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Social Media in a Time of Uncertainty

March 25, 2020 | Digital

More than fifty percent of Americans use social media to get their news. During times of uncertainty, social media is critical to your emergency communications plan.

When a crisis strikes, it can feel like there are communication needs pulling you in many directions all at once. For many marketers who are often already juggling multiple roles- public relations, writer, webmaster, liaison, community outreach, etc. – it can make things even harder. Learning how to address fast moving current events on social media, can not only help save valuable time, but also secure your community’s trust as a local source of information.

8 Must Dos for Managing Social Media during Crisis-Mode

  1. Revise and reschedule. As soon as you realize emergency communications are taking over, take a moment to review any content that is scheduled to be published in the next few days or weeks. Some content may feel tone deaf, come off as insensitive, or could make your organization look like it isn’t paying attention to current events. For example, don’t publish content about healthy eating at restaurants when most establishments have to close their doors during a pandemic. Revise it or, if necessary, reschedule all content not related to current events for a later date.
  2. Reprioritize ad dollars. After reviewing organic content, take another look at your social ads or boosted content. If the content or ad is unrelated to the current events or situation, repurpose those ad dollars to promote related services like urgent care clinics, extended hours or screenings. Extend the reach of important updates, like visitor restrictions, by boosting those posts.
  3. Embrace repetition. Even though all planned content may have been removed, your accounts should be constantly reminding people where to find the latest news updates, sharing hotlines numbers, and resharing prevention or safety information. If your organization has a dedicated webpage or news portal, share that link daily (or hourly) and encourage your users to frequently visit it for updated information. It can be the same piece of content with different, timely captions.
  4. Be an active part of the conversation. In times of uncertainty, community engagement is super important. Users want and expect to hear from you. Spend a few minutes each day responding to comments, answering messages, replying to mentions and, if permissions allow, thank users for sharing your information. Or, recruit the help of team members who can triage hotline phones calls. Arm them with the answers to commonly asked questions and important points of contacts, as well as direction to what and when a message should be escalated to a manager or department head. Monitoring the conversation can also give an organization valuable insight to how their community is doing. Are they asking questions that you haven’t answered yet? Which resources are they requesting more of?
  5. Take advantage of automations. If not already used, turn on Automatic Messaging on Facebook to direct users to a more direct line of communication like hotlines, patient advocates, FAQ pages and others. An example might look like: Thank you for reaching out to us. We are doing our best to respond to each message within [24/48/72 hours]. If you need immediate assistance, please call [hotline number or call center]. If this is an emergency, call 911. For the latest updates, follow our page & visit [URL]. Thank you for patience and support during this time.
  6. Go Live when you can. If your organization is hosting any town halls, press conferences or other announcements use social live features to stream the update directly to your users. If you have the date and time of these events in advance, create a post encouraging users to tune in.
  7. Don’t forget about event pages. If your organization has event pages on Facebook, make updates directly in those pages for users who have responded to it. You can also send a message to users who have responded when you cancel the event and Facebook will automatically notify them. Include information on possible rescheduling and who users can speak to if they have registration or refund questions.
  8. Cultivate, don’t sell. Times of uncertainty may not be the best time to tout about your hospital’s fancy new tech. Rather than pushing hard calls to action, focus on growing your audience. Your organization will be sharing important community information, take the opportunity to encourage users to subscribe to your channels, text updates, and email lists.

After the storm 

As things start to return to normal, gather your team and other departments to take a moment to learn from the experience.

  • What worked and what didn’t?
  • What was the sentiment of your audience during the emergency? Did it change for the better or worse? What could have led to that change?
  • Which resources received the most traffic? Which were the most valuable for the community?
  • What insights did the patient advocate, quality management, emergency management, communications teams learn?
  • Does the emergency plan need to be updated?
  • Is there anything new that should be incorporated into the social media plan?

Clear skies ahead

Nurses, ER departments, laboratory technicians and all healthcare providers and emergency responders work hard and for long hours during times of crisis. Take a moment to thank your organization’s teams on your social media channels. Share stories of excellence in times of stress or any special moments that made an impact on a patient’s experience. This will inspire the rest of the community to rally behind these dedicated professionals.

Communicate confidently with social media.

Want some support managing social media? Our experienced digital team is here to help manage channels through certain and uncertain times, using strategy, content and community management to make your organization’s channels a ‘must follow.’ Contact us

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