Given the current circumstances with the corona virus pandemic, conditions and environment are changing rapidly and are dramatically impacting the direction and communication of many companies at the moment and many companies are still in crisis communication mode.
However, many companies are moving from crisis mode to “closed mode” or have rapidly reduced their operations. The key question is:
If you have already adapted to the “new normal” when it comes to your business, there is much you can do to strengthen your brand and reputation. Here are some tips to help you navigate these unknown waters.
Forget about marketing your business and focus on what you can do to help others. That is the best way to strengthen your brand right now.
The impact of this global pandemic is huge, and social media is not immune.
For brands and companies that may be struggling with canceled events, work, a substantial decrease in customers, or too many customers in a panic, social media is just another thing to worry about. But it is something that should be reviewed, never ignored.
Here are some important recommendations for the crisis:
1. Review and, if necessary, pause your planned and scheduled content
Take a look at every post you’ve scheduled or plan to share and consider how it will be taken in today’s environment. Its content most likely comes between a warning for people to wash their hands and news coverage of another COVID-19 case.
Is the event you aligned your posts with still happening or has it been canceled? Is this the right time to promote your products? Does the funny prank you programmed two months ago actually now seem muffled and callous?
If you have any questions about the content, press the pause button. It is wise in current times to be empathetic.
2. Don’t try to take advantage of the pandemic.
Coronavirus is not a marketing opportunity. It is not something you should capitalize on. It is very sad that I have to explain this, but I already see social media ads and email campaigns from companies that make this extremely wrong mistake.
This is an unprecedented, open, global event that can affect all brands, businesses and individuals. People are actually dying and many people are afraid. This is not something you want to associate your brand with.
You don’t want the brand to show up as a mockery example. You don’t want to compromise the trust you’ve been building with your audience and customers. You don’t want to destroy your reputation just for the sake of additional sales.
Basically, don’t try to benefit from a pandemic.
3. Keep communicating with your audience.
So far we have talked about what you shouldn’t be doing. It may be tempting to walk away from social media entirely, but now is not the time.
Whether it’s caused by panic, curiosity, or the sheer boredom of spending more time at home, your audience will be spending more time on social media. And they are looking for some things:
People search for answers. They want to know how to stay safe. They want to know what the risks are and they want to know if the events are going on or if they can really buy an item they have been looking for. If you have credible and useful information, you should share it on social media. However, don’t try to pose as an expert if you’re not. Misinformation, opinions and exaggerated claims are really dangerous in a crisis. This is a time to share only what you know to be true.
Customer service and support
Your business or brand may see an influx of questions. People will wonder if the events have been canceled; whether they can still buy your product or how you are reacting to the crisis. You can stay ahead of the increase in questions by openly sharing relevant information and business updates on your social media channels. You can also add information to the relevant sections of your website or send an email to your customers. Of course, passing this information on isn’t going to answer all the questions. Make sure you are monitoring your social media channels, direct messages and emails to answer any questions that come up. You may want to create a database of frequently asked questions that you and your staff can refer to for all the answers.
Connection and community
At a time when we are all advised to take social distancing measures, many people will long for connection and a sense of community. This is where social media shines. Despite all the pessimism, you still need to try to build a sense of community on your channels. Gather your audience and continue to celebrate the good news, as long as you are respectful of the mood of your audience. Remember, people are unlikely to turn to your brand for friends and family for support, but friendships and deep connections can be forged online, so be ready to help people in need.
We know that people turn to social media to entertain themselves when they are bored. Right now, news sources are heavy places full of bad news and overwhelming announcements. A little fun and sun may be just what people need. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun and lighten things up a bit on your social media channels. However, you must still be aligned with the brand and be careful and respectful of its content. The Internet and social networks is a very agile environment to bring down people who act like imbeciles. Things had better be a little calmer than a “prank” post to link your brand to the crisis and damage your reputation.
4. Don’t contribute to panic.
Retail experts have stated that the panic buying phenomenon that saw people fighting over packages in the supermarket may, in part, be attributed to social media coverage. When our news sources (and the news) were flooded with images of empty shelves, people who hadn’t panicked started to worry that toilet paper wasn’t available when they needed it … so they rushed to the stores too to stock up.
The things you share online can have unintended consequences, so be careful and don’t share information that may contribute to the feeling of panic. This does not mean that your brand should not be open and responsible. If you have important or even bad news to share with a wider audience, don’t try to hide it. But try not to let your own feelings overwhelm you and become content that causes unnecessary distress.
You should also avoid retweeting, sharing, or expanding the scope of anything that is not verified or from a trusted source. Someone may be very good at kicking a soccer ball or crying at the right time, but that doesn’t mean they are adept at illness and public health measures.
5. Show empathy
This advice is not limited to a crisis or a pandemic: you should always show empathy on social media. However, it is particularly important to consider other people’s experiences, emotions, and fears during this time.
You may not be at great risk for the coronavirus, but that does not mean that other people are not in danger. Your company or brand may also be protected (what luck!), But that doesn’t mean that many other companies won’t be negatively affected by global closings, travel bans, and a sense of doom.
Before posting something, think about what you are saying. Think about how your audience and customers will receive that content, and others outside of that group. Your entire audience is unlikely to navigate this pandemic unaffected, so don’t let your content do more harm during this difficult time.