According to Natalie Pool, Head of Social at VMLY&R South Africa, content in the time of Corona is a minefield. 

Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to become anti-social. If anything, brands should be more social than ever before. But it’s how they do it, that counts. Don’t be flippant. Don’t be gimmicky. Don’t take advantage of the situation. And don’t let your scheduled posts and media run wild without a good sense check.

So what should you do?

No one has all the answers. I certainly don’t. But I do have some thoughts. Now is the time to shine. To truly help our followers and customers. To offer them real value. To foster meaningful relationships that will last beyond the lockdown. It’s about going back to basics. Remembering what our brands stand for and why we loved social media in the first place.

Social media connects people. It gives us unique insight into how they are feeling and what they are worried about. It enables us to help them from afar. Your brand may not be able to drive sales right now. And this presents a unique opportunity to do what some of us have always secretly wanted to do – simply engage. You have a captive audience, spending more time online than ever before, desperate for some good news and positivity. Put them first and speak to them with intent.

Refocus on community management

It’s never been more important. Scrap the automated responses. Beef up the team. Take time to refine FAQs and polish those escalation plans. Let no comment or question go unanswered. And answer them in a human, compassionate tone.  Prepare for the fact that your brand could face negative comments because of situations beyond your control and arm your team with responses that handle criticism with care. Use apps that understand that people are relying on their product for remote working more than ever before, with responses that are human and helpful.

Establish a virtual newsroom

Meet (remotely of course) every morning to update the team on developments, queries and social listening findings. Identify opportunities to create real value and support for customers. Some of these will be content opportunities. Some of them will be business innovations – think all of them through. For example, financial institutions announcing installment relief for SMEs and full-time students who had taken out loans, and they have continued to announce new measures on their social media platforms.

Embrace new content types and platforms

I haven’t even been at home for two weeks and I’ve already devoured all my favourite podcasts; I can’t get enough of watching musicians streaming free concerts from their living rooms, and I’m loving all the free meditation apps and educational courses people are sharing. The point is, it’s never been easier to create content from your couch and share it with the world.

Collaborate with influencers, ambassadors, experts and your community

Take a leaf out Pick n Pay’s playbook and collaborate with the people in your brand family to create content that matters. Twitter Q&As with company insiders, video tutorials with influencers, playlists for your fans, podcasts with experts … the possibilities are endless.

And if you are truly committed to putting customers first, why not give them the space to tell their stories? User-Generated Content (UGC) goes beyond sharing a pic someone tagged us in, it means letting them tell their stories.

In a time of self-distancing and isolation, you can ask fans to send in their own pics and stories, and the content will be emotive. It’s simple: showing your true values and purpose at a time when people most need to see them will earn you the trust and love that all brands strive for. Steer clear of being opportunistic and embrace the empathetic. Do the hard work now and set yourself up for success in the months ahead. People will remember the brands who did well when it mattered most.

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