Social media is an important instrument for communication and marketing in the times of COVID-19. To ensure effective communication even in a crisis, companies must continuously evaluate current social circumstances and moods and take them into account accordingly. Ideally, social media planning and community management should analyse and evaluate the current situation on a daily basis according to three aspects: planning, review and reaction.
It is important to note that these three points are not statically successive processes, often acting interdependently. Companies should examine all considerations within these three pillars to determine which issues and areas are most relevant and need to be immediately considered.
Creation of plans for handling and managing social media during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Determine the role of social channels. This may change depending on the needs of your business and current usage.
- Evaluate how your audience currently handles and interacts with your social media channels in relation to COVID-19.
- Are current campaigns necessary or relevant? Should social channels be used for employee and/or community relations?
- Is your core target group changing during the crisis? Everyone (media, customers, employees, applicants, shareholders, analysts) is watching how each individual organisation expresses and positions itself.
- Maintain daily contact with your social media teams to keep them informed of announcements, political and business changes that may affect campaigns and postings. Hold daily stand-up meetings (or even more often if needed) with community managers to coordinate announcements and news.
- Define or adjust the frequency with which community managers and social media analysts monitor your social channels and flag any unusual interactions and activities from the community.
- Definieren Sie Richtlinien für eine zeitnahe Reaktion – in dieser Situation ist es wichtig, schnell zu reagieren. Ebenso wichtig ist aber, die richtige Antwort zu geben und so Risiken vorab zu vermeiden. Community Manager sollten besonders vorsichtig sein, bevor sie etwas veröffentlichen oder auf eine Anfrage reagieren.
A review of all campaign content (current and upcoming) and your community managers' approach regarding current challenges in society and the market.
- Are current social media campaigns too opportunistic, particularly in areas affected by or related to COVID-19 (e.g. soap, travel, etc.) ?
- How would a cynical critic react if you published this content in the current health crisis?
- Consider the implications of all your social media content, particularly posts that encourage people to travel or attend events.
- Review targeted campaigns and local ad purchases. Are these campaigns running in markets particularly affected by COVID-19? Campaigns such as these may be less effective than intended due to the general change in public attention or could be considered insensitive, depending on the content.
- If the situation regarding COVID-19 is especially tense in certain regions, you may want to consider excluding these regions from the planned measures. Alternatively, hypertargeting can help respond to specific market needs.
- Make sure your content doesn’t contradict the recommendations of local authorities regarding the handling of COVID-19.
- Are there influencer programs or upcoming measures that need special attention? Check whether influencer campaigns should be continued and, if campaigns are already underway, make sure Q&As are made available for influencers to enquire how best to answer questions about your company's handling of COVID-19.
Development of social media guidelines as well as processes and answers to enable a timely, correct and efficient use of this medium in the current situation.
- Examine and update your social listing taxonomies to include a discussion of your brand, sector or category and COVID-19.
- Create COVID-19 guidelines and community-management, decision-making processes to ensure that all stakeholders understand how to respond to comments on social media. This should include existing pandemic declarations or policies from your company. Additional considerations that should be incorporated into the guidelines:
- Business processes that are directly affected (e.g. product shortages, plant shutdowns)
- When an employee may have, or is confirmed to have, the virus
- When a community in which a site or business of your company is located is affected, be that by an isolated case or major outbreak
- Make sure that the teams are aware of the escalation guidelines and understand its planned flow of information.
- If necessary, develop specific COVID-19 messages. For example, what actions your company or brand is taking to protect itself and all stakeholders against COVID-19 in their respective markets, companies or entities (retailers, manufacturers, etc.).
- In times of crisis, social media can also be used for employee and leadership communication, giving them the opportunity to share and represent the company's messages. For example, the coaches and board members of many sports clubs have published recent statements on social channels in the knowledge that employees will see, react to and share them.
- Monitor, modify or cancel social media ad bookings and targeted advertising when they conflict with the current market situation and your business. Get written confirmation from partners when bookings need to be suspended orcancelled.
- Develop plans to maintain the social media team to ensure that appropriate documentation and actions are initiated. This will minimize the impact on the team if a member is infected with COVID-19.
- Example: Make sure passwords and access to channels are not restricted to a single person and that remote access is possible if necessary.
- In some industries and sectors, the number of social media discussions will increase dramatically. Community management teams may need to consider increasing staff or introducing shift work.
- Stay informed on news and developments regarding COVID-19.