If you’re in business these days or a business owner, your business is online. You likely have 2-5 social media platforms and if you’re doing your marketing correctly you have a strategy in place, you have planned your content and you’re implementing and posting on a consistent basis.
But, what happens when world affairs or issues surface that you could not have seen or planned for in your content or communications? The Covid-19 situation was the most recent circumstance that had businesses reeling in many ways. Content had to be adjusted, even business models had to be adjusted. It was a serious and tough time to navigate for many businesses.
What about when something happens in the world that captures the attention of the world because of it’s intensity, severity, importance, etc? Right now we are experiencing the protests in the US and around the world in support of #BlackLivesMatter and many of us have turned our attention to this to support in any way we can. But, as social media is a platform for everyone, there is always polarization, opinions, and anger that happens online during highly sensitive and volatile situations.
What we’re here to discuss is how you, a business owner or your social media manager representing your business online, can navigate these times with grace. How do you maintain a presence online but still be respectful and supportive of the real-world issues that are happening? This is an important question because as a business you have a responsibility beyond just your personal opinions or views, you are operating on behalf of a business that services others so it is very important that you remember this and remember to keep your own emotions and opinions out of it.
These are our TOP 6 tips on how to plan and implement your online content with grace and professionalism during sensitive community times.
READ THE ROOM
This is the first and most important place to start. When you walk into the room ( social media, online media, online discussions) read what the energy is and what people are talking about. If you walk into a room and the discussion is serious, or about grief or sadness, don’t start making jokes. All that does is show that you are insensitive, not interested in listening, and really just there for yourself. The same applies to online business content. READ. THE. ROOM. And respond accordingly. Professionally this shows you are engaged, active, listening, and respectful – which is what you want your followers to see. They will respect your business because of this.
LISTEN AND LEARN
Listen and learn about the particular issue that is present right now in the world. Learn from people who know what they are talking about, from experts of the subject matter or other business owners who have already done their research. Don’t get your learning from your Facebook Friends, dig deeper, and use Critical Thinking to discover what this issue is really about.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
Once you’ve researched and understood the ‘vibe of the room’ currently and what is really happening then you need to fully understand that unless you are directly involved, it has nothing to do with you. So, this means that your opinions, judgments, or the like are not important. As a business owner, you need to show respect, not what you think should or shouldn’t be done. Your content should not include memes that lean one way or the other and it should never show a political stance. Your content must be respectfully aware, period. No more, no less.
AVOID THE ‘FLUFF’
Avoid posting selfies, office views, desk pics, or other stuff that is considered ‘fluff’ – this kind of content is great regularly, but it has no place when there are serious issues being grappled with worldwide and online. Save it for another time when there is a pause or rest period and people are not grieving as a collective.
PAUSE THE PROMOTION
This is NOT the time to promote your new course, service, book, or the like. Of course, you have worked hard at whatever you had planned to launch or promote, but when times are sensitive self and business promotion will just read wrong. It will read very, very wrong. Again, it displays you as a business owner/person who does not care enough about world events to bother adjusting your narrative to support or be sensitive to the issues at hand. It will not reflect positively on your business if all of your content is still ‘business as usual’ with no ‘nod’ to what is going on in your immediate and extended community. This is especially important if the world events are very volatile and carry anger, sadness, grief, or other tragic and traumatic feelings. This is NOT the time to promote your stuff. Wait, give it some time, go back to the first tip, and only promote when the timing and the energy is right.
KNOW YOUR BRAND
During times like these, it is very important to know and understand your business brand deeply. This will inform you of how you show up online in response to sensitive issues that are prevalent. If you choose to take a supportive role, that is fine, but do so respectfully and do so in a way that aligns with your overall brand message. Be clear on your intentions to support and then be clear on how you intend to put that support into action.
Here is a good example of this in action with a large brand, Netflix:
This business has a highly visible platform and it works very closely with their community worldwide – it is very important that as a brand they are not silent, but that they show their support respectfully and professionally.
Whatever you do, whomever you serve as a business it is VERY important that you adjust your content, alter your messaging and take the time and the respect to deeply consider how your business and your brand will react and respond. Being silent or worse – carrying on, as usual, will send a very negative message to your followers. It is important to embody humanity within your professionalism. It is vital to listen and respond with compassion and support. It is your duty, as a business to know the subject matter, choose your words carefully, and show that you are present, aware and respect the space that this issue needs right now online as a global discussion.
As business owners we have an obligation to show up for others, it’s what we signed up for from the beginning. As a business, it is especially important that we stay in communication with our community, be engaged with the discussions that are important to our followers, stay up to date and relevant with current world issues, and most importantly, compassionate and supportive when the times call for it – this is Public Relations. You do not want to be seen as selfish and self-absorbed because you did not take the pause to reflect and respond appropriately. The damage that will do to your business image is totally avoidable. A big sized chunk of effective marketing revolves around credibility and visibility online. Don’t undo all the hard work you’ve done building your online profile, being a thought leader, and nurturing your community by failing to take a pause to reflect and respond to the world around you with true integrity and strong leadership.
If you have questions about how to market your business or adjust your online communications during difficult global issues and times, feel free to reach out to us – we’re here to help you navigate with grace and professionalism.