Navigating social media in the time of COVID-19

As marketers and communicators, we are in an unprecedented time. No marketing/communications professional has ever had to manage social media through a global pandemic. A lot of the time, we find ourselves second-guessing what is appropriate to share as there is no how-to social media manual for this. Over the past few months, as we have adjusted to our new normal, we at BOCA have uncovered a few steps that have been helpful for us and our clients that we thought would be good to share. 

Prioritize compassion over sales

What we mean by this is absolutely do not “trendjack” COVID-19 in a social media post and have the call-to-action be a sales one. When discussing COVID-19 on social media, focus the messaging on how you are supporting your customers and your community during this time. 

Lean on social media data to uncover what your audience wants and when.

Use your monthly social media reports to see which content is most engaging for your audience. If COVID-19 content is not heavily engaged with, figure out the balance between providing your followers with what and also being cognizant of COVID-19 on your feeds.

It’s also important to note that with stay-at-home orders in place, people’s social media habits have completely changed. The best time to post on social media for your brand probably has drastically changed post-COVID. On LinkedIn for example, data from Sprout Social revealed that “the hours of regular weekday engagement now start and end a little later, with activity starting up at 8 a.m. rather than 7 a.m. and wrapping up around 4 p.m. rather than 3 p.m., as noted previously.”

Other interesting data from Sprout Social uncovered that “incoming messages to brands actually decreased by 19 messages per day averaged across all networks. No industries saw an increase in incoming messages comparing the first two weeks of April to Q1 2020.” This means that customers may not be mentioning or retweeting you as much.

Try something new.

In our new normal, the rules of social media have shifted quite a bit. This may mean that old messaging no longer resonates with your audience. Now is the time to try out new messaging or perhaps a new platform. Curious if your customers now have more time to be on Snapchat? Try it out. 

Uncertainty will remain.

Social media has always been a very “minute-to-minute” channel. However, this still afforded us some time to plan ahead, whether it be a new campaign or initiative. With COVID-19, we are not given the luxury of being able to plan very far into the future. This means you and your team should be prepared to pivot. The tweet you scheduled for Friday on the previous Monday may no longer be a good idea. Remain flexible and always keep your eye on the pulse of what is happening.

Provide a distraction when feasible. 

At the end of the day, our followers are looking for ways to be more social as they generally have more time on their hands. Social media can inform us, but it can also provide a reprieve from what is going on in the world. Provide your followers with informative content but also keep in mind your latest industry blog post or white paper can also serve as a much-needed distraction. And finally, remember, empathy is most important.

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