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Social Sensitivity Scale: COVID-19

author: Scott Covelli

Written by: Scott Covelli

Public Relations Supervisor

04.08.2020

  • Best Practices

How to post on social media about the coronavirus

It’s the most extreme change to our daily life since World War II, and naturally (and appropriately), everyone is talking about it. This unprecedented pandemic has affected all of our lives and all of our favorite brands. As professionals in the social media marketing industry, we face a dilemma in addressing the crisis. Do we stay silent and risk missing an opportunity to connect with our customers in a time of need? Or do we speak up and risk coming across as salesy, obtuse or even offensive?

Since this is our first installment in our Social Sensitivity Scale series in quite some time, here’s a quick refresher. It’s a scale we developed at EPIC Creative to show how careful we need to be about a certain topic on social media. It goes from 1 (go for it!) to 5 (don’t do it), and the COVID-19 crisis falls right in the middle, at a 3 on the scale.

Since this is such an all-encompassing topic, you simply can’t not talk about it. However, you should use discernment (as in any case) to ensure that you’re communicating accurate, appropriate information in a time of uncertainty.

Don’t Schedule Posts Too Far Out

One of the most alarming aspects of the COVID-19 crisis is how quickly things are changing and how often new information is coming out. Because of this, you must be extra diligent in ensuring that the information you’re putting out on social media is up to date. If you schedule a post about the virus for two days from now, no matter how appropriate it is, it could backfire if new information comes out in the meantime. Schedule posts sparingly at a time like this, and try to post “live” as much as you can.

Use the Proper Terminology

A name may be just a name, but words have power, and in a time of global medical crisis, now is especially the time to get it right. People have given the pandemic many names over the course of the last several months, but it’s worth your time to do your research, and know what you’re talking about. For example, did you know that the coronavirus is the virus and that COVID-19 is the disease? Make sure to get it right when you’re talking about it, especially as a brand. Politics aside, it’s not about being politically correct, it’s about being correct. Make sure you’re communicating accurate information, and that includes sharing articles and public health information too.

Communication Comes Before Marketing

This should be the case all the time, but especially in a crisis, make sure you’re focusing more on communicating with your customers and stakeholders than on selling to them. There will be time for selling, but this is a time to make a genuine connection with them. Find ways to serve your customers well in the midst of a crisis, and they’ll remember you when things get back to “normal.”

Instead of sending out that coupon or product video, how about a video from your CEO or a list of tips on how people can cope with the uncertainty of these times? If you’re providing real value (instead of noise) you’ll reap the real benefits. And you’ll be doing the right thing.

A Little Normalcy Goes A Long Way

It’s no secret that many Americans are struggling with the anxiety of this season, and they crave a sense of normalcy. Some TV channels are playing reruns of TV shows or Final Four games from last year, just to give people a sense of security and normalcy. It’s OK to lean into that! Share a fun throwback post or ask your fans how they’re spending their time. You’ll see that, in the right context, people just want things to be normal, even though we all know they’re not.

And speaking of “we all know”, if you are addressing the crisis, you don’t need to tee it up every time. You don’t need to start the post with “In the midst of COVID-19” or “In these unprecedented times.” We all know what season we’re in. Just get to the point.

Since these are uncharted waters, we’re all figuring this out while we’re in it. It’s like the saying about improv comedy: “It’s like putting the plane together when you’re already in the sky.” Use caution, check with your fans and industry partners, and above all, be real. People can smell a fake from a mile away these days.

Social media is a powerful tool that brings us all together. And we know that we certainly need plenty of that these days. Keep up the good work.

Work Hard and Be Nice to People

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