How to Use Social Media the ‘Right Way’ During the COVID-19 Crisis
Social media is both a blessing and a curse during the COVID-19 public health crisis—either easing fears or spreading misinformation. During a time when people from around the world are not able to do many things that were once taken for granted, like dining at a restaurant, taking a trip to the mall or heading to the gym for a workout—social media usage is through the roof. People are seeking answers, reassurance and an escape from social isolation.
Social media is one of the most common ways people are communicating and receiving updates about COVID-19. There are now 3.484 billion worldwide social media users. This equates to 45% of the world’s population being on social media—consuming and sharing information about the coronavirus. The fast-moving nature of social platforms combined with the ease of retweeting and sharing means that social media etiquette matters during times of uncertainty.
Etiquette, which is loosely defined as the conventional, unwritten practices followed by members of a certain behavior or activity, now applies to the virtual world. Rather than freely posting anything and everything onto sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube, now more than ever there’s an unspoken “code of conduct” driving interactions and posts on social sites. That means being extremely cautious or avoiding humor when referencing COVID-19, making sure posts are in line with your overall business strategy and only sharing information from a credible source.
Social Media Etiquette Tips
The coronavirus pandemic is one of the most talked about topics on the Internet right now. Don’t know what to say on your social accounts during this outbreak? Let’s take a closer look at how to use social media platforms the “right way” during national and global emergencies:
Facebook – Before you create a Facebook post, stop and consider the content, especially as the world combats the coronavirus pandemic. Imagine your post appears next to a serious update about the coronavirus. Is it missing the mark? Does it appear to lack sympathy and compassion? Proactively share the type of information that Facebook users are seeking, such as updates about how you are keeping employees and customers safe, changes in business operations, as well as special promotions or discounts. Give additional sensitivity and care to your posts.
As many flock to social media to bide time while quarantining, remember to update your free business page on Facebook to provide periodic updates that will keep your audience informed, building lasting relationships from a safe distance. If they can’t find you on social, they’re less likely to trust you’re still open for business—even if that means placing an online order.
Keep in mind, Facebook is taking steps to stop misinformation to keep users safe and facilitate access to global health experts, local governments, businesses and communities.
Twitter – This brief message communication tool enables users to send out messages (tweets) up to 280 characters long to followers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes are on your tweets, which can include a link to any web content, photograph or video.
Users are turning to Twitter for anything from the latest news to updates about business and school closures and ways to support local businesses and nonprofits. Retain customers during COVID-19 by showing how you are supporting your community and customers, even if it doesn’t include your product or services—don’t leverage your customers’ vulnerability. You’ll retain more customers by tweeting “good news” and helpful information.
Now what’s the deal with retweeting or “RT”, as it’s recognized by many? The idea of retweeting comes with a two-pronged etiquette custom.
- One: Understand that not every tweet is RT-able.
- Two: If someone does RT you—it is polite to thank them for sharing your ideas.
In addition, explore and use relevant hashtags to join and contribute to important conversations. Tweet about what people care about now. And always think about when and how many hashtags to use. Although hashtags are a great way to give your social media messaging higher visibility and greater reach, use them sparingly so you don’t detract from your key messaging. Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per tweet. Use a site like Hashtagify to identify trending hashtags so you can join the conversation.
LinkedIn – This social media platform differs from Facebook and Twitter, in that it’s a professional based site first and used for social reasons, second. The world of work has changed in the past month and businesses are negotiating new challenges, such as how to adapt and manage remote work.
As a professional site, share tips that will resonate with the audience—advice for working from home, crisis management advice and suggestions for supporting employees. Network with customers or brainstorm with competitors to set your business up for success when recovery comes. Or try using LinkedIn Live to share updates.
Instagram – A photo and video-sharing social networking site, this platform, which is known for sharing photos is being used by businesses to share messages of support and provide updates about business operations during COVID-19. Instagram’s newest feature, Co-watching, is a way for people to connect via video chat in a broader effort to support users and their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Other features include the ability to create story filters, donation stickers and creator profiles (similar to business profiles). Like Facebook, using this medium for your business page has different rules and objectives than for your personal page. Be sure to post photos that are high quality and selected with your target audience in mind. Be extra cautious about using humor during the coronavirus outbreak. This also is a good platform to use video, but make sure the quality is good and the audio is crystal clear.
YouTube – Video marketing not only has been proven to generate traffic from search engines and video sites, but also social media sites. Enter YouTube! Users view more than one billion hours of video each day on YouTube and that number has soared during the coronavirus outbreak. This platform is a good way to share useful videos and business tips.
When using it for your business, like the others, only post content that will be of interest to your target audiences. Start a video series and share your expertise if you are finding yourself with a little extra time. It is sure to gain traction as users are flocking to social media as an escape while quarantining. Video blogs (vlogs) and other types of video that provide credible information and position you or your executives as thought leaders are good places to start.
Social media is an essential tool for communicating with your audience, especially during a public health crisis like COVID-19. It’s poised for continued growth and when recovery comes, people will continue to spend time on these platforms.
When you are active on social media through a campaign you implement or a reactive comment, your brand will gain traction. Therefore, be sure you’re proactive and on your best behavior when engaging on social media, so you avoid faux pas. This also will ensure that your visitors feel important and heard—which in turn will continue to build loyalty to your brand.
Do you have a question regarding how your brand can ensure you’re practicing social media etiquette during a public health crisis? Contact us today, to get the conversation started.