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5 rules of thumb for digital communication in times of crisis

The Corona crisis has hit the global economy hard. An important factor in keeping business running even in times of crisis: Communication with those who continue to buy products and services. While for e-commerce brands the use of Facebook, Instagram and Co. is part of the business model in most cases, stationary retail, for example, is in the process of discovering the true potential of social media for itself.

Either way, the Corona crisis presents all companies with previously unknown challenges in their communications. Jimmy Jakobsson, CEO and Co-Founder of Ingager, explains which five rules of thumb brands should definitely take into account in this particular time so that social media can become a success factor, especially in difficult times.

Do not stop communicating!
“The show must go on” – a proverb that has been tried and tested these days, but it is certainly not always appropriate to use it. However, with regard to the digital communication of companies, this saying has the highest validity at the moment. The first rule of thumb is: no matter what happens – do not stop communicating!

Initiatives, challenges, hashtags: In view of the numerous actions in social networks that are designed to combat the spread of the corona virus and to give a boost to the crippled global economy, as well as the sometimes strict initial restrictions around the globe, it can be assumed that the number of users and usage figures in social networks is currently rising rapidly.

Those who communicate online can theoretically reach more people with their content and products than ever before. However, as everyday social interaction has largely shifted to social networks, the demands of users are also increasing. Accordingly, brands must assume that their fans and followers expect that people will seek dialogue all the more instead of shutting down their communication activities.

Adapt your communication and offer solutions!
Against the background of growing attention and increased expectations, it is all the more important to know your target groups as well as possible and to identify and address issues that concern them in the current crisis situation. Which problems are causing the community concrete problems? Which solutions can be offered?

For example, a very likely scenario for online retailers these days is an interruption in the supply chain, resulting in delays or even cancellations. As much as the scale of the corona crisis surprised us: developments of this kind should be identified at the earliest possible stage and taken into account in communications as soon as possible.

Of course, little can be done in the event of structural impairments such as delivery bottlenecks by service providers. However, it is always possible to moderate such circumstances by remaining proactive, reacting immediately to comments and direct messages – and, if necessary, even expanding the channel selection in order to shorten the line to the customer even further, for example via WhatsApp.

Demonstrate flexibility!
It is not only in the communicative context that it can be decisive for success in the wake of Corona’s concomitant phenomena that companies break away from familiar structures and seize the opportunity to demonstrate real flexibility. The marketing strategy, for example, should be reassessed and possibly adapted.

Depending on the product or service offering, it may make sense to replace certain features that have been emphasized so far with ones that are currently relevant. Adjustments in the sales strategy, such as the introduction of (temporary) free delivery or the possibility of pre-ordering certain products, can also generate positive feedback from the target group.

Ideally, this flexibility should also be reflected in the way brands address customers. Anyone who is prepared for the fact that the framework conditions of our everyday life can currently change daily, if not hourly, is well advised to be prepared. With all hope that the most turbulent phase of the crisis is over: we cannot know.

Stay focused and authentic!
When topics dominate the public discourse, the diversity of opinions is nowhere more visible than in social networks. Therefore, especially in times of crisis, it is important to carefully consider an active positioning in a polarizing topic environment and to decide what kind of radiance – positive or negative – a certain message could have for my brand.

In practice, this also means that not every hype and play on words (keyword “beer”) that is currently rushing through the social networks is worth surfing. Every single one, whether follower or not, is massively restricted in his or her everyday life by the current situation. Accordingly, empathy is the order of the day in brand communication.

In this respect, the theme agenda of digital corporate communications should focus on offering support to the community, inspiring and sometimes even entertaining them. In doing so, brands should make sure that they remain true to their style and do not lapse into actionism.

Take responsibility!
Not having to add your two cents to everything does not mean that you cannot stand up for your beliefs. On the contrary: A recent study by YouGov has found that two thirds of all consumers are in favour of brands expressing their opinion on a topic. However, this not only creates opportunities, but above all responsibility.

These days, there is hardly a space where companies and consumers come as close to each other as in social media. Accordingly, it is now important to communicate to your followers via Facebook, Instagram and the like as clearly as possible how to deal with the current crisis situation and meet your corporate responsibility.

At present, a sense of responsibility not only includes keeping day-to-day business running as smoothly as possible and adapting one’s service to the new needs of customers. Fulfilling your responsibility as an entrepreneur also means standing up for decisions that will not exactly trigger a storm of jubilation in the community – keywords being short-time work or layoffs.

Conclusion: Understand the crisis as a unique situation
The motto of companies must now be: look ahead, identify opportunities and make the best possible use of them. The many possibilities of digital communication are one of them: Those who can navigate their customers and followers credibly through the crisis can strengthen their brand awareness sustainably, especially now.

Because this much is already clear: this unprecedented situation, which is turning global everyday life upside down, will be remembered by every single person forever. Consequently, every brand now has the unique opportunity to make the best of it – and ideally to be remembered for the way it dealt with the crisis.

JIMMY JAKOBSSON
CO-FOUNDER & CEO
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