By Ezekiel Olande, Digital consultant

#COVID19, #coronavirus, #stayhome, #socialdistancing, #selfquarantine, #lockdown, #wuhan, #patient31, #flatenthecurve, #shutdown… these have become our new normal since the new decade begun! What began as an infectious disease out of Wuhan China, late last year, has become one of the greatest threat to civilization in recent times.

Social media is a buzz with all manner of information about the virus with Twitter reporting an average of one COVID-19 related Tweet every 45 milliseconds meaning we have over 1300 Tweets per minute talking about the virus! (I’ll pause to let you Google the Math)

It is clear from these numbers that businesses have to change how they interact with their customers via their company social media channels. We cannot continue with a business as usual attitude anymore as the whole world tries to figure out our new normal. Does this mean that you stop your operations and focus only on the coronavirus? Not quite. You have to do your best to keep the lights on during these uncertain times and no one will fault you for doing so.

What is clear though is that businesses will have to be innovative in how they operate during this season and more so how they engage on social media. We have already seen a number of businesses asking their employees to work from home or work in shifts save for the essential services and by essential we mean business critical staff only.

Social media has become the go to for stakeholder communication for many organizations as it is the one media that is guaranteed to reach the majority of your clients, staff, partners and suppliers. Globally, we have seen collaboration app developers like Google Hangouts, Slack and many others offering free meetings to encourage people to practice social distancing. Zoom is constantly churning blogs on how to effectively work from home and use their platform for meetings. Amazon through their e-books company Audible, is offering free access to their books to children of school going ages during this time. What uniqueness does your organization bring that can help your market plug into the new normal?

We are seeing more and more organizations opting to continue their operations online via various collaboration tools. More and more business meetings are taking place on Zoom, Skype, Hangouts and other social media and collaboration tools. Webinars have become the new norm as execs figure out that we do not have to travel or convene in one central place to hold business meetings.

What is important is to ensure the channels of communication stay open as much as is practical during these uncertain times. Let your stakeholders know how you are responding to the crisis and how the changes affect them. Do communicate your new operating schedules especially for client interacting aspects of your organizations. Share contacts of key personnel via your official channels to facilitate uninterrupted communication. I have seen organizations pinning these contacts and operating hours across their socials to ensure their clients do not miss them.

Communication with your employees is very important right now. They need to know what the leadership is doing in response to the pandemic, how the work environment is being affected and what their obligations are. This is where social media comes to play, as it is very easy to quickly send a WhatsApp text to all your staff. This is more effective at this time than email or phone calls. I believe that organizations that are involving their staff in finding creative solutions to these tough times are the organizations that will be stronger in the post coronavirus era.

People are taking to social media to learn new skills as more and more organizations in the online learning space such as Udemy and Coursera open up hitherto subscription based resources to the general public free of charge or at heavily discounted rates. No wonder the CBK Governor, Patrick Njoroge recently sent out a Tweet encouraging Kenyans to utilize this downtime to learn new skills online. He also asked Kenyans on Twitter to share such resources to allow others to learn from home.

How can your organization plug into this learning wave? Can your colleagues teach a skill to the public? We have seen a number of experts from various fields offer short courses on almost every transferable skill possible. Musicians are offering piano classes, artists are teaching how to paint, digital marketers are giving classes on setting up businesses on social media, finance experts are teaching on budgeting and investments, web developers are giving simple website building classes, chefs are teaching us how to cook gourmet meals…the list is endless! These kind of interactions not only endear your organization to your followers but also sets you up as subject matter experts. These interactions will bear dividends in the long term for your brand.

If you choose to be communicating COVID-19 pandemic updates to your stakeholders, make sure you are using your official social media accounts unless your company policy says otherwise. Go beyond the generic information that has already been overshared on social media. Make sure your sources are credible, avoid any unverified information, and always keep your ear to the ground to ensure your information is current.

Be part of bringing light to the grey season being experienced by all. Allow for distractions from the usual doom and gloom that is the coronavirus. Encourage your colleagues and followers to share videos of random fun activities that they are doing during this time! There are many fun challenges presently online that you can plug into just to keep you and your team sane!

You can try the #TylerPerryChallenge where you invite your colleagues to sing the chorus “He’s got the whole world in His hands” and share on Instagram or Facebook, or you can challenge them to do the push-up challenge and tag their colleagues, or simply go on Tik Tok and select a fun challenge for your colleagues.

In the end, we all know how powerful social media is and how effective it can be to your organization if harnessed properly! The key is to ensure sensitivity during this time and to constantly communicate, spread some cheer and avoid spreading myths and rumors!

 

Would you like to discuss your organization’s Social Media in this COVID-19 era? Drop us a mail on insights@alericonsulting.com and we will be in touch!

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