In a time of crisis, it’s important to have a plan in place to mitigate its impacts on your brand, especially on social media. Agencies around the world use social media to communicate messages and updates to the masses. Regardless of your industry, the same is true for your company and your brand.
Message performance on social media as a crisis unfolds can make or break a brand’s reputation. Here are some key do’s and don’ts to follow as your brand navigates communications during the crisis.
Know your audience. Crises affect everyone differently. It’s important to have a strong understanding of your audience to know how the crisis is impacting them and what they need from your brand.
Anticipate long-term impacts. Crises rarely follow a timetable. The long-term effects of a crisis for both the brand and the audience need to be evaluated to build a strong plan of communication.
Be flexible and ready to change. Information about the crisis can change in an instant. When crafting communications strategies, create multiple variations, including a worst-case scenario, and be ready to adapt to changing needs.
Monitor the evolving situation. The key to navigating a crisis is knowledge. Utilize Social Listening to keep up with conversations relevant to your industry and brand. Amp up your community management and platform moderation to respond to comments from those affected. Tune in to what your employees are saying and how they are adapting.
Review content thoroughly. Even the most seemingly innocent content can have negative connotations in the hypersensitive context of a crisis. Designate multiple people to review outgoing content to reduce the chances of releasing content that hits the wrong note. For official brand news that occurs during the crisis, provide curated content for your employees and stakeholders to share on social so that the chance of miscommunication is low.
Create content that will stand out. During times of crisis, social media feeds fill quickly with brands, agencies, and individuals sharing content frequently. To break through the channel noise, create content and utilize assets that create a slow scroll experience.
Get creative. The usual methods of conversation may be unavailable during a crisis situation. Utilize technologies to drive new ways of connecting with the audience, like live-streaming special events or hosting a Q&A in real time to answer questions.
Fact-check your messaging. News updates can come from various sources, both legitimate and fake. Ensure that updates and messages sent by the brand page come from a credible source known for being accurate and reliable.
Remain silent. Often, during a crisis, audiences want to know what their favorite brands are doing to rectify or address the issue. Communicate clearly in the brand’s voice about how the crisis is affecting the brand, employees and/or industry.
Go off-brand. Amidst chaotic times, content that feels familiar puts an audience most at ease. A time of crisis is not a recommended time to change brand voice, tone or messaging. It’s also a good idea to avoid snarky or sarcastic language in the brand’s messaging around the ongoing crisis. Not only can it feel unauthentic, it can also push the audience away from the brand.
Throw out the marketing plan. In the early part of the crisis, it can feel easiest to change everything. Instead, work to adapt to the changing circumstances as they unfold, building the brand’s reputation by reaching the audience where they are.
Leverage the crisis as a marketing opportunity. Avoid connecting the brand’s marketing communications to the ongoing crisis unless the two are directly related. Inauthentic connections are obvious to the audience and can lead to a loss of trust.
Get caught up in politics. Avoid jumping on one side or the other of the political arena in times of crisis. Focus on engaging the audience as a whole.
Forget real actions. During a crisis, audiences keep a close eye on the brands they frequent and take note of what brands are saying. If a brand’s messaging speaks to a specific action, it is imperative that the brand carries out that action to show that it can keep its word.
When a crisis strikes, audiences are looking for information they can trust, answers to their questions, a community to help them feel safe, and healthy distractions if the crisis feels too heavy. As a best practice, make sure that your brand messaging provides at least one of these solutions to offer your audience support.