How to Be Professional on Twitter During a Crisis

How to be Professional on Twitter During a Crisis - #TwitterSmarter chat with Kim Scaravelli - April 2, 2020

If you manage social media and have never experienced posting and maintaining your account during a crisis, you’ve now got plenty of time to practice. With the whole world struggling to stay sane while staying home because of you-know-what, it’s become so much more important for brands to keep a level head and not do something foolish.

What comprises of being foolish during a crisis? Ignoring reality, pretending it’s all ok, and completely disregarding other people’s struggles.

So how do you be sensible on Twitter during a crisis? We asked digital and branding strategist Kim Scaravelli to shed some light on how to navigate these strange times.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Kim Scaravelli
How to be Professional on Twitter During a Crisis
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: When building a Twitter strategy, should you think about crisis management?

Certainly. Nothing about our world is constant. Situations change by the second, and whether or not you like it, as Dr. Alexandria pointed out, there’s always something somewhere that’s affecting your audience. You need to be prepared to face strange and uncomfortable situations.

When planning for a crisis you have no idea about, think of some of the basics, as our guest said. Know who’s going to take charge from your social media perspective, have a plan for what steps you’ll take, and most importantly, devise a set of brand guidelines everyone should follow during the crisis.

One way to think about why you need a crisis management plan is, like Ed said, is to consider it like a ripple effect. Your customers have employees, across the world, who’re dealing with various global issues every day. By serving your customers considerately, you’re in turn showing your support to their employees.

Q2: During an unexpected crisis, what is the first thing you should do?

Don’t panic. That’s not going to help anyone feel better. Look at the toilet paper matter, for instance.

The first thing you should do when you realize that the crisis is taking over, is to pause every post you’ve scheduled already.

But remember, pausing is only the start. Once you’ve done that, look back at your crisis management plan and see how you can execute it.

As Marianne suggested, check in on your customers and audience. Use that time to reconnect with your community, engage with them, and identify ways you can help them—without being salesy.

It’s critical that you temporarily forget all sales targets. This is not a time to sensationalize tragedies, like Jaycee explained.

That doesn’t mean you’ll lose business, but instead, it means that you’re prioritizing your customers. It means you’re showing humility.

Most of our community members talked about the importance of being calm during a crisis. There’s plenty of people out there making things worse for everyone, spreading fear and hatred. That’s when you should remain level-headed.

Q3: What are your top tips on adjusting Twitter activity and content during a crisis?

Think like you’re personally affected by the crisis, and behave the way you’d want others to behave. In other words, be sensible, reasonable, and considerate.

Don’t automate any of your content. Instead, be present and respond to customers in real-time. Show them that you’re in it as much as they are. People won’t engage with brands they don’t resonate with. That’s why it’s important to be realistic and true to yourself.

Always double check any stats you’re sharing—especially if you’re talking about an unfolding crisis. You don’t want to spread misinformation or cause unnecessary panic.

It can also be highly tempting to turn the tables on a crisis and make it funny. Memes and jokes flood the internet every time something bad happens. However, as our guest cautioned, if there’s even a small possibility that your humor could be misinterpreted, back off right away.

It can be confusing to decide what else you can do when the world seems to have suddenly slowed down, like now, for example. But as Christine said, just because a lot of businesses are temporarily closing, it doesn’t mean you should stop doing business altogether.

Think about it. If you’re a service or a product-based business, you still have customers who’re regularly using your services. Instead of running aggressively after new customers, help existing ones. Offer assistance, guidance, and reassurance—that’ll also help non-customers appreciate you for what you do.

Jeremy had some advice for nonprofits. During tough times, it’s challenging for community-based organizations to stay afloat. Make sure you’re constantly communicating with your investors and well wishers. Keep them up-to-date so that they know you’re doing ok. The last thing you want is for involved investors to back out because they were worried. Engage with your community, check in on them, and see that everyone’s coping well.

Q4: What can you post about on Twitter during a crisis?

Ok, so if you can’t be salesy and self-promotional, what else can you do? Your content will vary according to the crisis you’re dabbling in, but mostly you should be reassuring your community.

As Kayla said, you can talk about how you and your business is responding to the situation—about the changes you’ve had to make to ensure you can still remain in business. Share what you’re offering to your audience and how your community has taken initiatives to help each other. Positive experiences and stories uplift everyone.

Like our guest, you can also share quotes, motivational music and multimedia, and resources about dealing with the crisis. For example, with most of us just starting to work from home, you can interview people who’ve been doing it for a long time and share their advice. Found gardening tips? Share it—everyone has a lot more time on their hands nowadays. Perhaps you found an article that compares the various video meeting apps available. Share that too! Come up with ways to keep your audience engaged and informed.

If you’re not sure, though, just ask. Like Avery reminded us, it’s completely ok to ask your audience what they need from you. Listen to find the kind of content that drives conversations, and share more of that.

Q5: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when reacting to a crisis?

Ignoring the crisis. It’s almost a crime to pretend like nothing’s happened and that everything will be back to normal in a couple of days.

Acknowledge the situation—treat it with respect and offer the sympathy that those who’re affected deserve.

This is not a time to point fingers at each other either. Whether it’s an internal crisis in your business that’s impacted your customers, or a more global one like the current pandemic, it’s important not to run away from the responsibility.

And whatever you do, don’t continue your automated posts. That certainly has to stop.

Erin made a great point about dealing with a business-related crisis. If something’s gone wrong, own up and tell your partners and stakeholders what’s going on. Masking the truth does more harm than good to everyone involved.

On the flip side, when you’re in the middle of a more global crisis, constant advice and updates can become daunting as well. While your community will appreciate you for being realistic, it can quickly get annoying if you’re ignoring your regular matters.

You shouldn’t pretend like business is as usual, but like Kelli said, don’t go the other extreme either. Try and find the right balance.

Q6: Who are some Twitter users who’re doing a great job in these strange times?

Kim shared a big list of people across various industries who’ve risen brilliantly in these crazy times. Check out their content for some inspiration and even motivation for yourself. Most of them are business owners who’re making the best of the worst.

Like Joana and Anita told us, most government offices and news organizations are covering the Covid-19 crisis excellently. Not only are they constantly sharing updates through traditional media outlets, but they’re also taking to social media with live videos and tweets.

Q7: With so much uncertainty nowadays, what are some important metrics to track right now?

The most important metric to track any day is your engagement. That’s the primary indicator of how much conversation you generate and how many people you reach.

Also keep an eye out for your retweets and likes.

Smita pointed out some other metrics you should follow up on, like phone and website enquiries coming from social media, brand mentions on Twitter, and comments on your posts.

But like our guest said, during a crisis, you shouldn’t be worrying too much about click through rates or follower counts. Your priority isn’t getting more sales or prominence, but being there for your audience during tough times.

Jeremy put it well. At a time like this, all that matters is making sure everyone’s doing ok.

Q8: How can you tell if your crisis strategy is successful?

Are people still looking up to you for helpful content and assuring communication? Then you’re doing well. Crisis management isn’t about coming up with something groundbreaking. It’s about staying grounded even when it’s difficult.

But how exactly do you know if people are still looking for your content? Simple. Like Chris mentioned, just listen to your audience before you go trumpeting.

Well, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, and for more insights from our chat, check out this Twitter Moment that Joana put together. If you’ve got some time next Thursday, join us for the #TwitterSmarter chat at 1pm ET.

These are strange and testing times. If you’re struggling and need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out anytime. Happy to listen.

Stay safe and vigilant, folks. ?


About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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