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Navigating Social Media During a Time of Crisis

It’s 2020 and social media has become such an instrumental part of our businesses and in our personal lives that, for many of us, it’s how we’re connecting with our network when our schedules are jam-packed. Despite how deeply woven social media is in our fabric, a crisis can easily catch us off-guard due to the unpredictable nature of the circumstances. As business owners, we’re faced with the challenge of responding appropriately to the situation while continuing to meet the needs of our clients.

Thus, it’s essential to remain active on social media during trying times, including the current pandemic the world is facing on all levels. The idea is really to create a space filled with compassion and empathy for what your clients might be enduring — in other words, a virtual “safe haven” for them to retreat when other factors become too much.

With that said, you need to be on top of your messaging to ensure that you’re providing the support needed in times of crisis. Chances are your clients are worried about losing their jobs, canceling their events, caring for their loved ones, and so on. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re worried about those same things. Being able to create a space that communicates your presence and concern can go a long way for setting the tone of how it is to work with you.

Let’s touch on a few ways to build community and exude compassion through social media during crisis situations.

Start by auditing your social media.

Your very first response to a crisis should be to dig in and audit what you already have scheduled. Delete any posts that now seem insensitive or irrelevant to avoid coming across as tone-deaf. The truth of the matter is that we don’t always know what will happen the next day—or even the next hour—so we need to plan for our social media strategies to be fluid and adaptable to the changing situation.

Keep your posts in context.

Not every post has to be related to the crisis at hand; in fact, you should try to diversify to add some bright spots on your followers’ timeline. Throughout the current coronavirus pandemic, our newsfeed has been littered with virus-related content. It’s like a breath of fresh air when we see something unrelated, at least for a moment or two. So, don’t feel like you can’t post other content — you absolutely can; you just need to be mindful of how it presents itself.

Consider the copy, the imagery, and the captions of your content and what kind of message it sends. Currently, we should all be cognizant about sharing photos that violate social distancing norms. Swap out imagery of crowded spaces or children playing together; it’s a small gesture but it can act as a way for you to model good behavior and show that you care.

Promote the spread of facts.

Social media has plenty of benefits, but it also comes with the downside of channeling false and misleading information from less-than-reliable sources. In order to combat this, we need to be spreading the real, factual information from authoritative organizations. In the United States, this could be the CDC, the FDA, local public health officials, and other reputable groups. Don’t guess, look at their social media and news releases for verified updates and share that information to your feed. Even if you don’t have anything to share on your own end, you can always counteract fake news by spreading truth and knowledge.

Don’t feed the trolls.

Nowadays, social media is full of so-called “keyboard warriors” who criticize others for the sake of criticism. Getting these negative comments can be shocking and hurtful; take a moment to calm yourself down and consider whether a response is warranted. Come from a place of compassion and service first; it’s possible that you’ll see that you made a misstep and take the opportunity to make a heartfelt apology. People are far more likely to forgive if an apology seems genuine as opposed to a lawyer-written non-apology statement.

The resounding message that you should both embrace and spread is that crisis situations are temporary. This too shall pass and we will see our businesses through to the other side, just as we’ll see our clients’ events through. Although fear and panic may seem natural, it’s up to us as industry leaders to spread positivity and hope for a better tomorrow.

Christie Osborne

Owner | Mountainside Media

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that brings in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference.