The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has created uncertainty and confusion for many businesses. While some have been forced to shut altogether, others can continue operating exclusively online, while still others are deemed essential and are still operating as normal, albeit with increased hygiene measures in place.

In most cases, there’s not much brands can do apart from ride out the storm. However, the way you respond to this crisis and communicate with your customers could determine your future success once the pandemic is over.

People are looking for answers on how to stay safe, how businesses are responding to COVID-19, and whether the products or services they want can still be purchased or delivered. They are wondering how businesses will continue via alternative methods such as online shopping.

To address these concerns and stay relevant in their customers’ eyes, businesses need to develop a thorough and regular communication plan for all stakeholders. With people mostly confined to their homes, social media is the ideal platform for this.

If you’re managing the social media for your organisation, here’s what you should consider:

Stay sensitive and relevant

Brands need to actively address the COVID-19 situation while balancing out this content with brand-specific content. You can’t stick to a content calendar that was developed before the pandemic hit; everything has changed. Brands must stay sensitive and relevant.

The content you share should include revised business hours and methods of operation, as well as content which provides a little fun and entertainment.

Quality is more important than quantity right now as no one wants to be bombarded with irrelevant content. Keep a close eye on your metrics for each post to determine how well that content is received. When you start to see certain types of content gaining cut-through, you can skew your campaign towards similar types of content.

Be consistent

Each post should contain one unified message across all social platforms. Lots of consumers use a range of platforms and it’s important not to confuse them but, instead, to reinforce the message you are communicating.

Be timely and relevant

A social media post that seemed perfect 24 or 48 hours ago may no longer be relevant in this fast-changing situation. Therefore, you should review the tone of voice and current news environments over the last 24 hours to ensure planned posts are still appropriate, timely and relevant.

Be a thought leader

If your content is valuable, customers will begin to think of the brand as a thought leader. This helps to achieve positive brand awareness and relevance.

As a guide, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when planning your social media campaign, especially if you want to be a thought leader:

  • How are you appealing to or improving people’s current and future wellbeing?
  • Is your product or service available or beneficial currently? If not, what content are you offering that can help fill the gap until your product or service is available again?
  • What type of language is acceptable, accessible, and will build trust? Conversely, what could be misappropriated or misinterpreted? Now’s the time for clarity so edit your posts carefully.
  • Are your sources of information trustworthy and accurate?

Talk about how you plan to help

You can use social media to communicate how you plan to help customers during and after the crisis. For example, you may be able to put payments on hold, offer free trials of your product, or provide services that businesses or individuals need during this time.

This approach is likely to make customers feel valued and supported, and therefore more likely to exhibit brand loyalty once the crisis is over.

Humanise your brand

Right now, social media, especially LinkedIn, provides a chance to humanise your brand by promoting company news. You can also use these platforms to grow professional networks and publish thought-leadership content from key stakeholders including CEOs and managers.

Here are some key considerations for building your audience on social media:

  • Who is your audience and what content will they expect to see?
  • Which social media platforms are relevant for your audience?
  • How often content will be leveraged across each platform?
  • How you will craft your brands message within each post?
  • Who will undertake community management?

Beware of scammers

In times of confusion, organisations can be targeted by scammers who create fake accounts and attempt to divert funds for their own profit. It’s essential for businesses to keep a close eye on social media and act immediately to stop scammers in their tracks.

Where to from here

Social media can be extremely powerful for organisations in all sectors, especially now when the world is hungry for information and connection. If your business doesn’t have a social media platform in place, now’s the time to start. Not only will it help you improve your communications with your customers, but it will also alert you to any branding or trust issues that may be developing, letting you address them sooner.

When developing content for your social media strategy, there are four key questions to consider:

  • Does your content create emotional connections through stories?
  • Is your content timely, relevant and trustworthy?
  • Is your content generating engagement from your target audience?
  • Can you recruit followers into ambassadors for your brand?

Overall, your social media investment should be quantifiable and be used to create meaningful connections and foster engagement that lasts longer than one or two posts.

For independent and individual recommendations to help your business navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, contact us today.