How To Communicate Under COVID-19

Amid COVID-19 fears, advice on how to communicate on social media and elsewhere

Fears about the coronavirus are rising, with individuals increasingly under quarantine and more businesses forced to close. In this chaotic environment, you may be struggling with how to communicate about your business and brand beyond the “we’re still here and working” messages flooding our inboxes.

I recently read a Twitter post that offered excellent guidance. Post authors Alex Josephson and Eimear Lambe offered a strong word of caution to brands: COVID-19 is not a ‘marketing opportunity.’

While their post doesn’t exactly forbid brands from discussing the outbreak (after all, there’s reportedly a new tweet on the health scare every 45 milliseconds), it does strongly discourage brands from appearing as opportunistic.

As most brands already know, appearing exploitative of serious events normally ends in disaster. But, you may be asking, what should brands be doing to appropriately tweet, advertise or otherwise market to customers during times like these?

Fortunately, Twitter has offered a few pointers:

  • Know your brand. Now more than ever, it’s important to understand what your brand can offer to people. Instead of just copying others, Twitter recommends “looking for opportunities to lead by example, and do the right thing,” provided it makes sense for your business.
  • Be ‘in the know’ on current events. What might have been appropriate yesterday might not be appropriate today. Keep an ear to the ground on the latest news, and be aware that saying nothing at all may sometimes be the best course of action.
  • Be thoughtful in your tone. Empathy and understanding are crucial to avoid inappropriate advertising. Your business should also avoid promoting close contact, since that could appear insensitive to viewers.
  • Anticipate changes in your customer’s behavior. With the call for people to stay home and self-isolate, there could be a shift in how customers interact with your business. E-commerce is also expected to increase, so make sure your business is equipped to handle changes in demand if you’re retail.
  • Understand what people may need. In times of need, it pays to listen and understand to customer and employee concerns. If your business is impacted by COVID-19, Twitter recommends using social media as a direct method of customer support and guidance. Also, with the constant flood of news on the pandemic, a bit of light entertainment or distraction can go a long way. Just be mindful when you contribute!
  • Avoid promoted content that directly refers to COVID-19. Twitter explicitly states in its blog post that it prohibits all promoted content that refers to the virus, as well as targeted ads using the keywords directly related to the virus. By following these rules, brands can help ensure that relevant PSA’s from authorities and reliable health organizations can reach a wide audience.

At Advantage Marketing, we’re helping clients communicate and reassure their customers as well as share accurate information during this crisis. Please do not hesitate to contact me at LKasprzak@advantage-marketing.com or 908.233.6265 if you need help.

Stay healthy and safe,
Loraine