Social Engagement while Social Distancing

We’re all living through unprecedented times.  COVID-19 has thrown the world a huge curveball.  We are working hard to socially distance ourselves, physically, from each other, in order to not continue the spread of this deadly virus, while at the same time, we are also craving social engagement from family, friends, and colleagues. 

Social engagement while social distancing may sound like an anomaly. Somehow, we’ve been making it work.  How can one engage while physically distancing themselves?

One way is through video conferencing, not only to replace in-person meetings but to engage socially as well.  Cisco Systems CEO stated during a recent interview that their Webex virtual conferencing software had 5.5 billion meeting minutes in the first 11 days of March 2020. That’s over 3.5 million days’ worth of minutes spent in virtual conferencing from only one software company. 

Companies are being creative during these times by hosting happy hours via video conferencing.  They’re also moving trade show events and summits to video as well.  Pinot’s Palette is offering virtual painting classes, and museums are offering virtual tours.

In our neighborhood, we’ve had virtual girls nights out, and I’ve heard friends having virtual birthday parties as well.  All of this is an attempt to remain socially engaged while adhering to social distancing.

Happy Hour While Social Distancing

Social engagement, while being physically socially distant, is really nothing new to the E-commerce world. E-commerce websites, by their very nature, are socially distant in the physical sense.  However, during these uncertain times, E-commerce sites need to work harder than ever to keep visitors engaged.

Social media engagement is up at a time when companies are spending less on marketing.  Twitter saw an increase of 12 million users in Q1 of 2020 and  Facebook has seen a 50% increase in messaging in many of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19.

How can E-commerce websites capture the attention of socially engaged visitors?  We’ll explore three ways to capture the attention of your visitors.


When your website is viewed as a trusted source of product or content, you become an authoritative source and a ‘go-to’ resource. Earning trust is not easy, and may take a long time to acquire.  Social proof is one way to earn trust.  Social Proof is the influence others have by their actions and words.  By exposing social proof on your website, you are showing your visitors that others have purchased from you, and others have found value in what you offer.  While trust may come slowly, exposing the actions and interactions of others on your website will help you build the credibility necessary to earn that trust.


“Our ability to create that one-on-one engagement with a customer is a point of differentiation and a strategic advantage for us”. Mindy Grossman American Businesswoman

Being different in E-commerce will give you a strategic advantage by keeping your visitors engaged and offer them something they’re not used to receiving.  Offering different products and content are obvious ways of differentiating yourself from your competitors.  But what about just doing something different, especially to help in this crisis?  Going above and beyond what is expected?  What if you heard of a supplier of firearms and accessories, offering their time and computing power to help scientists understand the molecular and protein structure of the coronavirus?  That’s exactly what Brownells is doing.  They are donating approximately 1,300 hours and 200 simulations on behalf of COVID-19 research.


Dwayne Johnson said “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come”.    Consistency in anything we do, generally makes us better.  Even in a crisis like we’re currently experiencing, by being consistent in social distancing, we will have a better chance of beating this virus.  The same concept can apply to your website.  By consistently offering quality products, by using consistent and reliable shipping methods, and by consistently standing behind your product and brand, you will differentiate yourself from your competitors and earn the trust of your customers and visitors.  This consistency results in more engagement on your website.

In conclusion, as we pray for an end to this crisis, we must continue to work hard to socially distance ourselves while maintaining some form of social engagement. As an E-commerce company, by earning your visitors’ trust, differentiating yourself from your competitors, and being consistent with shipping and products being offered, you can maintain and even increase the engagement on your website.

Debbie wears multiple hats at SiteVibes, including writing and researching awesome topics to share with customers, partners and just general site visitors. When she isn't doing day-to-day SiteVibes work, Debbie enjoys volunteering with nonprofit organizations, digging into a new book, and going for walks.