With the COVID-19 coronavirus continuing to spread around the world, governments have been issuing guidance to businesses and workers.
In the event of an epidemic in the UK, up to a fifth of the workforce could be off sick, schools could be closed, towns and cities could be put into quarantine, and everyday life would change significantly. A pretty scary thought.
Hopefully, with the right action, we will be able to contain the virus and reduce its spread.
However, as a business, there’s no doubt you’re going to be affected in the coming months.
But how do you reference the coronavirus online, and what’s the best strategy for your business?
Below, we’ve put together some tips and tricks on responding to the coronavirus on social media sensitively, whether you’re a self-employed accountant or a private medical company.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice to offer is to be sensitive to the situation.
It’s natural that some of us are going to panic more than others, especially those who suffer from underlying health conditions that weaken our immune systems.
But brushing off the threat of the virus or ignoring it when it could impact your business is a bad idea.
Show sympathy to customers when they get in touch, let them know that you’re thinking of them, and don’t make light of the situation. Air your personal views away from business pages.
Without patronising your followers, consider offering them advice on how to stay healthy during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The UK government says that we should wash our hands regularly with soap and sing Happy Birthday twice.
Tidbits of information like this with a fancy graphic can show your followers that you’re aware of the situation and you want to help them.
Any tips that relate to your business will help.
A delivery company might suggest that parcels can be left on the doorstep to prevent direct contact. A healthcare company might ask patients to book online appointments via video call to reduce contamination.
Stay up to date
The situation is changing rapidly, and as a small business, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest information and have a response should your business and customers be affected.
If you run a theatre and large-scale gatherings are temporarily banned, for example, you’ll need to respond to your customers in a calm and measured manner, offering refunds or information on rescheduled events.
Follow the news, discuss possibilities behind the scenes, and have a cool, calm, and collected response on social media.
The more measured you are, the more customers will respect you and see you as a positive source of news and information, rather than winging it.
Give back to customers
Another way to respond to the coronavirus on social media is to give back to your customers and followers.
Local businesses could organise drop-offs at foodbanks, for example, and share their progress on social media.
Companies in healthcare can offer free resources for download.
Supermarkets and convenience stores could offer free handwash to charities and small businesses and ask them to take a selfie.
Fitness firms could run free online training sessions for those who don’t want to visit the gym, doubling as a taster and free trial.
Don’t exploit fear
Finally, don’t exploit your followers’ fear over the coronavirus to sell merchandise.
Food and retail businesses will naturally see increased sales in the weeks ahead as people stockpile. But the last thing you want to do is appear as though you’re exploiting and profiteering from a global health emergency.
By all means, let customers know that you have handwash and food delivery slots available. But don’t run promotions centred around stockpiling or health, and make sure that every piece of information you share is verified and legitimate. Sharing misinformation, rumours, or worst-case scenarios won’t work in your favour.
Does your business have an action plan to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak? Has your marketing activity changed since the outbreak began? Let us know on Twitter @99socialUK, and we’ll update you with new information, advice, and resources as and where appropriate.