The spread of the coronavirus makes it a challenging, stressful and tragic time. I hope you, your families and your colleagues are healthy and safe. 

Over the past few weeks, the most common question I’m getting from B2B companies is “How should we be handling our social media during this time of crisis?”

Here are my recommendations.

It’s fine to say nothing about the virus

Some brands are right in the middle of the pandemic: healthcare companies, hospitals, airlines, restaurants, hotels, etc. They have a responsibility to communicate with customers and constituents. Others may not be, like many B2B SaaS venture-backed startups. 

Stop to think about your brand’s connection to the pandemic. Have direct and open conversations with your employees. It’s absolutely fine to say nothing publicly if your customers are not expecting to hear from you at this time. 

Of course, if you have information that directly affects your customers, then it’s your responsibility to communicate to them. If there are issues with your brand delivering services because of disruptions, then acknowledge those disruptions and give frequent and helpful updates. Communicate clearly and directly. Use social media to help get your message out to your broader community. 

Your communications strategy in one word: measured

It’s time to be extra vigilant with your posts. Double check all copy (e.g., blog posts, emails, social) to ensure your brand isn’t tone deaf, and consider cutting back on promotional messaging until things settle down. 

It’s a good idea to put more team members on “review and oversight,” checking copy before it goes out and monitoring social media comments after it’s live. Review all comments and replies  to your social posts, both organic and paid, to see if they need to be responded to. 

Use social listening tools to monitor mentions of your brand and product names. Assess the sentiment of the comments you’re receiving and use that to adjust your communications as needed.

When sharing content, aim for thought leadership content, both from third parties and from your own brand. Consider sharing more of other people’s content right now (including content from your customers), to avoid the appearance that you’re overly pushing your own content.

Social media can be especially tricky regarding what is fun and engaging versus inappropriate in today’s environment. So when in doubt, err on the side of being extra careful and sensitive with all your social media posts and interactions. 

Take a step back to assess

While the world may never be the same again, we will return to some semblance of normal in the not too distant future. So now is also the time to consider, brainstorm, and ideate what this ”new normal” may mean for your customers and business model. 

What’s your brand’s unique point of view going to be in the new normal? Develop new marketing initiatives, content, and campaigns with this in mind. As Robert Rose stated on Episode 230 of PNR’s “This Old Marketing” podcast, now is a good time to “get your content house in order.” 

Don’t be on auto-pilot

The situation is dynamic, with things changing on an hourly basis. Now is not the time to be on auto-pilot with your social media posting. Something dramatic (or even tragic) can happen an hour from now that can result in your scheduled post being considered in poor taste, even if it seemed harmless at the time of scheduling.

Make it about the community

The days of impersonal B2B brands are over. It’s fine to be personable and conversational. In fact, it’s what your customers want. The moment is still right to start conversations and participate in existing ones. 

Just shift more of the focus to your community. 

For example, instead of only sharing how your team is doing, also ask others in your community how they are doing. Build lists of your clients, partners and “friendly followers” and pay extra attention to what they’re posting on social media. Chime in with a “thanks,” a “well done” or a “we’re here for you.” Celebrate the success stories of your clients in an organic way, not in a “we’re so happy for our client” way. 

My talk to a marketing meetup

Recently, at the Bay Area Content Marketing Meetup, I gave a talk titled “How B2B Brands Should Think About Social Media Marketing.” Feel free to watch the recording of my talk.

We’re all figuring this out together

Who knows. Maybe 50% of this blog post becomes irrelevant a week or month from now given how quickly the situation is changing. The main thing is to adapt, take cues from our community, and support one another.

Most of all, I hope you’re safe and healthy. I’m here if needed — email me, carter@leadtail.com. Take care.