An effective social media strategy is about far more than driving business. As communities battle COVID-19 together, social media allows customers, employees and stakeholders to connect with your brand. As with all elements of your communications strategy, your social media strategy needs to pivot.
We’ve shared some tips on creating a community in a crisis, but how does this translate to social media? While every situation is different, when deciding what to share on your social channels, focus on these two main content types: essential communications and content meant to create connection.
Utilize your social media channels to share essential communications about your business.
Assess who your audience is and what they may need to know. How does the situation impact customers? What is changing with the business? Who can customers contact with questions?
When it comes to communicating about the crisis itself, direct your audiences to trusted sources. In the case of COVID-19, point back to the CDC or WHO. We have done the leg work for you and compiled trusted sources here. It is your job to cite the source, not be the source.
When posting, be sensitive to the emotions your audience may be feeling while still meeting their needs with pertinent information. And remember: the social media world moves fast. Timeliness is critical, as audiences expect real-time updates and responses online.
Crises can be isolating, especially in cases like COVID-19. As communities are directed to stay home and social distancing is mandated across the country, social media is a way for people to connect with one another. More than 300 local coronavirus support groups have formed, and WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger usage has more than doubled since the start of the crisis according to Mark Zuckerberg.
Businesses that use their channels as a beacon of hope are the ones that people will remember. If you can pivot your corporate social responsibility efforts to assist in the crisis, share that on social media and urge your audiences to get involved. If you have feel-good stories of employees or stakeholders being leaders or public servants, showcase their contributions.
It’s important, however, to ensure content is not strictly self-serving. Achieve this delicate balance through true authenticity. Position your content in a way that provides value to your audience – not in a way that feels promotional.
Finally, remember that the content you produce is just the start. Social media is designed to be social. Respond to comments and messages in a timely manner to build trust with your audiences and use comments and questions to inform what content you should share next.
While none of us knows for sure how this situation will evolve, try to plan the content you want to share as the landscape changes. But remember – brands that plan, schedule and post content without reevaluating content daily through the lens of the latest news and updates will appear tone-deaf. What may have made sense to post last week could very well be irrelevant or even insensitive just days later, and knowing when to stay quiet is just as important as knowing when to speak up.
Has your business identified ways to do this well? We’d love to compare notes and talk with you about creating engaging, authentic social media content as we all navigate COVID-19 together.