With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, businesses are asking themselves what is the right tone and frequency for marketing and social media content. Clearly these times are not business as usual. Thousands of people have died worldwide and we are not sure of the final human toll. Flip or jocular posts and captions might be inappropriate given the seriousness of the situation and the loss of life. Self-serving content might come across as taking advantage of a tragedy to promote oneself.
At the same time, business must go on. It is important to communicate with customers and business partners that your organization is prepared to tackle the challenges posed by COVID-19 and ready to support consumers and customers. Certainly this doesn’t mean that companies should cease all regular posts. In fact, it is important to continue regular business-related posts, but outreach must be finely tuned to strike the right tone while furthering the brand purpose.
We have prepared the following guidelines for clients who have asked us for specific guidance regarding social media during this time.
Tone: Be respectful but optimistic about the future. Post content that is sensitive while communicating the stability of the organization, its adaptability, and commitment to serving clients despite adversity.
- How is your organization handling the crisis? Demonstrate you are taking steps to ensure the safety of employees and others but continue to serve clients. What’s happening at the office, at the warehouse? Update your audiences on business operations and how it can affect customers or partners. For example, Nike announced it is closing retail stores because of COVID-19 but continuing to take orders online.
- Celebrate heroes. Individuals within your industry are putting themselves at risk to bring the pandemic under control or to minimize human suffering. Doctors and other healthcare workers are examples. So are air crews, who are helping people get home despite risk to themselves.
- How is technology helping? Many companies have technology that is being applied to controlling the pandemic. There’s nothing wrong with sharing how technology or expertise can help. For example, a client of ours in the environmental engineering industry was recruited to help combat the spread of pathogens in facilities.
- Bullish on business, optimistic about the future. There’s enough doom and gloom in the media. In your content you can be sensitive but express confidence that we will get through this. The right motivational posts can be a bright spot in the social media feed. For example, Gulfstream recently posted on Instagram underscoring the importance of endurance in business.
- Condolences and/or sympathy. Genuine expressions of sadness about those who are suffering or when we lose a friend, colleague or industry leader are appropriate.
Striking the right tone during an emergency or crisis can be challenging, but it is important to maintain relationships through marketing, to have a positive outlook while being sensitive to suffering, and to demonstrate to your audiences that you are capable of handling adversity and will be there for them.