In times like these, it’s important to remember the power social media has to connect us, whether it’s friends, family, or clients. Social media can be our most valuable liaison and a driver of positivity in the midst of uncertainty. In the guide below, we’ll share the best practices for social media strategy during a crisis.
Authenticity is key
Authenticity should be at the core of every social interaction. In times of crisis, it’s better to address your audience with facts and honesty than to ignore the present situation. There’s a good chance others are feeling the weight of reality and expressing unity goes a long way. Transparency, combined with information from vetted sources, does a lot to maintain credibility and rapport with an audience.
General tips and best practices
- Make sure content is new and relevant. Be mindful about what and when to post, because information overload can be stressful. Sharing helpful facts with your target audience provides value while repeating old news creates noise.
- Don’t just speak, listen. Encourage your audience to participate in your dialogue. It’s okay to ask followers what kind of content they want to see, and it might even make creating or planning content easier.
- Words are powerful; be mindful of how you use them. COVID-19 created a number of new terms and new connotations for existing words. Be sure to understand which are applicable to your message and use them correctly. For example, do you know the difference between isolation and quarantine? Find out with the AP Stylebook’s guide to COVID-19 words and terms.
- Here are a few tips from our friends at Sprout Social:
- Don’t go dark on social media. Research shows that 85% of people are more likely to continue supporting a brand during a crisis if that brand is transparent. Continue providing factual, regular content to maintain trust.
- Develop short-, medium- and long-term plans. Envision what things will look like in the new normal and how that affects your brand. Clearly and concisely communicate this to your target audience.
How to source visual content
We’ve all seen countless coronavirus graphics circulating the internet and social media. Providing visuals with content is the best way to reach an audience, but sometimes we don’t have access to a vast image library and can only repeat a graphic so many times. While scientific and medical images serve a purpose, they may not do your newsfeed any favors.
Here are a few tips for sourcing good, free images:
- There are a number of stock image websites like Unsplash and Pixabay that offer free images. For more variety, consider Stocksy, iStock and TONL, which offer images at varying costs.
- Source relevant images by issuing a call-to-action to the community. User-generated images are a great way to involve the audience in the discussion and ensure content is current. Do a general call for images or start a competition with prizes for the best content. Either way, be sure to specify that by participating, users grant permission for their photos to be used in current and future campaigns.
- Avoid using images that may appear insensitive or untimely.
- Choose relevant photos that are consistent with and support your messaging.
Before you start your search, check out these graphics we’ve created for you.
Please feel free to download them and use them on your own social media pages.
Let’s talk hashtags
Using hashtags in social media posts allows messaging to spread beyond a brand’s existing audience and reach others interested in similar topics. They also serve as unifiers. Consider creating a tag unique to your audience and encourage people to participate in the conversation by using the hashtag in their posts. Be aware that frequently used hashtags can sometimes become co-opted by parties where the use doesn’t match the hashtag. Hashtags like #COVID or #coronavirus should only be used when posting about information related to COVID-19, not just to gain traction for what’s trending.
People and brands getting it right:
At T&C, our Tenets & Convictions challenge us to embrace transparency, honesty and trust. We’re proud of our clients and members of the community who are exemplifying those qualities in social media campaigns. Here’s a few examples of local brands getting wins during this crisis.
GCI is using social media to engage with its audience and encourage physical activity during this hunker down period. Its innovative tactics include interactive Instagram stories and live workouts hosted by brand ambassador Nick Hanson.
Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria has done a fantastic job of rallying the community with exclusive deals and being transparent about its ups and downs through this pandemic.
The Alaska Zoo has taken to social media to expand its distance learning, sharing fun facts and cute critter content suitable for all ages.
The Anchorage Museum has been proactive in making the switch to online experiences, sharing artist interviews and live musical performances to capitalize on the virtual trend.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center has been taking followers behind the scenes for a special look at its collections and is hosting an online art contest.
Burn & Bloom wasted no time transitioning to digital services, offering live and pre-recorded classes, as well as launching social challenges with unique tags.
We hope this social media strategy guide will be helpful in navigating the digital landscape during these challenging times. For other COVID-19 communications resources, check out our crisis and communications guide, tips for working from home and keep an eye out for our upcoming blog about mastering the video interview.
- Jovell Rennie