So, you’ve spent the last three weeks glued to your Instagram feed. Some of the content you’ve seen has inspired you, some has scared you, and some you could have straight-up done without.
Whether you’re an established influencer, manage social media for your company, or have just felt drawn to sharing more than usual on your personal social accounts while you’re self-isolating at home, there’s a right and wrong way to show up online amidst a pandemic. Here are five tips to keep in mind when you’re about to hit the enter key.
Stay Calm. There’s no need to add to the chaos or confusion right now. If you choose to share information about COVID-19, take your facts directly from the World Health Organization or a similar reliable and credible source. Panic is contagious, and it’s easy to get caught up in the ongoing message of fear. While honesty is important, make a conscious effort to stay positive and provide a little extra relief for your followers from the constant negative messages filling their feed.
Be sensitive. Before you post, take an extra second to think about the material you’re about to share. Ask yourself – does this represent my brand, company, or personal self best? If you’re not sure, ask for a second opinion before posting. If you have a social following, be open and ask your community what they’re expecting to see from you. While remaining sensitive, however, know that it’s okay to get creative and have fun while sharing online. If you do make a mistake with something you’ve posted and it’s too late, genuinely apologize to your audience, take a pause to reconsider your next steps, and then move forward. Unprecedented times sometimes mean that we learn by doing.
Get creative. Everyone has the opportunity to be a content creator, and now is the perfect time to share! More than ever, we’re all looking for an extra connection. Feel like sharing your recipe for that bomb banana bread? Have you found that meditation has calmed your anxiety and you want to post about it? Whether you have 10 or 10,000 followers, get creative with how you show up online. If you’re a brand, take time to create new, solution-based content. Facebook reports that Instagram Live views have increased more than 70% in the last week – how is your company joining in on this opportunity? Explore instructional, tutorial style, self-help advice or well-being tips, as it relates to your brand. Or if you’re following strict company guidelines, encourage your leadership team to share new policies or changes on Facebook or Instagram Live.
Don’t Go Dark. If you manage a company’s social presence or your own as an influencer, stay present. Your audience is right where you need them – at home, online, and actively looking to consume content. Ignore any pressure to sell if it feels out of alignment, or, know that it’s absolutely okay to continue selling online in a tasteful way. If you have a following and have partnerships planned (brand or influencer), this is revenue that you counted on and you’re responsible to fulfill these contracts. Regardless of the actual content, you create – advertisement, company update, or entertainment – now is the perfect chance to let your followers know you’re here. By using your expertise, you’re acting as a resource to someone who might need it most. We may be at home, but many are still shopping and planning for a future when we’re not quarantined. We’re also paying close attention to the way our favourite brands react to this pandemic, and we’re building allegiances to those who genuinely care about their employees and customers. Note, this point does not apply if you’re an individual who simply needs a break from the online noise. Taking time out from social media might actually be a responsible choice for your mental health.
Know your audience. If you’ve always posted entertaining, light-hearted content, keep the memes coming. Or, if your brand is a consistent voice of authority, your followers will still be looking for the same sense of direction and professionalism. In addition, remain honest with your audience about the direction of your content. Are you closed until further notice, open for curbside pickup, or fulfilling a pre-existing contract with a brand? Share the intent behind your content with your audience, and then post away. And, if you’re the average gal Instagram-storying her heart out for a little extra connection or because your dog looks damn cute sleeping and you want to share – share! It’s a-okay and your friends (and mom!) will love it.
We’re all doing our best to figure out this “new normal,” and these tips are just a few reminders to keep in mind as you open up your favourite social media apps. Above all, breathe. Sanitize your phone and wash your hands. Spend a few extra hours catching up with your best friend on Facetime. Take breaks from the scroll. Stay six feet apart. And most importantly, keep safe and healthy. We’ll get through this, and in the meantime, there’s always another Tik Tok dance to learn.
Katee is the founder of Duarte Group, a social media agency specializing in strategy + management, social advertising, and influencer partnerships. You can follow her on Instagram: @kateeduarte and @duartegroupinc.