Top tips for navigating social media during a crisis

A strong social media presence is integral to business success at any time, but it’s especially vital during a time of crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown trapping people at home and screen time on the rise, social media is a much-needed outlet for connection and conversation, especially among those who may be feeling isolated. This is where your social platforms come in.

Even if these channels have been underutilised in the past, stepping up your social media game in a time of crisis will help your firm stand out from the crowd.

Creatively engaging with your social audiences will help drive support from current – and potentially new – brand cheerleaders, ultimately giving your business a better chance of survival.

Here, our PR and Communications Manager, Samantha Booth, shares her top tips for handling social media communication during a crisis.

Put the needs of your audience first

It may be tricky to understand how your organisation can contribute to the current crisis in any meaningful way, and while your natural instinct may be to talk about your business, its services and products, strip your social strategy right back and put the needs of your audience first.

Think differently, focus on what your audience cares about right now and put your own needs second.

This will not only help create meaningful relationships during a time of uncertainty, but will also portray your firm as an empathetic one – generating goodwill and positive sentiment in the long run.

Little gestures show support

Show what your business is doing to help by communicating the little – or major – gestures that demonstrate your support. Have you donated to charity or took part in NHS fundraising efforts? Created a new service for local people or repurposed production lines to manufacture products that will benefit key workers? Tell your audiences about it.

Shine light into the darkness with these positive news stories wherever possible, and in turn show the caring, human element of your business. Focusing content on the wider good as opposed to your own business needs will allow people to feel positive about your brand.

Early on in the coronavirus crisis, Gary Neville’s hotel group GG Hospitality closed its hotels to the public and offered rooms free of charge to NHS staff who may need shielding from family members isolating at home. A great initiative which directly helps the crisis, while also fostering real connections between the business and wider public.

Conversely, tasteless stories about how your business is benefiting or making money off the back of a crisis comes across as careless and risks losing business in the future.

Adopt the right tone

Using an upbeat tone when communicating positive news stories will engage and inspire your community.

When it comes to more sensitive topics, remember to show compassion, empathy and honesty in all dialogue, especially in any communication about how the crisis is affecting the products or services you deliver.

Make sure you respond to rumour by releasing a statement on your social platforms which addresses the issue and provide updates often.

Pointing people to a corresponding article on your website will allow you to iron out the finer details, while using paid-for promotional tools on social channels can also help spread important messages quickly.

Monzo did this well when rumours started circulating that it may go bust, with the bank addressing the concerns of customers worried about what may happen to their money.

Replicate real life experiences online

Take a creative approach to your communication and achieve meaningful engagement by replicating physical experiences online.

Interact with your audience in real time through an Instagram Live session, or share ‘how to’ guides on Facebook and Instagram Stories. Remember to save these to your highlights, so they can be accessed again later, while content with no shelf-life can also be uploaded to social feeds, IGTV, YouTube and your website.

Work for a law firm? Foster connections by streaming live sessions exploring the latest government announcements, for example the furlough scheme, and what it means for employers and employees.

Run a restaurant? Ask your mixologist to film a cocktail masterclass via mobile video to keep your audience entertained during lockdown, or get your chef to host a cook-along for one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, like Asian food chain Wagamama.

Asking audiences to share content of them replicating these experiences at home will also help boost engagement.

Social recipe for success

Social media adds an element of speed to any crisis situation, with stakeholders often demanding real-time information from your brand.

Collaborate with your social audiences through quick, transparent responses, as well as creative content to show your brand is a cooperative one, and help it weather the storm with the ambassadors you’ll build.

Written by Samantha Booth, at Freshfield

For more information, please contact Samantha or the Freshfield team on 01772 888400.

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