How Marketing and Communication Can Help Businesses in the Age of Coronavirus
What is the role of social media in managing the crisis, caused by the pandemic, in business?
Until now, people in communication managed crises that focused mainly on the reputation, operation, leadership or employees of a company. But none of these types of crisis management is equivalent and comparable to the global crisis we are experiencing at this time. People and businesses are experiencing a constant uncertainty and it is proving that there are no proven, tried and true practices for dealing with the global pandemic.
Business planning, for the worst-case scenario and the ability to quickly adapt to whatever they may face, has become the “critical” issue, with social media playing an important role in the communication efforts of each organization.
Do businesses need a holistic communication plan at this time to cope with the difficulties? In what manner can social media support your organization during this difficult period? How should businesses tailor their content to social media? Should they stop or continue their advertising campaigns?
Communication crisis management or crisis management?
Before answering the above question, it is important to make a distinction between “communication crisis management” and “communication management IN A crisis”, as in the one we are experiencing with the coronavirus.
In the first case, the communication of a company aims to reverse the negative climate created by it, as a consequence of negative action or negative event.
In the second case, the communication of a company aims to manage negative situations which do not come from it, but significantly affect its operation and the behavior of its public. The current coronavirus pandemic is a good example.
Social Media Strategy – What to communicate
Certainly, we cannot continue to publish the same content. The needs of our people and customers have changed and each company has to adapt its operations and content of its communication while respecting their concerns. Below are some basic instructions that will help you customize your content.
- Start with your audience. Are they mainly wholesale customers? Retail? Students? Employees? Members of a local community? Think about these people and what their questions, concerns and needs are at this moment. Before uploading something you have prepared, ask the simple question: “Is this of interest to my audience right now?” Providing content that speaks directly to your audience is valuable and keeps you close to them.
- Inform your audience about the operations, plans and policies that your business is currently implementing, even if things change from hour to hour. Provide your audience with clear and detailed information such as service points, hours of operation, telephone support, new cleaning procedures and measures you have taken within your company to deal with the coronavirus and protect your employees.
- Show your social face. Share the way you have decided to support your customers but also the way your business contributes to the effort of tackling the pandemic, such as through donation of goods, social offerings, supplies, free shipping, new telephone support services, special product promotion packages, etc.
- Review your scheduled content or ad campaigns of the next few weeks. The type of your product or service, in combination with your audience, will determine whether your messages are considered relevant, as well as whether you will need to postpone, pause, or completely change your advertisements. In any case, the approach should focus on providing a solution and not taking advantage of consumer anxiety.
- Talk about positive things. People look for optimistic distractions and positive moments every day! Share content that will stimulate your audience’s mood. Give them ideas to better their daily lives and it will encourage optimism.
- Do not forget your basic values, the ones that characterize you as a company and differentiate you from the competition. Those values and their defense in times of crisis will help you make the right decisions, but also connect more with your audience.
Social Media Strategy – How to keep in touch with our audience
Many of the emotions that each of us is experiencing right now are the same as those being experienced by our audience. Now is the right time to focus on all those people who follow us and to keep our ties strong. Below are some ideas that can change the way you think and help you keep in touch with your audience.
• Serve directly and provide support to your audience’s needs through information and flexible methods of service on a case by case basis.
• Respond quickly to all messages and questions from the people who follow you.
• Encourage communication with your audience and inform them about how you can serve them via messages and telephone service. Keep them updated about possible extensions of the modes and hours of communication.
• Invite your audience to share their own content with you, ask them questions, organize “challenges” and provoke the interaction of your audience in various ways that fit your corporate identity.
• Take care of your audience as never before! Show the people who follow you that you care about and look out for them. Give them useful information, but also make them feel that you are by their side and ready to serve them.
It is true that in almost all industries, companies receive a high number of messages on social media. The quick response to all these messages and the care and support of your audience’s requests is currently a huge challenge, but also a huge opportunity to maintain a very good relationship with your audience.
Remember that your success is not just about how many followers or how many likes you have, but mostly about how well you connect with your audience!
Social Media Strategy – How we can use social media to make decisions?
Social media is a powerful source of ideas, inspiration and data that can help your business with new ideas, sales creation and even strategic discussions within your organization.
• Use social media to see how your audience, competitors and target market are reacting.
• Search for keywords or hashtags to follow topics related to your industry and to also find examples that will inspire you. Special tools can help you with your search.
• Fill in the information you will gather, in a report, and share it with the rest of your team.
• Generously share your ideas on how we can all get through this difficult period together, with your customers, partners, and employees.
Why does social media play an important role right now?
1. It’s fast. In a matter of minutes, a single message can go around the world.
2. It is direct. Recent surveys show that 86% of consumers believe that business transparency is more important now than ever. Social media is a direct channel with which to share your company’s position and values.
3. It is a powerful data source. Companies collect data from millions of messages. But from the statistics available on social media, they can evaluate and use them in real time to their advantage.
4. It is the first point of information. It is often the first place where people get informed about news and news in real-time. Social media, along with news sites, are the places where one gets informed about current events.
5. It is usually the first point of contact with your business. It is often the first place that an interested party comes into contact with your business to get to know you, your products and your services or your stores. Social media, along with your website, are the places where you can “introduce” yourself to the audience that does not know you, but also to maintain your relationship with the existing audience.
6. It is everywhere. Internet users worldwide spend, on average, 144 minutes a day on social media updates and the number of social media users worldwide is expected to exceed three billion in 2020.
Social media, at the moment, is undoubtedly a valuable tool for companies to convey the appropriate messages to their audience, especially for businesses whose operations have been suspended. But beyond the management of social media, what is very important is for your company to be able to build a “holistic communication plan”, with which you will effectively connect the actions that need to be taken within the company, with customers and partners, physical or online stores and to other groups of people that interest you.
With calmness, the right strategies, partners and tools, you will be ready to deal with critical times like these. With regard to the selection of the appropriate partners to whom you will assign your communication in this difficult situation, we owe it to say that special care is needed. In addition to managing social media, the professionals who will deal with your communication during this crisis need to have a holistic marketing approach, strategic thinking, marketing and communication knowledge, as well as experience in crisis management and social media.