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Social media during COVID-19

Working with a number of international contributors, we launched our white paper “Social media during COVID-19” last month. It’s been downloaded hundreds of times and to continue the conversation we are hosting a webinar on 17 June, which is almost already at capacity. I enjoyed interviewing many friends throughout the professional services sector to gather their thoughts on how firms and individuals were approaching social media at this time. 

The advice and suggestions in the paper have been compiled from a huge range of contributors from across the globe, from the US to UAE, and the key messages stay the same wherever you’re based. This may be an opportunity to showcase the best parts of yourself and your brand – Eduardo Reyes, Features Editor, Law Society Gazette, comments, “I’m mostly seeing lawyers, many of whom were cautious around social media before this, being helpful and supportive to each other, engaging in debate, providing information and also showing a human side. Was this the moment when swathes of the legal profession finally ‘got’ what they were being told about social media by their communications people? Personally, I hope it was.” 

One of the first people I spoke to was Peter Taylor, Managing Director of law firm Paris Smith in Southampton. He told us he believes that “It’s vital that firms are seen to be living their values, as people have long memories – the echoes of how your brand comes across during this time will continue to resonate long after the crisis is over.”

Many said that they thought that with people working from home and no sign of face-to-face marketing events on the horizon, reliance on social media will continue to increase. With this of course comes competition to be heard. When I spoke to Sean O’Grady, Managing Editor of the Independent newspaper, on what he thought was happening with social media during COVID-19, he told me, “Whether we like it or not (and whether it ‘likes’ you or not), social media is as significant as mainstream media these days, and rather more tricky to navigate.” The firms doing well are seeing this as an opportunity to increase their overall value to audiences.

Stand out from the crowd

Almost every firm uses social media to some degree, putting out content to help inform clients, illustrate company culture, and showcase expertise. So perhaps this all points to now being the right time for firms to look at their social strategies and content and to check that it is appropriate and sensitive to the current climate and the audience’s changed circumstances. 

Joanne Edwards, Head of Family at Forsters LLP, agrees: “Social media can be hard to get right at the best of times, but during a global pandemic which is unprecedented in our lifetime, and amid the anxiety and human suffering it has brought, even more so. We have all seen examples of those who have got it wrong, especially in trying to profiteer from people’s misery, and they are rightly called out.”

We are all adjusting to life during this pandemic, whether it’s marketing during a time when people are buying less, working from home, or home schooling your children. The best strategy is to listen first, then respond. It can be tempting to schedule the same old stock posts highlighting your firm’s sectors, award wins, and rankings, but crafting posts that resonate with your followers and their new situation will help to cut through the noise on social. 

Sensitive social media

Clients are increasingly aware of firms’ values – how they treat their staff and support their communities. The pandemic has pushed this to the forefront and social media is the perfect medium to showcase your community activity and how you are living up to what you’ve said you’ll do.

Our white paper, Social media during COVID-19, will help you examine your content and assess what will go down well and what might show your firm in a bad light. Above all, it will assist you in remaining helpful, relevant and useful to your audience. The paper includes a sensitivity checklist, practical advice on scheduling posts and social listening tools, guidance on how your brand can rise to the occasion and show vulnerability, how to deal with negativity and trolls, and suggestions around methods of producing content while home working.

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