Friend or foe? Social media for businesses during COVID-19

Social media for businesses during COVID-19

I don’t know about you, but my home has never felt more like a castle. Perhaps not in terms of proportions, regal occupants, or attractive crenellations – but the portcullis is certainly up more than usual. And while I hope we’re all still smiling at the humans we might see passing by our windows, we need to be more wary of the house-guest we’re all cheerfully welcoming in: information.

As a quarter of the world’s population waits in varying degrees of lockdown, and many small to medium businesses anxiously close their shopfronts, the need to stay in touch with each other has never been so acute.

And never before have the tools to do that been so accessible – with digital and social media having the ability to reach out to people in near-hermetically sealed homes.

But in this age of misinformation, having trusted messaging remains critical to getting through the crisis together.

Look; WHO’s talking!

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is now arguably the world’s most important influencer.  But its influence isn’t entirely accidental either. The organisation have worked hard to understand the purposes of the channels they are using, and to speak their audience’s language.

The WHO’s motivation to be a prominent voice is clear: while the world suffers a pandemic, the online world is falling victim to an ‘infodemic’. Facts and statistics are soon paraphrased, misread and misinterpreted; truth becomes obscured by confirmation bias and conflicting agendas. This fosters anxiety, confusion, conspiracy theories, and – in the worst cases – racism and even death.

What this means for your business

Social media platforms thrive on information – whether it’s factual or not. Here are five ways businesses can use social media now to be a voice of truth, and battle misinformation.

  1. Build your reputation: For any business, especially during a time of confusion, integrity and authority are absolutely critical for getting messaging across. Businesses who put the groundwork into building their brand’s reputation through regular trusted communications are likely to retain audience trust during confusing times.
  2. Know how to use your channels: What flies on Twitter will sink on LinkedIn. Knowing how to use channels means understanding the different identities and audiences they have, and recognising what kind of content will work best for each.
  3. Be authentic: While the WHO is a dominant influencer, it is director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who is the visible super-star on Twitter. With more than 700K followers (and counting), ‘Dr. Tedros’ provides the human touch to the WHO’s social presence, and is a voice of intelligence, reason and humanity.
  4. Use only content of value: Communicating a lot is not the same thing as communicating well. Decide what your key objectives for any campaign are, and work out what content will be most valuable both to you and to your audience.
  5. Think local: If your business generally speaks to a local audience, use this to their (and your) advantage by gaining an insight into local concerns and behaviours, and providing the right, tailored information.

Finding solace in social

While misinformation might abound, there’s no reason to step back from social. Social media can and should be used as a force for good in times like these. People crave connection, and we are (comparatively) lucky to have such accessible platforms that can ease loneliness, and help people to be better prepared for the changing world we live in.

I hope this has been helpful as you plan social media content for which people will be only too happy to raise their digital portcullis. If you’d like some help creating social media content, find out how I can work with you here, and get in touch.

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