Proactive Communications: Organic Social in a Crisis

What a year this week has been. Again.

I’ll start again as I did last week, where I acknowledge how stressful life is right now for brands and their teams.

As communicators, we aren’t just helping counsel and guide our brands, we’re also living through this ourselves. So take care of yourself. Talk to others about how you’re feeling. And if you need someone to talk to, I’m no expert, but please feel free to reach out to me. A bunch of you did last week, and I LOVED it.

I’m recommending a three step process to social media crisis strategy for COVID-19:
1) Triage, 2) Proactively Communicate, 3) Pivot & Rebuild.

Last week we talked about Triage (read that here!). Lots of great feedback on that. I’m glad it was helpful.

This week is all about that Proactive Communication. Next week is Pivot + Rebuild.

Now that most brands have worked through their triage strategy of pausing or reworking organic social and paid media posts (that may appear insensitive or are no longer relevant given current events), sent out emails to customers, and updated customer care and support policies and escalation procedures, the coming weeks are the time to shift into proactive mode. 

 For COVID-19, these include a handful of organic content strategies:

  1. Corporate Cleanliness
    Communicating the steps you are taking to clean and sanitize your corporate and customer-facing areas.

    This is an organic post (simple image or text post) that will go a long way to heading off incoming questions.

    Drive traffic to your website statement, which can be updated as things change. If you haven’t already, get that email out. You’re late, but it’s not too late. It’s important.
  1. Employee Support
    Create a post communicating how you are supporting your employees during this time.

    A simple image or text post sharing this information posted organically will go a long way to heading off incoming questions while communicating the company’s core values to your employees.

    This could also go into #1. And it’s organic. But be sure to tell your employees first!
  1. Customer Care/Have a Question
    Acknowledge your social media followers are unsure about the changing world and how your business will operate within it.

    Create a place for those questions to be asked and answered by your community management team and your community itself.

    Again, this is a simple organic image or copy post. Keep the post copy broad enough this can be a pinned post for a long time.
  1. CSR & Philanthropy
    If your company has a foundation or does annual giving to an organization that gives back to those impacted by COVID 19, consider ratcheting that support up now. Do good in the world! And support employee giving.

    If it’s appropriate, this philanthropy can be communicated with a simple image or text post, posted organically, and phrased in a way that’s meant to be supportive, not opportunistic.

    However, I will stress, it’s better to make the donation and not tell anyone than tell everyone how great you are and get called out for it. Don’t hold funds hostage. Don’t view this through the lens of PR. Just do good now, and the credit will come later.
  1. New Content Pillars and Organic Content
    Although the industry has really de-prioritized organic social in recent years, right now is organic social media’s time to shine.

    After posting cleanliness, employee support and CSR content, you can start to think about how to engage with your community through brand voice in a way that acknowledges the situation and then starts a conversation, offers tips or shares suggestions within brand voice.

    It’s better not to post anything if you have nothing to say. Nobody will miss you. However, if you have a real reason for saying things (self-care, at-home advice, resources, etc.), now could be a time to start adding value to your community with occasional posts that engage your followers.

    Spend some time strategizing new content pillars, with a handful of content series under each one. Get to work on them, see if there’s a good opportunity to post them proactively, and monitor your community’s engagement around them.

But you don’t have to post anything, just because you can post something

Have you missed any brands’ witty social posts? Have you missed brands being funny, trolling each other, or ads in your feeds selling stuff you don’t NEED right now? Probably not.

Do not forget that nobody is missing your brand in their social feeds in a crisis. Unless you have a reason to post something, it’s okay to pause and stay quiet.

Doing nothing at all is actually action in a crisis like this, and it’s okay.

Hang in there. You aren’t the only one trying to balance all the work crises with the family crises and haven’t gotten a chance to breathe. Give yourself a pass to process, get upset, love others, and get your own house in order.

And do reach out if you need to talk. We’re in this together. You’re not alone.

Hang in there!


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Information is Beautiful author on What Makes A Good Data Visualization

See how, interestingly, if you combine information & function & visual form without story, you get “boring”. Something that looks good but isn’t that interesting.

Similarly, if you combine visuals, information & story without considering functionality and your goal, you get something useless.

Source: What Makes A Good Data Visualization? — Information is Beautiful

Ben Dreyfuss on the social component of digital content

“But the top trafficked stories are never those. I mean, because of social media and the way it works, you can drag a horse to water and you can actually shove that horse’s face in that water and force it to drink. You can do a lot of things by getting very enticing headlines and things, but you can’t make that horse tell its other horse friends that the water is good unless that water is good.”

Source: Talking Shop With Social Media Wizard Ben Dreyfuss | | Observer

Perspective on the short-sightedness of content marketing in digital

Provocative headline to drive clicks, but there is truth here that everyday advertising agencies just DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

Simply put, content marketing doesn’t work because it needs two attributes to be successful, a long-term commitment and high-quality content. And both of these requirements have high demands in terms of time and effort. Because of this, they are often ignored in an attempt to make content marketing more scalable and easier to deploy.

But unlike SEO and PPC, you’re not dealing with an algorithm when it comes to content marketing. You’re dealing with the reactions and emotions of your living, breathing customers. And that can’t be gamed, hacked, or exploited. Instead, you need to plan and deploy a content marketing campaign with the same care and attention that you would any other major company initiative.

Once you know who they are you want to help them. You do this by solving their problems. So, instead of producing content that’s all about you and your company, you should produce content that answers questions and helps them solve the challenges they face. As I’ve stated many times before, no one wants to download your brochure.

This means you shouldn’t be killing yourself to produce new content every single day. But rather, you should focus on producing high-quality pieces. As long as you’re doing that consistently, then arbitrary cadences don’t matter as much.

Content Marketing Doesn’t Work – Forbes.

All content needs to be made interesting

All content needs to be made interesting. What you’re doing as a writer is introducing variable rewards into your story. Everything that engages us, all pieces of content are engineered to be interesting,” he said. “Movies aren’t real life, books aren’t real life, your article isn’t real life. It’s manufactured to pull us one sentence after another through mystery, through the unknown. It’s a slot machine. Your article is a slot machine. It has to be variable. So just because an experience introduces variability and mystery — that’s good!”

Slot machines perfected addictive gaming. Now, tech wants their tricks | The Verge.