As we all try to navigate unusual circumstances in the age of COVID-19, many of us turn to social media for support and a sense of community. Being connected is more important now than ever as people rely on social media to stay in touch with loved ones, follow the news and keep entertained while in isolation.
In the early days of the pandemic, overall U.S. traffic from Facebook to other websites increased by 50% week-on-week. A global survey revealed that 44% of people worldwide in March were spending more time on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also last month, Facebook announced that in many of the countries hit hardest by the virus, total messaging had increased by more than 50% over the prior month.
But just because people are spending more time on social media doesn’t mean it’s business-as-usual.
On a normal day, interacting with your audience on social media requires sensitivity and forethought. When a major crisis erupts, however, health care providers and businesses must act quickly to redirect campaigns, adjust content calendars and generate new ideas to market their products or services.
So how should you be using social media for business during a real-world crisis or emergency? In the case of COVID-19, it’s a delicate balance. Don’t just stick with your old messaging – your organization may end up sounding tone deaf. But don’t limit your feed to COVID-19 content only. Below are five tips to help your business adjust your social media strategy to strengthen trust and connections with your audience during a crisis.
Review and update content calendars regularly
Context changes quickly in a crisis. Some campaigns or pieces of content that seemed appropriate two weeks ago may now be better suited for another time. Take the time to reevaluate your upcoming posts to tailor them to the changing needs of your customers. Be sure to remove or postpone posts that could make your organization seem out of touch.
Listen and acknowledge
Let your followers know you are listening to them and acknowledge the current climate. It sounds simple but being empathetic and humanizing your content can make all the difference in connecting your followers to your brand. Communicating honestly and compassionately, even with a small, “we understand these are challenging times,” shows you care and helps build trust with your audience.
Keep your followers informed about how you’re dealing with COVID-19 as the situation evolves. With so many organizations pushing out communications to their customers, make sure the information you provide remains relevant, clear and concise. If your organization’s transition to remote work impacts your hours, services or response time, share that information with your followers. Consider setting up an auto reply on Facebook to let your customers know when you are available online if you are unable to respond right away.
Have a social media policy in place
A social media policy ensures your organization can respond as quickly and effectively as possible. Your policy should include an up-to-date emergency contact list with your social media team, executive decision makers and/or legal advisors, as well as a set of social media response templates. Make sure you have an approval process for your response strategy to streamline this process.
While it’s important to respond promptly to your external audience, it’s equally as important to ensure your internal team is aware of your organization’s position in a crisis and conducts themselves appropriately online. Use this time to remind your employees of your organization’s social media policy, including any crisis-specific protocols. Keep monitoring your posts for any concerns from your employees or followers. While it’s never ideal to receive negative feedback, understanding these perspectives will help your organization develop content that is relevant to your audiences’ situation and needs.
Show How You’re Helping
Demonstrating your support for the community can provide a sense of hope during difficult times. Take this opportunity to reinforce your commitment to your customers and show them your brand is more than just your bottom line. If your organization has done something to help others during the COVID-19 crisis, share this on your social channels. We love these wonderful examples from our clients Compassus and Brighton Health Plan Solutions.