By TJ Jordan, Social and Innovation
After India’s entire 1.3 billion population was told to stay at home on the 25th March, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic reached a previously unimaginable scenario: One in four human beings on this planet are currently cut off from all but essential social contact.
Apart from one kind.
Whilst social media has always been a medium that enhanced our global connectivity, the last few weeks have seen it elevated to the principal form of social contact available to isolated individuals and global companies alike. So how can organisations leverage the power of social to continue their work and communicate with stakeholders in these challenging times?
To establish an appropriate tone across channels, it is important to acknowledge the micro pictures of the COVID-19 pandemic. Content should remain focused on stakeholders, not the brand. We are living through a global emergency that threatens the individual lives and livelihoods of real people who could be your customers or employees.
As a starting point, review any ongoing or upcoming content calendars and think about the help (relevant resources or services), information (reliable education and tips) and leadership (confidence and inspiration) your organisation can deliver through social content. And don’t forget to provide hope by continuing to celebrate people, whether it’s commending employees or highlighting external stories. For paid advertising, check the tone is not too salesman-like, or if ads are no longer relevant because of company closures. Remember, as long as you sense-check everything for tone-deafness, not all of your content has to be related to COVID-19.
As influencers take on roles as extra household members, consider whether your brand could pivot towards influencer trends borne out of our new living situations (fitness, cooking, entertainment etc.). Executive leadership carries perhaps more importance than ever as stakeholders look for reassurance. Make sure you modify planned strategies to address the matter at hand to remain direct and transparent.
If you’ve had to cancel events, social provides a multitude of alternatives. From simple options such as blog posts or live Twitter chats, to live streaming webinars on Facebook and LinkedIn, explore which digital format is right for the content. With the right strategy you could speak to an even larger audience than the planned in-person event.
While this situation presents opportunities on social, it also presents pitfalls. When working with a medium that can move at lightening pace, developing risk mitigation protocol is paramount. For instance, your organisation has a responsibility rather than an option to defer to global health authorities on stats, facts and medical advice. Engage daily social listening practices if possible. Evaluate how your audience is reacting to both your and others’ content to locate the seeds of crises before they happen.
Listen to the individual voices of your audiences, too. Community managers should help where they can help. When it’s not possible, avoid opportunism. Genuine empathy and honesty will be valued by users.
Above all, remain flexible with every aspect of your work. As the situation changes hour-by-hour, social strategies should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they are meeting their underlying objective: to authentically communicate with and support stakeholders through this period of unprecedented instability.