Posting on social media during this odd time of Coronavius may seem insensitive. You don’t want to add to useless noise and tout your business, especially when it is closed. But then, what can you even talk about online right now? Here are some ideas.
Should you post on social media at all?
This is the first question we hear from everyone. The answer is yes. Do not stop posting. According to a crisis communicator who shared some useful info in a webinar we attended, not posting is a mistake many people make. Her perspective on this was in situations where the business was tied into the crisis. For example, if you’re the CDC, now is not the time to be quiet on social. 🙂
From a marketing perspective, with your business closed, you may think it’s best to go quiet. Maybe for your business that makes sense in some cases. But in general, it’s better to keep communicating here and there to keep your name out there.
Besides, guess where people are right now? Online!
How to Social During a Crisis
With that in mind, do the following:
- Create a plan. Your company may have a crisis communication plan, formal or informal — or you may not. A global pandemic isn’t a situation most of us have dealt with or expected. But when things go wrong, such as a hurricane here in North Carolina, it’s nice to have at least a sketch of a few things. Depending on the size of your business, your plan might outline who’s in charge or who’s on the crisis team, plus contact info. This plan should have a social media plan and policy (the latter of which you should already have). Who will handle internal/external communication?
- Stop all of your other content. Whatever posts you had scheduled, delete them or hold off on them. During the Coronavirus outbreak here in the U.S., things changed quickly from “weird but OK,” to “wow, this is serious.” This happened over a weekend. Before then, it seemed OK to keep posting some basic content. After that, it was no longer appropriate. The timing of this will, of course, vary by the crisis. But it’s better to control your messages each day and confirm them so that a Tweet scheduled three weeks ago doesn’t go out at the most inappropriate time.
- Consider your key messaging. If your business is closed right now, your goal is to be real and keep yourself out there. Don’t ignore the situation. You’re there to offer empathy, honesty, and transparency about what’s going on and how it’s affecting your business. Provide value, keep showing up. And be sure to walk in the customer’s shoes. What would they want or need to hear from you right now?
- Get a second set of eyes to check your social media posts. That way, at least two people can judge each post and whether it makes sense in the current climate.
- Make sales pitches or “hard sell” your product or service. This is not the time.
- Go off brand. While it’s fine to thank our healthcare teams or whomever, don’t stray too far from your community or things related to your brand and company.
- Pretend it’s business as usual and continue social media as you typically would.
Examples of Social Media Posts
Now that you have a plan and some ideas of the “don’ts,” what are you posting? Here are some ideas:
- How customers can reach you during this time, especially if they have an emergency.
- Information from CDC, WHO, or local news that’s useful and applies to your industry or community.
- Takeout/carryout options or how to order or pick up your product, if applicable.
- Any online events you’re hosting or organizing.
- Community-related information about where you can donate or how you can help during this time.
- Photos of your team making masks or working from home or something related so customers can see your faces and feel connected.
- Videos of you/your team talking about community and/or your business during this time and how that impacts customers.
- Fun, lighthearted posts are fine, as long as you’re sure the joke will go over well.
- Useful information to help your customers while they are at home that relates to your industry.
How often should you post?
How often you post during this time depends on your business. You will probably post less frequently, especially if you are closed. If you’re providing real value, it’s OK to post somewhat often.
How should you handle employees who may be posting?
Your social media policy for employees who post on their personal accounts should be spelled out before things like this happen. But if you don’t yet have a policy in place, there’s no time like the present! If needed, you might send a company-wide message related to this. If your team members are sharing on social how they are not working at all while “working from home,” how will you handle that?
Are you posting to social media right now? What are some of the ideas you’ve produced?
Related: How to Turn a PR Fail into a Win