Communicating During a Crisis: Social Media and Covid-19

This is an unprecedented time. Unlike creating a social media strategy for a new product launch, there is no template or best practice for handling a global pandemic at this level.


However, we as social media professionals are well-equipped to deal with a crisis at this level. Our jobs depend on us being empathetic, having strong communication skills, flexibility, creativity, and a lot of the times finding the light in a dark situation. It is these skills that will help develop an effective plan to support your client/organization communication during this crisis.

Before we jump into the good stuff, I want to distinguish between crisis communication and communication in a crisis.

Crisis Communication vs Communicating During a Crisis

Crisis communication is something that many (especially those who are from the PR/Digital Marketing field) are very familiar with. Crisis communication is a form of brand communication meant to mitigate damage to a brand's reputation. For example The Pepsi's Kendall Jenner ad or the DiGiorno "Why I Stayed" Tweet.

In both of these examples, the crisis was due to their negative action or event caused by the company.

Communicating during a crisis refers to communication from a brand during a widespread crisis that is bigger than the brand itself. The crisis is likely to have an impact on the brand's business, operations, and community. For example, right now! The coronavirus pandemic is a crucial example of companies communicating during a crisis.

What do with the content I had Planned?

With social distancing and stay at home protocols being enacted, you can imagine it is not "business as usual." Something that social media professionals usually do is that they plan the content they want to post ahead of time sometime 3-6 months out. However, due to Covid-19, that plan and schedule content we had may no longer be relevant.


Take a look at any planned content you have for the next few weeks and ask yourself one simple question. "Does this feel relevant right now?" You may need to postpone your content, and that is fine.


It is essential that as a social media professional, we are well-informed about our clients/organization's operations, plans, and policies. During this chaos, your main objective is to provide clear, empathetic information to your audience.

What Should I Post on Social Media?

Before you even begin to think about what you want to post on Social Media, try to keep this in mind:

  1. Don't ignore the situation at hand: Pretending like Covid-19 isn't happening comes across and inauthentic and tone-deaf. Let your followers know that you are aware of our "new normal."
  2. Keep Posting: Your followers are spending more time online than ever before. Stay connected with them! Facebook and Instagram have seen a 40% increase in usage due to Covid-19, with views for Instagram Live and Facebook Live doubling in one week. (Later.com)
  3. Be empathetic: In essence, think twice before posting something right now. 
  4. Ask for help. If your business is struggling, it is okay to lean on your community.

The type of social media content that you'll be posting right now will either have the goal of retention, sales, or awareness.

Open for business Content

Like a lot of restaurants, your business is open but working hard to survive during these unusual times. What you will want to do is share content with the goal of getting sales. Here are a few ways you can do that

Like a lot of restaurants, your business is open but working hard to survive during these unusual times. What you will want to do is share content with the goal of getting sales. Here are a few ways you can do that

  • Show up on your stories every day. You don't have to be an Instagram model to go live, the main thing here is to stay top-of-mind with your followers.
  • Connect your online store to Instagram shopping. If you have a product, you're trying to sell tag products in posts and stories.
  • Share user-generated content. In both your stories and feed, thank your followers for shopping or ordering from you during this time. Make sure you encourage others to tag your company when they do.
  • Don't stop trying to sell. Be aware of what is going on, and be empathetic to the situation, but don't stop selling. 

Like a lot of restaurants, your business is open but working hard to survive during these unusual times. What you will want to do is share content with the goal of getting sales. Here are a few ways you can do that

  • Show up on your stories every day. You don't have to be an Instagram model to go live, the main thing here is to stay top-of-mind with your followers.
  • Connect your online store to Instagram shopping. If you have a product you're trying to sell tag products in posts and stories.
  • Share user-generated content. In both your stories and feed thank your followers for shopping or ordering from you during this time and encourage others to tag your company.
  • Don't stop trying to sell. By all means, be aware of what is going on and be empathetic to the situation but don't stop selling. Use your captions to provide context, educate your community, ask for support, and communicate your gratitude to your community for supporting you.

Closed for business (For Now)

If your business is closed or unable to operate right now, you want to share content with the goal of retention. You want to stay in touch with your existing followers so that you are top-of-mind. Some examples of business in this type of scenario are wedding photographers, hairstylists, gyms, etc.

  • Share educational videos, share them on your newsfeed, IGTV, your stories, it doesn't matter where as long as you are sharing videos.
  • Run an Instagram audit. Create on-brand highlight covers, update your bio, and archive any old posts that don't fit your aesthetic.
  • Invest in growing your Pinterest account! Pinterest is a search engine, not a social network, which means that the content you pin can reliably bring you a ton of traffic every month.
  • Create healthy habits. Now is a great time to establish healthy habits that you can sustain all year, whether that's scheduling a month of content at once, or setting aside 30 minutes every day to engage with new people on Instagram.

Waiting for Business

If your business is in a strong position, you're in a good spot to create content with the goal of awareness.

Take this time to grow your brand instead of your bottom line. Create a Tik Tock, invest in ring light, and start shooting videos for your social platforms. The production may not be perfect, but with people spending a lot more time on social media, it's only natural that video consumption is increasing among all social platforms.

Combine this with the fact that engagement is increasing, and people are spending 40% more time on Instagram, and it's easy to conclude that it's a perfect time for brands to be running influencer campaigns.


A creative strategy, according to Later.com, is to reach out to influencers you have worked with in the past and ask them to re-post content from an older campaign at a reduced rate.

About MKR Media Lab

Digital media marketing is overtaking traditional marketing as social media platforms and targeted ads make it possible to interact with specific audiences in real-time. Enter MKR Media Lab.  If you’re seeking a digital marketing expert simply to offer guidance or to design and launch an entire campaign for your business look no further, we offer SEO services, PPC services, social media marketing services, web design services, and so much more. 

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