From a global pandemic to a national reckoning with racial inequity, 2020 has brought about one of the most challenging seasons for business owners everywhere. This year is marred by economic hardship, a deadly virus and police brutality. It’s natural to feel disconcerted as a business owner navigating these troubling times. In particular, you may feel uncertain about how to show up for your clients while remaining respectful and sensitive to the situation at hand. Managing social media through a difficult season can be overwhelming. However, every crisis presents opportunities. And for business owners, it becomes a chance to connect with one’s audience and guide them through a tough period.
If you want to engage and help your target market throughout a crisis, social media is arguably the best platform to push out strategic messaging designed to lift, encourage and support your followers. However, it’s not as simple as keeping your social media on auto-pilot with pre-scheduled content; crisis communication requires a calculated approach that infuses your online presence with compassion and grace.
When planning a social media strategy amidst a crisis of any kind, keep these tips close as you find the right balance of brand consistency and empathy.
Define Your Social Media and Business North Star to Navigate Managing Social Media through a Difficult Season
The challenges you’re facing will seem insurmountable unless you have a way to focus your energy around a cohesive message. Your “North Star” is simply a guiding idea based upon who you are and what you stand for. Who do you want to be when presenting your brand to the world? When faced with a difficult period, you need to have a filter to look through. Your North Star is a core concept that keeps your brand’s output consistent and authentic. Without this beacon, you risk diluting the foundation of your platform and failing to show your audience how you can help them.
Your North Star provides a starting point for the framework of an effective content strategy based on brand values, instead of whatever is on your mind at any given time. Define three to seven themes that fall under the umbrella of your North Star. Then, create your content around those themes, rotating through them to create variety while maintaining a focused message.
It helps to consider why you’re in business in the first place. You want to provide a solution to other peoples’ problems. It’s time to change your mindset from “woe is me” to “how can I help you?” When you step out of your own pain to be of service to someone else, it reminds you that your world is much bigger than your direct surroundings.
Serve, Then Sell to Create a Resilient Business
When you’re facing financial adversity, you might feel inclined to lay on the sales efforts to help bridge the gap. However, in times of crisis, overt sales content comes across as ill-timed and insensitive. You can (and should) still sell, but you first need to show up as a resource in your market. Start developing more content that nurtures your ideal client base and provides readers with free material for their benefit.
Once you’ve built the “Know, Like, Trust” factor with your audience, you can start to sell. Instead of being gung-ho to make a profit, you’re waiting for them to open the door before asking them to buy something. It’s a soft, empathetic approach to show your prospects that you care about their individual pain points, which goes a long way during hard times.
Don’t Be Silent When Managing Social Media Through a Difficult Season
When the world feels harsh, it’s tempting to drown out the glumness on your feed with uplifting content. While there is certainly merit to adding positivity to the conversation, it’s not an excuse to dismiss the current issues afflicting your followers. Ignoring COVID diminishes every person who has been personally impacted by the virus. Likewise, staying silent amidst the Black Lives Matter movement tells BIPOC followers their human rights are not worth disrupting an aesthetic.
Simply put, your social media feed shouldn’t be seen exclusively as a place for escaping the real issues at hand. Instead, create a plan in advance about how you will communicate with your audience. If you’re not able to relate current events in a way your followers will understand, your brand will seem out-of-touch. Instead, filter your perspective through your North Star to remain congruent with your brand. For example, it may make more sense to share inspiring survival stories and the silver lining stories that have risen out of the pandemic instead of talking about COVID death rates. In the same way, you don’t need to focus on police brutality to support BLM. Instead, you can acknowledge the beauty of Black culture and encourage followers to support Black entrepreneurs.
It’s hard to keep fighting when there is little positivity to keep morale high. You can show up to be that beacon of hope, but be cautious about leaning into ‘the bright side’ so much that you negate the real struggle.
Be Mindful of Pre-Scheduling
In better times, you might map out a month’s worth of content to automate your social media schedule. Yet, high-pressure situations often require you to shift your pre-scheduled posts to remain relevant and mindful of the circumstances. A common factor of crises is their unpredictable nature. You can’t predict the COVID trajectory or foresee the next racial injustice atrocity. But, you can plan compassion, celebration, and activism in advance. In the face of tragedy, these messages will always resonate.
Work positivity into your content calendar, but always leave room in your schedule for current events that are noteworthy and need to be acknowledged. You will still show up consistently and regularly while ensuring that your social media approach is agile and responsive to the legitimate threats faced by your community. This creates a plan in business for resiliency
People gravitate towards authenticity, especially during a difficult season. To embrace your brand values and present yourself genuinely, you need to know who you are and what you stand for in business and in life. Once you develop your North Star and identify your core themes, you’ll discover the filter from which to see and communicate through any hard situation, whether it’s COVID-19, the epidemic of police brutality in the U.S., the growing awareness of femicide in Turkey or any number of social injustices around the world.
To help you figure out what to say when managing social media through a difficult season, click here to download these free crisis social media templates.
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