Social media use has increased dramatically as the stay-at-home economy has spread – in China by as much as 50%, according to a report last month by the market research company Statistica. How companies manage their social presence during the coronavirus outbreak is therefore of critical importance. Actions taken now, moreover, could be felt far beyond the virus’ immediate impact. Here, we review five key areas of social that companies need to be reviewing now.
Sitting this one out is not an option, however tempting it might seem. At the very least customers, clients and stakeholders need to know that you’re sharing their anxieties and experiences. Social media offers the most direct way to connect with these groups and let them know how you’re handling the outbreak. More broadly, the choice is between participating in the conversation or playing catch up – or worse, risk being called out for being out of touch and insensitive at a time of crisis.
Online sentiment can change in hours. Companies need to be alert not only to how they are being discussed, but also the wider conversations taking place. Google alerts offers a way to gain a heads up. Close monitoring of the conversations at owned and paid channels, moreover, will show if content needs to be changed or removed. False information needs to be identified and removed quickly.
In times of uncertainly much depends on maintaining trust. Social audiences are sharp and quickly see through spin and posturing. Brands that appear to be profiteering could provoke a hostile reaction. Online content should be checked for anything that could be interpreted as insensitive or unsafe. Does the company possess expertise or resources that could be helpful? Emotional connections built up during the outbreak will be remembered after it is over.
Events change from day to day; according to official guidelines, reporting in the mainstream media, and the ebb and flow of social media. Organisations must be alert to how each of these impact their social communications strategy and speedy in their responses. Just as important as the message is the way it is delivered; would a different communications platform offer greater flexibility? Could a different content mix produce stronger engagement?
Leave no room for doubt or rumour. Whether it is to inform, reassure, or inspire, social communications need to be clear and unambiguous. If you haven’t made one already, consider issuing a statement. Organisations will gain social credit for being upfront about the measures they are taking to protect themselves and the wider community.