Pause and breathe
I know it’s not specifically for social media, but the first thing we all need to do in a crisis is to take a moment to evaluate everything from an emotionally calm state, if possible.
Review all scheduled posts
Whether or not the crisis directly impacts you, you may want to stop your scheduled posts. Inspirational posts after the initial impact may be appropriate, but overly upbeat or overly positive posts may not be appropriate for your entire audience.
For instance, if you are dealing with a natural or unnatural disaster that affects a section of the country or a certain industry - and your business is not impacted at all - stay out of the conversation. In the case of devastating tragedy, that means halting all posts. Give the crisis and the casualties the respect they deserve, and cautiously return to your regular schedule when it makes sense.
Right now with the coronavirus pandemic, thoroughly review your social media content and see if it makes sense to pivot or edit your tone.
Use your social media platforms to stay in touch with your employees, as well as prospects, clients, and your community at large. Post news, announcements, and changes to how your business is functioning during the crisis.
Along with using your primary social media channels to communicate with your community, you may want to add new ones. For instance, start a new Facebook Group, Slack channel, or create virtual events for conversations specific to the crisis. A town-hall type interactive video may be just what your community needs, to share their feelings and know they are not alone.
Become a resource
Beyond being a conduit for information, your business can create new content for your audience that educates, informs, provides a source of relief and more. Explore new platforms and features, such as Instagram Stories, video, and live streams.
Not sure when and what to post? Take a cue from others in your industry or location. Watch how similar companies react to crises, and adopt strategies that make sense for your business.
Your business may be going through a rough time and you are not alone. Hold off on posting on social media until you know what to say and how to say it. There’s an opportunity in a crisis to step up to the plate and be a powerful leader in your community, industry and beyond.
Ignore what’s happening
When a crisis strikes, your company will want to address it head-on, although it may make sense to stay offline until the dust settles. Still, you don’t want to ignore or downplay a crisis, even if it doesn’t directly impact you. Approach your response via social media messaging with compassion. Keep a light yet respectful and informative tone, while being true to your brand.
If the crisis directly impacts your business, make sure you are accessible to your prospects and clients. Set “office hours” on Twitter, or live chats in your Facebook group, so people can ask you questions, knowing they will also get a response. You can set up a private group for similar conversations with your employees, resources, and partners.
Make things worse
Remember people’s emotions are running very high and you’ll need to be ultrasensitive and compassionate. Social media allows you to directly communicate with your community, especially when you can’t be together in person. But you want to remain professional and compassionate at all times.
When posting about or responding to a crisis, never:
- Make fun of it
- Profit from it
- Cause more problems
The best fail-safe is to set guidelines for what you will post on social media during times of crisis. Have someone on your team double-check every post before publishing on your channels. Also, be aware that the people who engage with your posts may not be in the best mood.
- If tempers flare, be ready to act quickly, take the conversation offline, and find necessary solutions.
When a crisis strikes, you may be able to make things better. And you definitely don’t want to make things worse. Take your time with your messaging, and be available to share news and information. Strive to be a voice of calm, integrity, courage and hope.
Ultimately, when things hopefully calm down and get back to some semblance of normalcy (even if it’s the ‘new normal’), your prospects, partners, and clients will remember how gracefully you got through the crisis.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned. All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
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