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Social media connects people, especially during times of crisis. It’s a critical tool for communities to find and share information and communicate with one another. When we are forced to disconnect physically, social connections become that much more important.

But for brands, especially small businesses and start-ups handling social media themselves, this can be tricky. If you’re managing your brand’s social media channels, you might feel a bit overwhelmed right now. It can be difficult to know how to act. Should you pause all posts? Share news unrelated to your brand? Carry on as usual?

Here are 5 things you can do now to ensure that your brand communicates well throughout this crisis and comes out on the other side with stronger relationships.

Social Media Tip #1  Do your research

Before you share an article or information from any third party, do your research. Even if the content mentions a credible source like the CDC, check that source first to make sure it’s correct. The last thing you want to do is spread inaccurate information.

Social Media Tip #2  Choose your words wisely

Give careful consideration to the words you chose. Those of us who schedule social posts in advance need to check in to be sure we’re not using language that might be considered inappropriate or insensitive. Don’t use words that are being used to describe the pandemic (like ‘viral’ or ‘contagious’). Put your content in perspective. Let readers know that while you’re sharing an article with ‘critical’ tips, you realize there are more important considerations right now. If you’re sharing content that’s lighthearted and fun, let your audience know you’re sharing it to provide a bit of levity. You get the idea.

Social Media Tip # 3  Be authentic

You may here this a lot and wonder if it’s a good tip, or just an industry buzzword. The truth is that authenticity – being human and vulnerable – is important to people. That means owning up to mistakes, being honest about your own emotions, and apologizing when necessary. The caveat is that we have to be cautious in how much we share. If you’re feeling anxious, it’s okay to admit that, but don’t focus on it. Be empathetic and understanding.

Social Media Tip #4  Ramp up your listening

Increase your social listening (we use Sprout Social) to help you gain a better understanding of where your audience is right now (Are they feeling nervous, prepared, unsure, confused, helpless?) and what they need from you (Do they want uplifting stories? Clear, timely information? Humor or empathy?). This way you can  create and curate the right type of content and update your messaging accordingly.

Social Media Tip #5  Double up on review time

You should start and end your day by reviewing all of your scheduled posts across all profiles and platforms. That’s because social posts aren’t only scheduled within working hours. Right now, things are evolving so quickly, it can be difficult to keep up much less have time to process. If you schedule a post for the morning that provides store hours, those hours might change – or the store might close – by morning.

One thing we know for sure is that we are all in uncharted territory right now. Figuring out how to navigate through this pandemic will take thoughtful processes and a great deal of empathy, compassion, and care. Take the time to listen more, pause to think about how you’ll respond as a brand, and then craft thoughtful responses that will resonate with your audience. More importantly, stay safe and be well!

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