Responsible engagement – Social considerations during Covid-19

By Sally Eggeling, Creative Studio Director

In our new hyper-connected world, social media is king and has provided society with multiple ways to connect with people 24/7, worldwide. Connecting people and brands for several years, social media has also provided companies with a strong platform to underpin, and champion, full marketing strategies.

As colleague TJ Jordan recently wrote, “social media has always been a medium that enhanced our global connectivity, the last few weeks have seen it elevated to the principal form of social contact available to isolated individuals and global companies alike. So how can organisations leverage the power of social to continue their work and communicate with stakeholders in these challenging times? (For further insights on broader social strategy during the pandemic, please read TJ’s blog )

The crux of engaging effectively with stakeholders however comes down to messaging. If messaging is not constantly considered and revaluated it can have huge impact on brand perception and company reputation, and no more so as when there is a crisis. As the coronavirus continues to affect countless people and communities around the world, companies need to consider their messaging and content carefully in order to protect their brands and mitigate the impact of potential risk.

Below we review some of the key areas of consideration when reviewing content and messaging, and highlight some quick questions which can be asked to help companies avoid some of the pitfalls:

Key principles for communication

  1. Maintain your brand voice
  2. Lean on relevant brand attributes and values to support your communications and provide an authentic voice
  3. Do’s
    • Be empathetic –Convey empathy regarding physical and mental challenges people are facing
    • Optimistic – champion hope without providing false promises
    • Be useful – Link in with the challenges people face WFH in terms of physical and mental health. Provide pragmatic ideas to help people cope.
    • Sense-check all content for insensitive or inappropriate wording
    • Avoid negative sentiment and overclaim.
  1. Don’ts
    • Include unsupported claims or seek to exploit public health emergencies.
    • Overpromise
    • Imply benefits in relation to the virus.
    • Talk directly about the Coronavirus or make a direct link to the disease (Google, Facebook and YouTube have started blocking adds for Coronavirus related content – other platforms may follow.
    • Automatically use hashtags : would the use of the hashtag look insensitive or unauthentic?

Questions for consideration

If the answer to any of the below questions is ‘yes’, the copy needs to be reviewed and adjusted accordingly:

  1. Could this be viewed as opportunistic?
  2. Do we refer directly to the virus?
  3. Are we overpromising any benefits?
  4. Have we implied any health benefits linking to the virus?
  5. Are we being too optimistic?
  6. Does the copy include any potential negative sentiment or overclaims?