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Social Media and Crisis Recovery: What You Need to Know for Effective Messaging

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disaster like no other we’ve seen in our lifetime. Many crisis situations run a finite period of time and move into recovery within a matter of weeks, but this pandemic has no certain end in sight. It’s been months-long at this point and we are collectively unsure of when (and how) recovery will take place. The nature of the virus also means it isn’t restrained by geographical boundaries; it is truly a worldwide health crisis.

Although we’re all impacted by COVID-19, our experiences are fragmented—we’re all feeling different effects of the virus and the way we respond to external messaging depends on our unique situations. For event professionals, we’re stuck in a strange sort of limbo: we want to start selling again and set ourselves up for recovery, but there are still so many uncertainties to navigate. This leaves a lot of confusion across the industry about planning for next steps.

Yet, if we don’t plan for recovery early, we can end up scrambling to rebuild when economies start to open again. Here are a few tips for creating social media content that supports your goals while remaining sensitive to the situation at hand.

Acknowledge the situation

When there is a crisis that is affecting those in your target market, you must be prepared to use your voice to acknowledge it. This goes for everything from COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter to destructive hurricanes and the spread of wildfires. If your brand stays silent during a crisis but continues to post other content, it will come across as tone-deaf and insensitive.

That’s not to say you can’t continue selling and posting pretty pictures. You just need to be sure to contextualize it and recognize the impacts of the current situation.  A great way to bridge the gap is by providing useful content, like updates on local COVID-19 guidelines, and including a simple call-to-action at the end.

Be flexible to change

During a crisis, things change fast. What was said an hour ago may not be accurate anymore and tomorrow may bring a slew of updates. As a leader in your community, you need to be prepared to adapt your messaging based on the latest news.

Monitor the appropriate channels, including local, state, and national agencies that have authority over the situation; then, update information across your channels accordingly. Keep an eye on your inbox and DMs as well, as you may receive questions from followers that prompt an update to your FAQs.

Mind your brand

As you navigate the situation and learn more about what’s happening, remember to keep your brand top-of-mind as you provide information to your online audiences. You can still be helpful and valuable to the conversation while staying true to your brand values. If you’re known as a no-nonsense, get-it-done type of person, lean on that and report on accurate information that is useful to your clients. On the other hand, if your brand is fun and cheeky, feel free to share relevant but light-hearted TikTok videos on your Instagram Stories.

Of course, minding your brand does not excuse you from keeping an active voice on social media. You cannot hide from crises, disasters, and other events of national significance because it “doesn’t fit in” with your aesthetic. Minding your brand means keeping the current situation in mind as you curate content that benefits your current and potential clients, showing them the values you hold close and what it’s like to work with you.

Set up Facebook Pixel

The Facebook Pixel is a small piece of code that you (or your web developer) can install on your website in order to retarget past visitors with “down-funnel” ads. This is a simple but powerful strategy, as those who have already visited your website are already aware of your brand and likely have an interest in booking an event.

In crisis situations, the Pixel is especially valuable as it lasts for a full year. Thus, you can plan an ad campaign that retargets website visitors for up to a year after they see your website. When the economy reopens in your region, you can deliver book-now ads to those who were checking out your content even before the pandemic. For the DIYers reading this, there are plenty of videos on YouTube to guide you through the Pixel installation.

Every crisis has an end, even if we can’t predict when it will come. Until then, the best we can do for ourselves, our businesses, and our audiences is to continue churning valuable content that helps to keep spirits up and move through the situation one day at a time. 


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.