A webinar recap with audience Q&A.
On April 7th, 2020 we hosted the webinar How to Manage Social Media in a Crisis. You can watch the full webinar on-demand and view the slides here. As promised, we’re covering all the excellent questions you and your fellow markers asked in a blog post. Additionally, we decided to add a selection of audience success stories marketers shared in the live chat.
Andrew Boyarsky, industry and emergency management expert, President at Pinnacle Performance Management, and Clinical Associate Professor at NYU said that as marketers we must be aware of where we are in the cycle of a global crisis.
In times of crisis (more so than in ‘normal’ times), a key challenge is to reconcile the distinct dynamics and requirements of different time horizons – surviving in the now, while preparing for the medium-term, and transforming for longer-term growth in changing times.
Without further ado, here are the answers to the audience questions you asked during the webinar:
Questions on “How much communication is too much communication?”
Q: We have been engaging with our followers on social with posts directly related to our capabilities and activities related to the outbreak — my question is: How much is too much response to the outbreak? And how and when should we be posting our “regular” posts?
A: We’re well into the acute pandemic phase where many brands have taken multiple first steps to update websites, pause or review immediate content plans, and sent regular emails to their audience base. As we sit at home, we all have a digital routine of where we go for information and how often. People are craving a distraction, positive stories, and the light at the end of the tunnel even if uncertain when that will come. 70:30 is the ratio of regular-to-COVID-19 content on your feeds and Stories. That should ideally be paired with a visible notice on your homepage containing ticker-style key information that allows you to bulk-up your COVID-19 updates (the 70% that contains even small updates) without overpopulating your feed (the 30% for large and super important updates).
Q: Is it valuable to communicate repeated messages? It seems like every single company has come out with a “we care about the health in these uncertain times/doing what we can” message. Is it necessary to release one or is it just noise to a consumer?
A: It’s not noise, you’d be surprised how many people want to hear from you. My local florist emailed me and while yes, in regular times I’d delete (if not looking for flowers at the moment), I read the entire email and genuinely cared. Find a way to differentiate yourself from the others: is there a discounted or free service you can offer? How are you helping the community? But you do not need to be a “caregiver” and offer minute-by-minute updates on COVID-19 if that is too much.
Q: What do you suggest for post-COVID messaging? How do you reengage your brand with your clients/prospects as you move your messaging from war or disaster to post times?
A: Read up on consumer behavior studies as that will help you read your audience. Or be direct. I never shy away from asking the audience what they want to hear. Run a few polls with options. Turn the cards around ask your co-Social Media Managers what they want to see on your social channels post-crisis. Some of the most successful campaigns are based around human emotion like Convicts “NY Tough” (not post-pandemic but this is the type of content I mean). Work on a campaign that shows the selfless good you did when times were tough. Shift visuals and campaigns from indoor to outdoor as people will be tired of their living rooms.
Q: How do we manage service messaging on social? A delay to service times can cost customers money which leads customers to become irate about lengthy call wait times. Any advice on managing this via proactive messages on social? Other than the obvious please bear with us, FAQs on the website.
A: The obvious FAQ is however a really good way to start though. If your infrastructure supports it, move it to the front of the website, and avoid people having to dig it up deep in the backend. Otherwise, be human about the lengthier wait times, it’s unavoidable. What I’d love to see from some of the vendors I tried to reach (e.g. Target, US Department of Labour) are videos: IGTV videos or FB/IG live even if lengthier but with answers to those common questions. People are surprisingly receptive to longer but relevant content now. Videos are a great way to prolong the message on-demand and show a human face it’ll be difficult to stay mad at when on the phone for an hour.
When to say what and where? And how?
Q: More and more brands are going live now. Is this the time to try new digital and social media strategies?
A: Yes. It’s kind of like with the DIY haircuts a lot of us are forced to try out. If it fails, it’ll be forgiven on account of the times. Test it out but only if it makes sense to you. Going live on FB or IG has many advantages and thoroughly prepared content with interesting co-hosts will live past the live and potentially build up your on-demand library. Do a whiteboard brainstorm session and think 10 steps forward and 10 back before you go live.
Q: For B2B, when is the right time to “sell” on social media? Editorial calendars are somewhat on hold now. When to re-ignite sales pitch type content?
A: Not yet. People aren’t ready and I know that’s not what you want to hear as you have a business to run. Unless you find ways to do good now and turn crisis-time CSR into ongoing purpose and brand engagement across the entire value chain. Packaged in the right, selfless and non-transaction way your audience will forgive the somewhat sales-y CTA behind it. I always say when you educate, entertain, and make people feel good they will find that “BUY” or “BOOK NOW” button your website on their own.
Q: For B2B businesses: what channels are now streaming the best? I have the perception that people are not as connected as before and are only connected on other channels just for entertainment, like Instagram. It has been hard to track where my audience is over the last 2 weeks. What is the current audience behavior on social media?
A: Step one, work with your social media management tool like Falcon. Really not going for a shameless plug but our Martech stack has measurement capabilities to show you audience engagement. If you don’t have a tool in your arsenal, then take matters into your own hands. Ask the audience on various channels what content and where they want to see them. You don’t have to have all the answers yourself. Run a poll. But yes, people are on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter the most currently. Since we all have plenty of time, consider going live or recording an interesting IGTV video.
Q: How can we increase employee advocacy on social?
A: Falcon.io started a “Falconeers WFH” series on Instagram when we first took to our houses. Whether you can do something similar depends on how playful your tone of voice and industry is. Reach out to random departments and hear what they’re struggling with right now, especially Sales and CX. Work on timely content that will be beneficial to them right now and they’ll likely share. This webinar is a great example, almost everyone at Falcon shared it.
And finally, a few industry-specific questions on how to manage social media in a crisis
Q: Do you have specific strategy recommendations for non-profits during this time?
A: Many companies, including us, are offering free products or services to help Government Health organizations, UN health agencies, and NGOs doing great frontline work. Social Media Managers are the source of truth for many of us at home. Share how you’re caring for the community and use relevant calls to action, stay connected with supporters and volunteers. A great example of this execution can be seen here from the American Diabetes Association. Springtime is heavy on fundraising events that are now canceled. Create both simple and advanced Facebook Live + Group engagement strategies to transition events from physical to virtual. Recommended alternatives are virtual parties, recruit volunteers in suit & tie to deliver meals to local ticket holders, live stream your virtual auction, appreciate more often, etc.
Q: As a travel destination marketer, do you think it is necessary to have a pinned post on social highlighting the current COVID situation when it is already listed in detail on your home web page?
A: Pinning a standard message that guides people to your homepage via your socials is necessary. First off, it allows you to continue (or restart) posting industry-relevant content on your feed because you’ve covered your COVID-19 base elsewhere. You don’t know which path your audience (or new audiences) are taking when they see you for the first time. It likely isn’t your website in all cases. You don’t want to seem insensitive by posting travel content and have no acknowledgment of the tough times. Pinning one message with “find more information on our website” has you covered while providing to those of us who want to see back-to-normal (even if daydreaming) travel content on social.
Q: As a realtor, we have not been asked to stop doing showings by our Real Estate board & people who want to see homes, expect you to show them, considering that we are not legally stopped. We don’t really want to show, but if we don’t, we are losing business to ones who will. What would you recommend right now, regarding marketing & how to handle this dilemma?
A: We’ve all had to improvise. Communicate to your audience that you’re open to virtual showings. See whether your clients are open to this Plan B where you can do a video call from the house or since you’ll likely have multiple clients to show the same house to record a long (and slow) narrated video you can share with each. Following that, you could even reverse the roles and have them go into the house themselves and video call you. I know it’s all about networking and word of mouth in your industry so if you sell a house through such an unconventional showing method ask the owners to record a testimonial video highlighting the experience and how going virtual was different but not impossible.
Sharing is caring. Here are some of the posts you’ve shared during the COVID-19 crisis.
I want to share with everyone what we have been doing to face the crisis: https://roletoplay.novasbe.pt/ Along with a lot of buzz around it on social media. I would love to know what initiatives everyone is doing!
Greetings to all, here are my views on how to manage the crisis: http://www.coloniacommunication.se/en/be-firmly-rooted-in-your-values/
At National Business Capital & Services, we’re working closely with the SBA lenders to get the real facts as soon as possible to help business owners across the country get everything they need to know about the SBA Care Loan! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WB2TXSclyc
For non-profits and fundraising groups: eventgroovefundraising.com lets you host online fundraisers for free!
Here’s more on the current consumer thinking in Germany: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-germany-economy-gfk/coronavirus-batters-german-consumer-morale-gfk-idUKKBN21D0P9
Here are the tips we’re sending out to our clients right now: https://signalfire.us/blog/social-media-during-covid/