Contributed by Hanisha Lalwani, MEPRA Youth Board Vice President and Marketing Manager at PageGroup Middle East & Africa

Not just brands, but employees too should be mindful of how they communicate in times of a global crisis

The onus is on each of us, not just personally, but professionally too, to exercise sensitivity while posting on social media in a time when businesses and individuals globally are experiencing the wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not just brands, but employees’ own social media platforms are having increasing impact and reach. Now more than ever, consumers are closely watching how brands are communicating to their consumers, clients and vendors across various platforms. Thus, as employees and advocates of the brands we work for, the microscope is on us as well. After all, it does not take time for an inappropriate personal post to go, for the lack of a better word, viral.

How we engage with the community online and offline during this unprecedented situation will be extremely critical. Our social media behavior now will influence the decision-making of key stakeholders when the crisis has passed. Understand that given our present situation, people are looking at online activity for content that will offer value to them. Thus, if you are going to post on social media, especially on a professional networking platform like LinkedIn, focus on sharing content that will resonate with your followers, else you will risk coming across as tone-deaf or sounding too cheerful at a time when things are risky, and businesses and bottomlines are being impacted. 

What you should be mindful of…

  • Be considerate and understanding, and anticipate what your social media audience may be experiencing, especially as many face changes in their professional situation including the immediate obligation to shift to remote working, adapting to new policies their organizations roll out, being anxious over possible lay-offs, and many other personal changes
  • Be conscious of your tone of voice, especially as your written/published posts will be subject to interpretation
  • Things are changing quickly, so keep up to date with the news and what is happening; what may have felt like a good message yesterday may not be the right or appropriate thing to share today
  • Fact check the information you are planning to post, particularly if it’s about how your business is reacting to the situation, the solutions you are offering to customers, and so on – be sure to verify everything
  • And remember, once you put something up on the internet, it stays there forever. Screenshots have enabled people to store/capture your posts for future reference. We’ve seen time and again in the past how old tweets have come back to haunt many influencers.

If you want to communicate with your stakeholders on social media, you could look at incorporating the below verbiage into your post:

  • Pleasantries (how are you / hope you are well and safe)
  • We’re still accessible/reachable via _____
  • We are taking our activities online…
  • We’re working closely with our team to support you…
  • We’re available to chat about your concerns anytime, please reach out to us at ……
  • We are adapting and reacting quickly to….
  • Sign off with phrases like ‘take care’ / ‘stay safe and healthy’
  • Thank you for your support
  • We understand…

Avoid using the below phrases in your posts:

  • “It’s business as usual”: Because really, it isn’t! No one wants to hear that now
  • “Don’t panic!”: Let’s not advise people how they should or should not react and fee as we don’t have visibility on their personal circumstances
  • “We are a global firm…”: Let’s stay humble and reflect that in our communication, as even the biggest global companies are being financially crippled by the pandemic

If you as an employee are still unsure about the appropriateness of your post, run it by your marketing or social media manager before you publish it online. The above is by no means an exhaustive resource of guidelines. You are more than welcome to share your best practices. Stay safe and let’s aim towards physical rather than social distancing!