my mind, I think social media will be bigger for this, come out of this stronger. And as you said, more companies are having to go online now. So will we ever be able to go back to how life was before? Probably not. I think people will embrace remote working more than ever. People are going to work from home more, after this. We might see fewer restaurants on the high streets, more takeaways. People are having to drive traffic to the websites to get the attention and build the awareness. And I think social media is the best distribution channel for that. So I think, the value of social media will really be realized as part of this pandemic. But I think, as I said before, you need to be different. And that's where the key really is. Is, don't just push people to your website, as I said to you now. You have to try to build an audience to trust you.

And then when you throw one out there that has a link, they'll go visit it because they do trust you already. So storytelling is a voice that is still super key. Sharing your learnings right now is the best thing you can do. So whatever you're going through right now, whatever you're struggling with. As I said, the hero's journey is the key right now. So, look, try to find challenges in everyday life because everything is new for everyone and try to share how you've overcome those challenges and then build the audience that way. So I think storytelling, as I've always said, will always push you above the rest. And the more authentic you can be, the better. Using video, just like you said, on YouTube is key and teaching and sharing. So yeah, just try not to be perfect. Be human. But I've said actually, I've said to the team that say if your kids are in the room running around and you're writing an email, just write. P.S., I've got the kids running around wild behind me while I write this e-mail to you and just try to build that trust and be authentic because now is the best time that you can do that. You aren't in an office, you're at home, you know, just share that you are at home and just be real, be yourself. Don't try to hide behind what's really going on here. So I'd say that that's probably my few tips on social media and where it's going and how you can really leverage this opportunity.



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