This is a practical guide to maintaining creative social media during the coronavirus crisis.
Actually, all of the advice here is relevant at any time, but it’s pretty vital now.
There’s loads more I want to tell you, but I’ve brutally edited it down to 5 areas that I think will be most useful for comms, PR and marketing pros right now.
Focus on what’s important to your audience.
There are things you will want to tell people about your organisation, services, products.
But, especially in the early weeks of the crisis, it’s so important to put your own concerns second. Think hard about what your audiences cares about right now.
Empathy is a superpower.
In their own way, your audience is likely to feel stressed, disorientated, worried, and frustrated. Acknowledge that. Even if it’s just to say “It’s has been a very tough few weeks,” like Jet Blue’s CEO did.
Rather than saying some version of ‘we’re still selling dresses’, they choose a measured, positive but sensitive way to handle it.
They focus on the audience, giving disappointed brides-to-be with the message ‘Don’t give up on your dream”.
Pronovias are also giving NHS workers free wedding dresses. When I saw this, I was so touched, I had to suppress a big soppy tear. This is how they talk about it.
“Donating our wedding dresses to wonderful women is the least we can do to bring happiness and joy to their wedding day, making them look and feel their best.”
That is a creative and sophisticated way to communicate. Lush.
This good feeling allows me to feel good about their brand, and shows that they are not just squeezing the situation for money.
Last week, when Lesley and I decided to give NHS communicators over £19,000 worth of free places on our online Social Media Expert Course, we did it to make ourselves feel good, so we didn’t feel quite as powerless to help.
Little gestures like that show our support and spread a little cheer, but we obviously continue to run our business in tough circumstances. We try to help, and also carry on as best we can.
On the other hand, a few days ago my bikini wax salon told me about their business concern and why they want to stay open. It felt like my safety – and public health – was the last thing they cared about.
I won’t be letting them remove hair from my nether regions once this is all done.
2. Bring good news stories where you can.
We all need these rays of hope.
If you can find a way to be uplifting, you’ll reach your audience in a meaningful way that builds love for your brand.
Plus you’ll get the benefit of the warm and fuzzy feeling of shining a little light into the darkness – which is good for your stress levels.
Congratulations to these two – they got engaged at our Tonbridge store this week 💍
He had planned to propose in Iceland but as their holiday was cancelled, he chose the next best thing 😉
— Iceland Foods ❄️ (@IcelandFoods) March 20, 2020
3. Be clear.
Here is a great list of terms you can use to be sure you’re free of jargon and can be understood by as many people as possible. Nice work from Lizzie Bruce.
Comms people, here's a free to use coronavirus and COVID–19 #ClearLanguage list.
— Lizzie Bruce (@CakeContent) March 18, 2020
And here’s a quick message about your messaging.
Might seem obvious to us #comms folk, but many of the messages we are receiving lack clarity.
And clarity may save lives.
— Hel Reynolds “Keep the change, ya filthy animal” (@HelReynolds) March 24, 2020
That's why this was such a genius message by the BC medical health officer 😀 pic.twitter.com/w0WeAWroBZ
— Diane Wild (@deekayw) March 24, 2020
4. Be chatty.
It’s SOCIAL media, not corporate media.
People want to chat. Reply to people who talk to you like a you would to a neighbour.
You wouldn’t talk over the garden fence with a pre-approved statement, in formal language.
Not only will this make you seem like an approachable, human brand – it will educate you.
You can learn a lot from real conversations with people, about what they are worried about, amused by, hungry for more information about.
Knowing what people really feel, will help you to create better content that will help your wider audience.
Social media is not just a place for information sharing, it’s a place for conversation.
You can bring the ‘social’ to your social media during the coronavirus crisis. Just be understanding and kind, and your tone of voice will be perfect.
If you or a team member feel unsure about talking to people directly, refer back to our guide to responding to people on social media.
5. Respond to rumour.
After people raised concerns online that Monzo might go bust, the bank responded by going back to number one on this list – focusing on what’s important to your audience.
Monzo know people are seriously worried about how the crisis will affect their money.
Rather than dwelling on if they will or won’t go bust, they showed they are in control, by offering their customers reassurance about their money, and positioned themselves as the people who can help (as opposed to being a company in need of help).
We're here to help if coronavirus is affecting your money.
And your eligible money in Monzo is protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) 😌https://t.co/Icg9fsRuOj
— Monzo (@monzo) March 19, 2020
So, that’s some general advice on communicating on social media during the coronavirus crisis – I hope it helps.
If you’d like a little more personalised help or advice for your organisation – give me a shout.
For a few months, I’m offering private video advice calls, where you can get advice, reassurance or ideas for your communications and marketing.
I can help you with managing your brand’s social media during the coronavirus crisis, tricky messaging, social media strategy, and taking a creative approach to your communications.
And if you want to bust some stress and keep your creativity flowing, have a go – for free – at our #31DaysOfCreativity challenge.
I would highly recommend doing this #31DaysOfCreativity challenge from @commscreatives – I completed it in January and it was fantastic, not only did I learn lots of new skills from the tasks, I connected with so many new people… something that is more valuable than ever now! https://t.co/zhgA3BcTTJ
— Charli Elizabeth Bevan (@CharliComms) March 16, 2020