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April 8, 2020

As people across the globe are forced into self-isolation in a bid to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, a new virtual world is evolving and people’s attitudes are switching to a new focus at home.

Screen time has increased by +76% week on week since the outbreak first began as we adapt to balancing our personal and professional life online. Families, friends and colleagues are joining together to build new and existing online communities.

Consumers are reinventing their lifestyle, adapting behaviour, learning new skills and finding their true passions online and through social media in a bid for escapism and inspiration during this global health crisis.  Engagement for live video content has increased by more than +50% during the pandemic as people find ways to exercise in their front room, explore a wonder of the world from their desks or experience a virtual cooking class from their kitchen.

Of course, it comes as no surprise that social networking platforms have reported an all-time high in usage, some features such as the live video options are the closest thing we have to face to face conversations right now.

Brands need to maintain consistent with digital communication to reinforce consumer confidence during this difficult time, have an ‘always on’ approach that is informative, inspirational, engaging and transparent. Now is the time more than ever before to use digital platforms and drive awareness.

At all times, we must remember are dealing with a global health pandemic, every decision should be led with compassion and empathy. When content is created and shared it MUST be handled with ultimate sensitivity and must not at any point be opportunistic. There is a balance and we hope these tips will help brands get this line right.

It’s all about the tone, relevancy and timing

Keeping messaging clear and concise, ensuring communications are relevant to the reader, will ensure they resonate.

If you need to provide specific information or guidance about the pandemic, we’d always recommend referencing the official and trusted sources for your country.

Don’t be afraid to stop all campaign ideas pre-Covid-19 as many of them will no longer make sense. Pause and regroup on what is important in the here and now.

Quality Over Quantity

Be helpful. You will need to constantly adapt your messaging and revaluate every post in your monthly content calendars.

Using social media management systems Hootsuite, Buffer, Tweetdeck, Later and Social Omph etc., could cause an issue if a scheduled post gets automatically distributed at a sensitive time. Turn off the automation facility.

Steps to take to ensure online audiences are still engaging with you in a positive way include

  1. Put in place a social media ‘go to team’ to monitor mentions, comments and questions.
  2. Work with the wider PR team to create a ‘briefing bible’ preempting questions and negative queries.
  3. Conduct daily social media listening to understand more about sentiment, conversation topics and trends to inform your content calendar.
  4. Scale back on the total number of posts and focus on the quality of messaging rather than quantity or frequency.
  5. Think through the timing of your messaging in relation to the current stage of the crisis.
  6. Create a bank of content that addresses and answers queries in a simplistic way.

Engaging with the Community

Be inclusive, where possible, include assets, such as links that go to a back to a central resource webpage or infographics. No one has ever experienced what we are going through right now, there is no science or right answer about how to handle a global pandemic but as a brand be compassionate, be honest and you will create advocates for life.

Finally, a few key points to remember

  • Pause all sales or booking-related messaging & consider halting paid activity
  • Shift messaging from `go now’ and `book now’ to `dream about a future trip’ and/or `Don’t cancel, postpone.’
  • Incorporate responsible and supportive community messages not opportunistic, based on the current conversations such as #StayAtHome
  • Don’t just jump on a hashtag, given the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis. Before aligning yourself to a #hashtag or trend consider how quickly the tide is turning and if this could be viewed differently in a few days. Also consider if it’s appropriate for your brand to use it. Some hashtags may only work for people/individuals and not brands
  • Focus on bringing the destination, product or experience into the home through interactive content which will help connect on a personal level. Such as a demo, live experience, virtual events or a challenge that the community can participate in and provide UGC to further amplify the campaign.
  • Respond to social media users where you can offer informative, valuable and positive answers, and steer clear of becoming embroiled in a comment war where you battle with disgruntled people.
  • If the crisis directly affects your customers in a negative way, consider creating a bank of content that helps to clearly explain each query with how you’re rectifying the issue to keep them happy.
 

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