COVID-19: 10 Social Media Guidelines

Mar 19, 2020 Christine Montes

Before you dig into the next 829 words on this page, please take just a moment to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and repeat, “We’re all in this together.” I’ve been finding myself repeating this mantra to family, co-workers, and clients multiple times a day because nothing is “business as usual” during these uncertain times.

So how can we come together if we can’t physically be in the same room? Phone, video (Zoom, Fuze (one of our wonderful clients), FaceTime, etc), media (print and broadcast) guessed it: social media. Personally, I know that my FaceTime usage and social media consumption has gone up approximately 90% in the past two weeks. Who’s with me? 

More and more people are at home, online, and searching for answers. As a brand, it’s your job to listen, understand, and empathize with your communities. Why? Because this is how you will reach/connect with them on an ongoing basis. 

With the “we’re all in this together” mantra in mind, here are 10 social media guidelines to consider when creating content and engaging with your customers and potential new consumers during this isolating time–as told through journalist and brand Tweets:

  1. Be kind, not tone-deaf: Now is not the time to take advantage of the current news cycle or try to make light of it. For any planned social content, be sure to review & even pause campaigns to revisit the topics you covered and the language you used. If it’s promotional, postpone it. If it isn’t, has the topic been affected by the virus? If so, how is it being addressed? Be sure to update your content strategy accordingly.
  2. Less is more: Patagonia has slowed down its normal posting cadence but has not stopped posting altogether. They’ve done a great job communicating the safety measures they are taking as a company, while also including uplifting content that still is true to their brand persona and not overly promotional. Not every piece of content needs to be about COVID-19, and it is ok to slow down your posting cadence in times of crisis. 
  3. Now is not your time to shine: Now is the time to really put your customer’s needs top-of-mind. Take a look at your paid social campaigns, pause anything that screams “buy my product,” and pivot more toward an advice-based piece of content. We’ve noticed a dip in engagement rates for branded content as this topic rules users’ newsfeeds, so you may see a slight decline in your monthly metrics. Take that into consideration when tracking your KPIs. 
  4. Listen, be helpful: The best way to ease someone’s mind is to help them manage their current stressors. Your audience comes to your page for a specific reason. Poll them across each platform to see what type of content they are most interested in at this time, or what they would find helpful. Then follow up with the advice or a unique point of view from an expert (e.g. your executive team, partner, etc.), or drive them somewhere where they can learn more (e.g. blog, organizations that can help those in need).   
  5. Transparency, transparency, transparency: Okta (another InkHouse client) is hosting a public #AMA over Zoom with their CEO, and they’ve made their annual customer conference free to the public. We’re all already feeling isolated enough, so if you are offering advice or a service that can help others in this time of need, make it inclusive.  
  6. Read the (virtual) room: Set up search feeds to monitor how people are talking about COVID-19 in general, specifically within your industry and in relation to your company-based communications. Do your research to understand what makes them tick, what answers they are looking for, and how your brand can help before planning out your next week of content.   
  7. Actions speak louder than words: To be opportunistic is viewed as predatory. Period. Comment on this situation only if your team can offer a unique point of view or you have the means to actually put your words into action. 
  8. Remind them of the good: Although we may not feel extremely lucky this St. Patrick’s Day week it’s important to keep spirits high within your social media communities. Providing interactive and lighthearted content is the perfect way to brighten up your feed during tough times.
  9. If it feels like a stretch, it probably is: “Stop trying to make fetch happen!” COVID-19 is ruling our newsfeeds, newspapers, and conversations. Not everything you post has to be related to it. 
  10. Use your best judgment: Trust your gut. As we’ve said before, social media is one big test. Monitor your content and have drafted responses ready for any inquiries regarding what your business is doing for employees, your community and what this means for your business.

It’s time to connect, support one another, and lift each other up no matter what your medium. #WeAreInThisTogether so don’t hesitate to reach out or follow us for more advice on how to navigate these uncertain times. 

Topics: digital strategy, digital PR
Christine Montes

Christine Montes is the Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy based in our San Francisco office. She has ten years of experience in building, managing and executing social media, and influencer strategies for a variety of clients.

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