With the relentless surge of COVID-19 content, it’s time for marketers to reset their social media strategy. According to a recent Fixed study, Facebook is the primary platform used for COVID-19 news (35.8 percent). And people using Reddit as their primary source (12.4 percent) were the most likely to report feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of news. While continuous coverage is informative, there are several risks involved.
In recent weeks, many consumers have set time limits on how much COVID-19 news they view. Brands are being judged for sappy, consumer-coddling messages. Both extremes—going dark and overcommunicating—are fodder for criticism. Since the public continues to rely on social media channels to receive information and sustain personal and professional connections during this time, the onus is on communications professionals to effectively balance their social media strategy.
Social media must be approached in a very intentional way during this uncertain time. The need to ensure accurate and objective information has never been greater. Honest, balanced information must be the norm. With this in mind, the Ten22 team offers seven tips for social media posting during the COVID-19 crisis.
Lighten the Mood—It’s important to balance the dark side of the pandemic with the lighter side, such as good things happening due to humanitarian efforts. Post positive news along with the reality of the pandemic. For example, Mt. Sinai Health System in New York periodically shares a statistic on social media about how many patients have fully recovered from COVID-19. As of Sunday, May 10, over 5,000 patients have returned home.
Another bright spot is the positive effect of the pandemic on the environment. Mother Nature is thriving, at least in the short term, as humans give Earth a much-needed break. If posting news about the environment is not aligned with your company initiatives, consider other areas of positive news for your business or customers.
Keep Content Concise and Accurate—When sharing industry guidance or updates to help your audience navigate COVID-19 rules, keep the content short and accurate. For example, the American Medical Association may have revised their guidelines since the last time you shared an update with your social media followers. If so, list clear, concise details and dates in your post. The entire world is being exposed to an overwhelming volume of fluid information. As people seek trustworthy sources, combating misinformation is a top priority.
Share Reliable, Timely Information—Communication in crisis can be complex. Posting information before all the details are known often leads to misunderstanding and overreaction. This can happen in an effort to share information for safety purposes. Best practice is to hold off until you know all the facts rather than risk sharing unreliable material.
Show Your Face—Seeing familiar faces on social media is a welcome relief at a time when we are all deprived of human contact. Communicate via Zoom, FaceTime, videos and photos instead of a traditional text-heavy post. Virtual connection has become an effective way to conduct team meetings and have some fun with colleagues at the same time.
Craft Your Core Message—Create a message that captures your company’s core values. Convey your message to customers in a way that clearly communicates your approach to public relations and marketing. Develop appropriate guidelines for staff to follow in their social media communication.
Engage Your Customers—Agency Ten22 works with healthcare IT companies making crucial contributions in response to COVID-19. Our job is to support and promote their extraordinary efforts. Communicate with customers and promote their good work through social media with links to articles, blogs, press releases, videos and related news posts. Everyone is looking for the helpers. Shine a light on companies doing good during this time.
Decide What to Post, or Not—Deciding what is appropriate to share during this time can be difficult. If you post a brand-focused, non-coronavirus update to your social media account, how will your audience respond?
Above all, if the content you’re considering is not relevant, sincere and timely, don’t post. Instead, research new strategies, analytics or new social media platforms to see what was working before this pandemic.
Beth Friedman is founder and CEO of Agency Ten22, a boutique, full-service public relations and digital content agency for healthcare IT companies.