The entire world is learning together how to manage a global pandemic and there will be lessons learned at every level. In social media communications during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, it’s important to be responsible and thoughtful.
Current.org, a non-for-profit news service about public media offers some tips for properly managing social media in a COVID-19 world. The article includes:
- How to plan ahead of time, including considerations for remote work and changed workflow
- The importance of “social listening”—monitoring important keywords and issues to guide your own response
- Focusing on moderation and community guidelines to help responsibly manage misinformation
- Advice to review already published and scheduled posts to ensure current appropriateness.
- Avoiding opportunism that takes advantage of the pandemic.
Twitter’s Crisis Communication Advice
Social media giant Twitter also has some detailed, valuable advice on crisis communication management for brands in this unprecedented time.
Be Human First
Don’t be opportunistic, the article advises. This is a crisis, so it’s important not to try to capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, businesses should be aware that the unparalleled scope of the situation will have ramifications, so it requires planning and thoughtfulness to navigate properly. Twitter’s article refers to the current situation as a “new reality” in which it’s important to think about what kinds of communications are appropriate.
Know Your Brand
The article continues by advising business owners and social media managers to “know your brand”. Think about how your product or service fits into people’s lives and how these offerings can be helpful in this extraordinary time.
Stay up-to-date, the article recommends. Everything with the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing and changing fast—before you deploy any messaging across social media channels, make sure you are up-to-date with the latest news or you run the risk of putting out messages that might not be right for the current moment.
Be Aware of Tone
Twitter also advises tone is especially important. If your normal brand tone includes a “snarky” or “sarcastic” voice, it’s probably a good idea to act differently right now. Instead, focus on being empathetic and listening to customers to understand their state of mind, and reflect a tone that would be more appreciated by your customers.
Think About Changes in Your Customers’ Behaviors
The article points out that people will be shifting their consumer behaviors, and many businesses are already trying to accommodate people through e-commerce, live streaming, and other online options. Twitter advises businesses to think about what customers need and what new ways you might be able to connect with them right now.
Crisis Communications Considerations
Twitter offered a list of what people often seek in times of crisis—but not every business should do any or all of their suggestions, the article stressed.
Reliable information: Twitter suggests that if you have accurate and reliable information that is useful to people, you may want to share it on social media. They provided the example that retail and e-commerce brands might choose to keep people informed of stock availability in order to help prevent panic buying.
Employee support: The article points out that if you can, this may be a great opportunity to “lead by example” by sharing on social media measures you have adopted to support your own employees.
Direct customer service: Particularly if your business is very impacted by the coronavirus, social media can be a good platform to connect one-on-one for customer service, Twitter advises. Social media is also a good method to communicate new initiatives resulting from the coronavirus.
Genuine Effort: The article addresses the value of demonstrating to your customers that you know they have extra concerns right now and showing them that you’re “doing your best”. You could try sharing helpful tips for coping with these stressful times, even if it’s not directly connected to your business.
Distraction: Sometimes people just need a break, the article points out. Finding ways to offer something to smile about (as long as it’s appropriate) can help people escape the stressful news cycle.
Positive Outlook: Social media is all about connection. With many people in isolation due to coronavirus social distancing, the article stresses that it’s a good time to connect with people online and be a positive part of the community.
Keeping all this advice in mind, Twitter points out that coronavirus-related Tweets currently make up only 1 percent of all Twitter activity, meaning people are still seeking a lot of other content. If you have information that is relevant and thoughtful, it’s a good idea to share, but be consistent with your brand—you don’t have to be the face of all the latest pandemic news.
Twitter’s COVID-19 Ad Policy
The article presents a straightforward approach to advertising related to COVID-19—it’s prohibited. No content referring to the coronavirus is allowed. The social media giant only makes exceptions for official entities offering Public Service Announcements (PSAs). No targeting using related keywords is allowed at all. All advertising has to conform to ad policies and content policies.
The truth is, no one has been through this before. But by learning social media best practices for times of crisis, you can help your business or brand be a force for good and add value to your community.