What should brands do on social media in a time of uncertainty?

A two-part step-by-step guide to help brands everywhere navigate our changing climate

This is a scary and uncertain time. Brands want to be there for their fans and followers, whether to provide important information, tips, relatable humor or even just a bit of companionship. Social media offers us the ability to do all of this and more if used effectively.

What to do with content calendars/pre-planned content:

Step 1. If you are uncertain of what to continue to post at this moment, it is ok to stop posting and regroup. Your fans will be ok if they do not hear from you for a day or two.

Step 2. It is important to review all your brand content calendars with a new lens to see if there is upcoming content that may not be appropriate. At this time, you do not want to have content that shows people in close proximity or sharing food/drinks, any reference to March Madness, Opening Day or spring break, or any CTAs that reference in-store purchasing.

Step 3. Consider developing new content or using past top-performing content or UGC to replace the above posts, or simply post less for a week or two while regrouping and developing new content.

New content specific to COVID-19 or ongoing content toned for COVID-19:

Service providers and retailers
Pivot your content to communicate changes your customers need to know about (e.g., restricted service hours, changes in service, alternate paths to service/online) and develop a simple template (e.g., brand logo) to accompany these content posts so consumers get used to recognizing this type of content as a service message.

CPG and other consumer-facing brands
It is about striking the right chord and tone in social at this time, i.e., nothing too over-the-top or overly indulgent and nothing too snarky. You can still have brand personality in your content, but it needs to be at a 6, not a 10. People are home and on social, so don’t be afraid to publish content as long as the tone is right.

All brands
Listen, learn and pivot as needed. Use social listening like Meltwater or Simply Social to understand how people are talking about COVID-19, how people are talking about consumer goods or services, and how people are talking about your brand in social media, and use these findings to help guide your path.

Always keep in mind that as brands in social, we should act like people. People aren’t perfect but they are real and transparent and relevant, so if you take nothing else away, remember to act like a person, to be a straight shooter and that we are all in this together.