In this age of constant connection via social media and the entire world having more access to information than ever before, business leaders should be asking, “how much information is too much?”
These are unprecedented times. With the newly implemented lifestyle of social distancing, our ability to connect digitally is easily becoming the world’s most popular path to communicating and sharing experiences. People all over the planet are able to peek into the daily lives of strangers from countries outside of their own and see what challenges they face in the wake of this pandemic. That same audience is also watching closely to how companies respond in the face of adversity.
Social media can prove to be extremely powerful in times of personal disconnect and uncertainty, but there is also the threat of spreading misinformation like wildfire. Khudejah Ali and associates suggested in a 2019 University of Miami research paper that “a moderate level of fear-arousing sensationalism” can boost the engagement and respect for educational and awareness materials – but we must also consider how fear-arousing messages can lead to unwarranted panic and irrational behavior.
The burden of business leaders and content creators to share thought provoking yet responsible and ethical material is deepened now that major social media gatekeepers are being sent home. It was reported on March 18th 2020 that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube had all sent their content moderators home, leaving all content on these platforms to be moderated by the platforms’ built-in spam bots. Now, more than ever, it’s in each of our hands to share the right information effectively and carefully.
Here are some examples of how to teach your teams and content creators to curb the hysteria but share relevant information.
Speak to consumers’ concerns but do not feed fears
Although the heart of marketing is being able to speak directly to a potential customer’s pain point, you should avoid fear mongering. As health officials like the CDC and the WHO work hard to keep everyone informed but calmed you won’t win any favors trying to drum up impressions and engagements by inspiring panic. This opens you up to criticism and could damage your company’s reputation. Instead, address fact-based concerns and the ways in which your service or product can help during this crisis.
Triple-check your facts before posting updates
It may seem like a no-brainer to post or repost the closure of community venues, spaces or businesses, but ensure that you are double- and triple-checking the validity of these updates. One of the major reasons that officials in the Western hemisphere waited so long to start “closing down” communities is that they didn’t want to incentivize panic responses. Naturally, when the public starts hearing of closures of spaces that have weathered the worst crises in their lifetimes, it prompts insecurity. Your main goal as thought leaders is to keep the public calm but accurately informed.
Curate your language
Falling hand in hand with previous the tip, how you communicate reports of closures, updates and the like are equally important. Ensure that you are using language that inspires positive feelings instead of words that have negative connotations. An example might be using the phrase, “in an abundance of caution” as opposed to “out of concern.” Those two phrases ultimately are communicating the same idea but emotionally they speak to very different emotions.
Use social media engagement to help your audience feel more assured
A big positive of everyone being hyper-connected at this time is that your audience is more accessible than ever before! Use this time to start deepening your relationships with consumers and building brand loyalty through community engagement. This is also a great time to answer relevant questions that your audience may be facilitating through digital spaces. For instance, if your business offers delivery consumers may want to know if you have a “no contact” contingency plan. Customers may also want to know what protocols you’re instating to ensure that health and safety codes are being followed to protect both customers and employees alike.
Most importantly you want to ensure that what you’re communicating serves a purpose. Just as any other marketing tool in your toolbelt, social media posts and conversations should exist to serve a purpose – be that informative, humorous or brand awareness. When you are communicating with a purpose it ensures that content is valuable, on-message and less likely to cross the line into oversharing information that is potentially disadvantageous to the public and your brand.
If you need help with your content and communications strategy, RedRover is here to help.