The suddenness and ferocity with which the Covid-19 pandemic has struck the world is unprecedented. With people forced to quarantine themselves and maintain social distancing, people’s lives and livelihoods have taken a downward spiral. However, the silver lining is that the crisis will blow over once a vaccine is found or herd immunity is developed. Till such time the new normal would be the disruption, which everyone is witnessing now. In such times how does our interaction with social media change or evolve? Is it time to leverage the power of social media to your advantage and accused of being exploiting a situation or remain with your target audience is the moot question? So, let us discuss a few things to do on social media during a crisis of such kind. Remember, never before in history, we had the power of the internet and as a corollary, the social media, to move forward even during a global pandemic like Covid-19. Let us make it count then instead of throwing our hands in despair.
# Don’t act in haste:
In times of crisis, it is usual to get panicky by thinking about the uncertain future. And in most cases, the first instinct is to take hasty decisions without taking every aspect of your business and the crisis into consideration. The result, however, can turn out to be adverse for your business. For example, if you write a post selling your products or services, your target audience is likely to feel surprised or worse, angry. They might think that you are exploiting a situation for business gain. So, the first lesson is not to go on a relentless business drive but understand what your audience might be thinking during such a crisis. Don’t go on posting content on your social media profile as if there is no tomorrow. Curate each post by keeping in mind the probable reaction of your audience. The social media post should strengthen your brand proposition and show the humane side of your business. Instead of being overtly business-like, try to assuage the concerns of your clients about the crisis by posting positive notes. In case you find it difficult to come with the right idea, take insights from the social media posts of reputed companies.
# Ask questions about your brand:
In the initial days of the crisis if you do not have any compelling case that your audience is looking at you for ‘guidance,’ do not comment. Ask yourself questions like – will your comment be seen as an attempt to milk the crisis or will your comment really help your audience to deal with the crisis? However, instead of sitting idle think about how your brand can be of help in such times. For example, can it take part in fundraising activities by involving the members of your audience to help the destitute hit hard by this crisis? So, plan your activities in such a way that your profile amongst the target audience rises. A look at the Facebook page of the World Health Organization can guide you to www.facebook.com/WHO/ about the type of messaging you should post.
While curating a well thought out and well-intentioned message during the crisis is important, care should be taken about the way to convey the message. Remember, your audience may be disproportionally impacted by the pandemic or is wary of its short- or long-term implications. So, your message should not appear as inconsiderate or out of place, say with memes, jokes, or GIFs. It is advisable to use your social media platform to disseminate information on the pandemic. Yes, you can share properly vetted humorous messages to spread cheer amidst the gloom.
# Sensible messaging:
There might be a tendency among businesses and brands to share information to their target audience about the pandemic. However, the information must be vetted and taken from reliable sources. Your post should not be seen to be fuelling panic with false or outdated information. Also, ensure proper use of hashtags as the wrong usage can lead to issues. For example, using #Covid19 hashtag your brand should not be seen as promoting itself. Rather leave such hashtags for concerned authorities or brands dealing with the crisis. Let’s understand one thing that a crisis situation is not a marketing opportunity.
# Business as usual:
It is possible that at some point the audience will get bored with the news about Covid-19. Rather they would look for normalcy. Your brand can review its approach at that point and recalibrate the strategy, especially with social media. Start with brand promotion by being human-centric rather than business-centric.
The present pandemic can be categorized as unprecedented for this generation and needed to be handled wisely by businesses. With social media emerging as the go-to platform for people locked inside their houses maintaining social distancing, your brand should leverage it properly. Be careful not to appear as exploiting the situation but be a responsible brand dealing with human emotions.
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