Social media is a powerful tool to reach the masses with your company’s messaging. But in times of crisis, poor social media management can lead to serious public relations mishaps and gaffes.
The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented, meaning no social media manager or small business owner has been through such an experience. But using what we’ve learned from marketing during other crises, we can apply some best practices and tips to make social media an effective communication tool.
Review Your Social Media Management Guides
You should have a guide that outlines your voice and tone on social media and your policies for responding to individuals. As part of your guide, you should also outline the types of content you post, how often and policies for sharing content from other pages.
Take a moment and review your social media strategy to make sure it fits with today’s marketplace. Consumer buying habits are changing as they’re encouraged to spend more time at home and avoid gatherings. Does your social media tone match with this messaging?
While you and your team of social media managers might feel untouched by the crisis, remember that many of your followers probably are. They could be essential workers, part of the vulnerable population, unemployed due to office closures, etc.
Take your time to craft thoughtful and sympathetic messages. Be very careful that you don’t come off as insensitive or cruel. And above all else, don’t spread misinformation about the pandemic. Use only trusted sources when sharing information and share links from websites who are respected health professionals.
Research Users and Pages Before Sharing Their Content
Misinformation is spreading rapidly during this crisis. Verify information and sources before sharing anything from those users or pages on social media.
Being first to release news related to crises might not always be a good thing. Some news sources are interpreting complicated health data and spinning it their own way.
While many news sources likely don’t mean to be the source of misinformation, social media helps these reports and articles get distributed at a rapid rate. Re-educating the public after such misinformation can be hard, so be careful what you share.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Certain terms and phrases have become associated with the coronavirus pandemic. We can’t throw around the words virus, pandemic, spread, germs, etc. the same way we used to. Use these words with intention and realize that if you just say “virus” people will likely assume that you’re referring to the coronavirus.
Remain Neutral When You can
The coronavirus pandemic has those who favor the measures their local government is taking to prevent the spread of the virus and those who are pretty certain it’s all a hoax. No matter where people stand on the issue, they’re likely rather passionate.
There’s no winning on entering debates about lockdowns, reopening plans, mask requirements or school closures. It’s best to not enter these conversations unless they have a direct bearing on your industry or company.
Stay neutral and work to instead inform and educate your social media followers where it makes sense related to your products and services. Try to take conversations about such topics offline to private chat when they arise in the comments section of your social media.
Check All Scheduled Posts
Many companies use a social media management strategy of recycling old posts. But before you keep that normal cycle, read through your scheduled posts to make sure they are still relevant and appropriate in light of the pandemic.
This issue was much more common in the early days of the pandemic when social media managers were not as sensitive to the issue as they are now. For example, Corona Beer released a new line of hard seltzer waters at the end of February, just as the pandemic was starting to get serious in the U.S.
The tagline for the ad read: Coming ashore soon.
It didn’t fair well with the American audience as people started adjusting to the new normal of lockdowns and changes to daily life.
However, in Corona’s defense, the World Health Organization did not label COVID-19 a pandemic until March 11 so there wasn’t the heightened awareness that there is now.
If you’re looking for expertise to help you manage your social media, contact New Light Digital. We’ll help you set the right tone and produce valuable content that connects you with your customers during the coronavirus pandemic.