By: Glaelis Sierra – Account Director at Williams Whittle

It has been at least two months of living a “new normal”. These are times of fast-changing news and it’s clear that what we’re facing is definitely “unprecedented”. The important thing is that “we’re all in this together” as marketers, colleagues, friends and family.

At this point you’ve probably had to shift strategies more than once. Marketing plans have been postponed and some have even been canceled and that’s okay. With stay-at-home orders still in effect for many states, we’ve seen an increase in social media usage. However, social media engagement rates during coronavirus continue to shift as brands respond to the pandemic, according to RivalIQ.

How do you keep your social media audience engaged during COVID-19? Below we discuss 10 tips on how to nail your social media strategy during the pandemic:

1. Adjust your messaging (or tone), but don’t stop posting! Most importantly, don’t stop your digital campaign. As mentioned before, social media usage has seen an increase with people staying home. Media consumption has increased as well. According to Global Web Index, over 80% of consumers surveyed say they consume more content since the outbreak. Just because your mission might be unrelated to healthcare, human services or emergency response – it doesn’t mean you can’t post now. Simply find a way to relate your cause to the pandemic. Our client, the Mattress Recycling Council (MRC) manages a mattress recycling program in three states and you might think – how does it relate to coronavirus? It doesn’t, but some collection sites have closed temporarily. Therefore, we’ve changed the messaging from “go out now” to “call ahead”, and “stay safe”. Also, the brand’s spokesperson is Sandman and he’s now wearing a face mask. See below some images shared on social. This is a great time to focus on awareness rather than encourage action.

Another example, is from our client Virginia Hospital Center (VHC). We leveraged our advertising tagline and adapted it to fit the current situation. Here are some examples of how we transformed “better together” to promote telehealth, new hospital visitation policies and their drive-through testing facility.

Keep in mind that every post and ad you run during these times will need to have a layer of care and empathy.

2. Remind your supporters or donors that this is a unique opportunity for charitable giving. Don’t stop asking for donations. Take this time to encourage donations and explain to your supporters that the CARES Act removed limitations on how much of your charitable donations can be deducted against your income. You can read more details here. Share this information on social and link it to the official government site for the fine print details. And maybe not all of your supporters will be able to give a monetary donation at this time, but what are other ways that they can get involved with your cause now? Here are some examples of social media creative for our client Wesley Housing encouraging donations.

Remember to include thank you images as well. It’s important to thank your supporters and give them updates on how their contribution has helped your organization move forward during these times.

3. Take advantage of trending hashtags and/or cause awareness days. This should be an everyday practice really, but it’s important now more than ever. Do some research on trending hashtags that people are using now during coronavirus times. Then, combine those popular hashtags with your cause. Here’s a good list from Digital Trends on popular social distancing hashtags to get you started. Consider upcoming awareness days to plan content ahead of time when those hashtags will be trending. An example of how our agency capitalized on this idea happened just a few days ago, when we celebrated National Nurses Day on May 6th. We showcased one of the creative items developed for our client Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) and gave them a shout out using the #NationalNursesDay.

4. Connect with your online community. This is a great opportunity to go live and share stories. Consider going live with the founder or president of your nonprofit and have this person share their story – what motivated them to found the organization? Also, consider interviewing a beneficiary and how your organization has impacted their life. Give updates on how is everyone doing, answer questions. Currently, there has been an increase in organizations doing “ask me anything” videos. This encourages engagements and helps you get to know your social media followers better.

5. Connect with an influencer. Influencer marketing is just another way of online marketing. According to Hootsuite, 74% of consumers rely on social networks to influence buying decisions. Find an advocate that is already engaged with your organization and your cause. They don’t have to be a celebrity or Hollywood star. Consider local community leaders to help increase awareness on your cause. Influencers deliver more engagements; they’re cost-effective and they drive social buzz.

6. Host virtual events. In the past few weeks, the number of virtual events has dramatically increased. Consider hosting your own virtual event and promote them on social media. Our client, the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington (IFC) has been hosting virtual dialogues and they celebrated Day of Unity virtually. They also have video series online to share how people are celebrating religious rituals at home during coronavirus. Here are some images we developed for them to encourage their supporters to keep the faith and celebrate religious holidays safely from home.

Like all events that were planned for the month of April, MRC had to rethink Earth Day. Some events were canceled, but others were celebrated virtually. Our agency developed creative to celebrate virtual Earth Day events and promote them on social media.

7. Ask your supporters to share their stories. User-generated content helps spark online conversations, increase engagements and build trust. It will help diversify your content calendar and highlight those key supporters. Some social media platforms have an ask feature; use it to ask specific questions about how your organization has helped them, how are they managing staying at home. Hold a contest or challenge for your supporters to share their stories. It can be something as simple as “come up with a caption for this image” or ask them to submit a photo. Check out these tips from Sprout Social on user-generated content.

8. Think about ways your organization can help. Also, consider ways in which your organization can partner or help others during these times. Partnerships have always been a great way to engage with a larger audience and connect with other people that have similar interests but didn’t necessarily know your organization existed.

9. Support and keep everyone informed. Think about your internal and external audiences. Let them know how you’re doing, check-in with them too. Any funny stories you can share while you’re all working from home? How are you keeping everyone safe in the organization? These type of feel-good posts will boost happy feelings in such a difficult time.

10. Consider joining virtual classes to learn more about how to communicate with your supporters. Social media is fast-changing and now more than ever, we have to stay up to speed on those changes to better communicate with our audiences and adapt. There are plenty of free webinars out there that you can sign up, for now, to educate yourself on different topics, such as fundraising during coronavirus and social media management. Check out this link for 53 free webinars happening this month. Also, check out this Collaborative: Virtual Session happening next month.

There will be a lot of lessons to learn from this pandemic. For now, let’s plan to adapt and continue reaching out to our audiences. They still want to hear from you.

Let us know how your organization has adapted to COVID-19. Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you.