Social Media Marketing and Management for Brands During the COVID-19 Pandemic

To say that these are uncertain times would be an understatement. With many businesses scaling back operations, or temporarily closing, as part of COVID-19 protection measures, social media is playing a crucial role in how they are communicating with their customers. Social media management during COVID-19 may be critical to the success of many brands.

There will rarely be a time when you have as much attention on your company as right now. Not only are customers looking to you for updates about how you are handling your operations and what it means to them, but with more people practicing “social distancing” right now, there are more people online and on social media at any given moment. If there is any point in this year so far where brands need to “get it right,” when it comes to social, it’s now. Exactly how to get it right will really depend on your current social media strategy, industry, and, most importantly, the community you serve. There are some best practices that apply to every brand and business.

Social Media Strategy During COVID-19

Ideally, you started this year with a social media, content and influencer marketing strategy in place to help you achieve your marketing goals. You don’t need to abandon it; in fact, for many brands, that strategy is what’s going to keep your digital marketing humming over the next few weeks. You will, however, need to make some adjustments to accommodate the current events and impact it has on your business and your community.  

If you don’t have a social media content marketing strategy, you’ll want to focus on some tactics in the short term while you work on creating a strategy to implement while we’re all going through this.

Regardless of your ultimate goals for social media marketing, whether it be for sales, brand awareness or thought leadership, for most brands, your objective right now should be to establish trust, provide customer service and build relationships. This has always been true for social media, and should continue to guide your strategy, even while we’re in uncertain times.

Your Brand Tone on Social Media During COVID-19

For your regularly scheduled content and day-to-day type of social media posts, nothing should change drastically. Stay consistent to the brand voice you’ve established in social. For updates about COVID-19, be direct, sincere and human. Remember who you are speaking to and take your community into consideration. If you have a social media marketing agency in your corner, work with them to craft the right tone for your COVID-19 related messages.

Social Media Management During COVID-19: What to Post and How Often

Whether or not you continue to create and publish new posts according to your editorial calendar will greatly depend on your industry, your community and how COVID-19 is affecting both. If you are in an industry that hosts live events or large groups regularly, social media content may look very different for you right versus a company offering online learning software for kids. A good social media agency will take into account who is following them on social and what their needs are and then determine if what they originally planned to post during this time is still appropriate. If you’re not working with an agency, talk to your community manager and take a quick look into your audience insights or analytics to learn more about the demographics following you on each platform and take that data into consideration as you plan content during this time.

Post content that your customers and fans will appreciate during this time, as long as it’s aligned with your brand and its values. For example, if you are a catering company, you may want to skip the post with tips for throwing the ultimate birthday bash and create a quick video on how to recreate a special recipe at home, instead.

If you think creatively, this is an excellent time to build brand awareness and subtly generate excitement for your establishment or products. Zoos, theater groups, museums and other businesses that offer in-person experiences are live-streaming performances or offering free virtual tours. If you’re adding value to your audiences’ lives right now, you will reap the benefits of it later. As people of all ages are eager to participate virtually, this will inevitably lead to greater brand engagement in the future,  if they enjoyed what they were able to experience online. 

Most importantly, be sensitive to your audience. Are they mostly senior citizens or millennials? What’s their biggest concern right now? You don’t have to directly address those concerns but the content you create and share can help, even if it’s just to put a smile on their face for a few minutes.

For the most part, we recommend keeping to your already-established posting cadence on your existing brand topics and themes. But, again, this will depend greatly on how the pandemic is affecting your online community.

What Should Your Brand Say About COVID-19 on Social Media?

Depending on your industry and location, you may want to keep your community updated about how you are handling COVID-19 as it relates to your operations, employees and customers. This should be done in a timely manner, as it’s clear that the situation is rapidly changing and your response could change just as quickly. While there is no need to go overboard or post too frequently, it’s important to let your customers know about any changes you are making and to reassure them by letting them know what steps you are taking to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

Whether or not you share other information about COVID-19 will depend on your industry. Healthcare brands may want to post the latest news, though most brands will want to stick with sharing only the virus-related news that has a relevant impact on their own business, such as restaurants sharing about local ordinances or regulations.

If you take nothing else away from this post, take this: Only post information from credible sources and fact-check everything. I’ll say it again, just to be clear:

Only post information from credible sources and fact-check everything!

You do not want your brand associated with misinformation or rumors. If you lose the trust of your community now, you may never be able to regain it.

In addition to posting your own COVID-19-related updates in social media, if you’re in an affected industry, we recommend sending occasional emails to your customers about your COVID-19 updates, keeping in mind that not everyone will see them in their social feeds.

A Note About COVID-19 Humor in Social Media

Everyone likes a good joke once in a while.  Some companies have built their entire brand being tongue-in-cheek. Just be careful to not cross the line between delivering a good chuckle and being distasteful. Remember, social media is about your audience, not your personal tastes. So, while you, personally, might find something funny, think twice before posting to make sure that it’s something your online community will appreciate.

If your brand is not currently established in passing along humor or memes via social, now is not the time to start. This is the time to remain as consistent as possible.

Employees and Social Media During COVID-19

It’s not a far stretch to imagine that many employees will be more active on social media right now and their own friends and family may be looking to them for updates about your business. Now would be a good time to review your corporate social media policy and remind your colleagues of it. If you don’t have one in place, talk to your social media agency about what best practices you can implement and communicate those with your team as quickly as possible.

The best approach you can take with social media marketing and management during the COVID-19 pandemic is to remain as consistent as possible and keep your community updated in a sincere and timely manner. Use this time when more people will be online to build trust and develop relationships, instead of begging for the sale. By doing this, you will show your customers and potential customers that you are a company that is putting their needs first instead of yours. Your customers will remember and thank you with their loyalty and patronage when the worst of this COVID-19 situation has passed.

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