Tips for Navigating Social & Digital during COVID-19
March 17, 2020
Developments in the COVID-19 outbreak are happening fast, and that can make communicating about it effectively on social media and digital channels challenging.
We’re here to offer our best guidance to approach the situation at hand on these channels. When paired with industry-specific knowledge, the following guidelines can be used across a number of different sectors to steer your social and digital communications around the coronavirus.
Above all else, your goal should be to use your social media and digital channels responsibly, aiding in efforts to limit the spread of misinformation in the coming weeks and months. Industries less directly impacted by the coronavirus should also strive to be thoughtful and respectful in any communications they elect to share.
If messaging is necessary for your client or company, remember to:
- Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NHS, and WHO for guidelines and reference points for language.
- Link to or share articles only 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.
On Social Media
Social media is a fast-moving medium, and your plans and responses should bear that in mind. Your social media team should be empowered to make big decisions – if they are not so empowered already – so that they are able to act nimbly in response to the coronavirus.
Additionally, we recommend that organizations:
- Identify and put in place a social media “go team” to monitor inbound mentions and comments for questions, concerns, or commentary on COVID-19 on your social media platforms. This may call for additional staff outside of your core social media team, who may otherwise be spread thin developing messaging or managing other needs for social media.
- Be prepared to suspend all scheduled social media posts – it’s better to pause posts out of an abundance of caution than to publish tone-deaf information.
- Empower your “go team” to pause messaging if they feel it becomes necessary. Evergreen content can be re-used at a later date.
- Scale back on the total number of social media posts that do go live, if you have not yet reached a point where all posts need to be paused. Focus on priority messaging and save evergreen content for a later date.
- Do not use brand or campaign hashtags in social media messages on COVID-19 – if needed, use the hashtags #COVID19 and #coronavirus.
- Use approved messaging on social media, including in response to any inbound comments.
- Develop a basic, broad response that links to a central resource webpage to use when responding to inbound comments.
- Avoid using specifics or other information that is subject to change in your social messaging so that your response language can be relevant as long as possible. Update your central resource webpage with the most up-to-date information.
- Adopt a “don’t feed the trolls” mentality: do not engage with users seeking to provoke, divide, spread misinformation, or otherwise stir the pot.
Web & Digital Recommendations
Digital mediums will carry the brunt of the messaging and updates on the coronavirus.
FINN strongly recommends that all information on COVID-19 that is intended to be shared with audiences through a website is published on HTML web pages and not as online PDF documents.
HTML pages are more widely compatible on a variety of devices than PDFs, will load faster (especially on mobile, where a PDF must be downloaded to the device), and will help facilitate easy sharing of timely and urgent messaging.
It should always be easy for audiences to access your information – if more than one click is needed, reconsider your landing page design and setup.
On the web, also remember to:
- Give a short URL to the central resource page on the coronavirus on your website that is easy to remember and type (ex: www.yourdomain.com/covid19).
- Ensure that COVID-19 updates provided on existing webpages are easy to find by placing them at the top of the webpage with a dedicated banner to draw the audience’s attention.
- Use attention-grabbing colors like red to underscore the location of vital COVID-19 information.
- Perform an optics double-check on any existing pages you intend to update with COVID-19 message before sharing with public audiences to make sure other messaging or photos do not detract from the timely and urgent COVID-19 messages (ex: a carousel of top headlines featuring photos of happy people).