Using Social Media During a Crisis

How should brands adjust their social media content in the time of coronavirus? That’s a very important question to consider at this time, and the lessons that are learned answering it, can offer wisdom even on the other side of the pandemic.

Something to consider, and it applies to anything a PR pro or a brand representative might want to post on social media, is that people are learning about COVID-19 all the time. They are worried, stressed, and many people are frustrated and bored. So, how can the content a brand shares address some or all of these issues?

Consider this as a basic filter: is the information about to be shared educational, interesting, or reassuring? In what way is the content being shared helpful and connective? These are the attributes people want to see. Now is not the time to try a direct sales approach.

Everything that’s posted should come from a client-first perspective. How are the people encountering the content going to respond? What’s their state of mind, and how will that influence how they interpret what they encounter on social media? Having good answers to these questions will help brands avoid making a social media mistake during this crisis.

Begin back-and-forth interactions with the client base on social media. Find out what they are looking for and what they’re thinking about. Analyze those interactions and find the gaps in what they want and what is being offered. Then step up and fill those gaps in a way that is relational and helpful, rather than salesy. Looking back on this time of crisis, people will remember how brands made them feel.

Practice active listening. Don’t just be a content machine, be a relationship magnet. Engage in a way that draws people in to encourage them to share, and then make it a point to interact with what they share. Let people know they are noticed and appreciated.

Be real and be human. A lot of them are working from home so casual and comfortable is becoming more acceptable as an approach. A “we’re all in this together” kind of message that humanizes the brand in an authentic way could build solid connections.

Now is also the time for free incentives to help build lists and strengthen customer loyalty. Money is tight for a lot of people, so, if the resources are there, give them something, no strings attached. The gifts don’t even need to be directly connected to the brand. The incentives could be valuable information, helpful tips, or interesting content to take their minds off life as we know it.

Be professional, but also empathetic and insightful. Meet people where they are and give them something inspirational, comforting, and valuable. Keep the focus on communicating how much they are valued, rather than what the brand hopes to get from them.