Communicating Creatively During a Crisis with Social Media
March 30, 2020
So you’re hunkered down, working from home and adjusting to our new reality and new normal. Have you adjusted your social media plan as well?
Consumers are communicating that they’re open to receiving messages from brands addressing the coronavirus. Now is the time for brands to think creatively and to try out features. This is especially successful when content delivered helps to foster and uphold social distancing and community spirit. For example:
- Try live video on Instagram Live or Facebook Live. Host a demo, conduct a tour, or work with an internal stakeholder to host another kind of live experience that focuses on connecting with your audience on a personal level. If possible, use technology to transform an in-person live event to a virtual event.
- Give your followers a challenge to participate in. From an indoor scavenger hunt they can share on social or a call for UGC submissions, a challenge or similar call to action can give followers a welcome distraction to participate in.
- Connect in personal, candid ways. Behind every brand there are people. How are they coping and staying connected during this time of isolation? If staff are game and if there are uplifting messages to share, consider hosting day-long or week-long takeovers by staff to give followers a look at the people behind the brands they follow. Now is a better time than ever to develop personal connections with followers.
As you develop new content, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Be careful with selling. In some industries, like travel/tourism, hard sells don’t make sense right now. Instead, try using your social to drive to content rather than to sales-focused conversions.
- Don’t force your messaging. It will show if you try to force existing messaging to adapt to the current global climate. This may mean that some plans are suspended or scrapped altogether. Shift to crafting messaging that is created with or to reflect our new reality, that offers genuine connection to followers, and upholds brand values.
- Make good short-term decisions. Good decisions you make to adapt to current messaging needs will help develop a foundation for successful long-term communications and relationships with followers.
- Paid social media is still on the table. While campaigns will need updating, you can still deploy your paid social media budgets – just make sure you do so wisely! Use it to uphold and spread your new, key messaging developed for a COVID-19 world.
And finally, a few reminders:
- Pause or suspend brand social media messages that do not uphold social distancing practices or otherwise communicate tone-deaf or out-of-place content amid a crisis – this goes for pre-planned content and any content that’s newly developed in response to the coronavirus as the situation continues to unfold.
- Adhere to local/national social distancing or quarantine orders when producing content and in your content; don’t put people in danger in order to produce content.
- If referencing COVID-19, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NHS, and WHO for language guidelines and reference points.
- Only share links to articles from trusted sources that provide vetted medical information, such as the CDC or NHS, official government domains, or WebMD.
- Reference the AP’s stylebook for COVID-19 when style guidance is needed.