What should your business be looking to say on social during the COVID-19 lockdowns?
Should you be saying anything at all? Should you be looking to make sales and advertise offers?
It’s difficult to know exactly what you should be doing, but for many businesses, there are still ways in which they can continue to operate, despite the restrictive conditions. And with engagement in social apps rising as people seek entertainment and distraction, it can actually be a good time to connect. If you do it right.
So what should be you sharing? Twitter recently outlined a range of key tips, which also serve as some pretty solid digital marketing pointers at anytime, even outside of the current situation.
Twitter’s four main pointers for communicating in the time of COVID-19 are:
These are the parameters around which you should be communicating – which, as noted, really relate to any other time as well, they’re just amplified in the current situation. But they serve as a prism through which to view your messaging. Does it fit into one of these categories? If it doesn’t, then leave it out, while you also need to maintain awareness of the situation, and how it’s impacting the people you’re trying to reach.
Twitter provides these examples – for ‘inform’, Twitter says that Clorox has been sharing cleaning tips, which are both relevant to its products and the current situation.
For ‘connect’, Twitter highlights Salesforce’s offer of free access to its technology to health systems affected by coronavirus, helping to support and connect with the broader community.
Salesforce is providing a COVID-19 Response Package that provides free access to technology for emergency response teams, call centers, and care management teams for health systems affected by coronavirus. Learn more: https://t.co/t3SEKK5XyS
— Salesforce (@salesforce) March 17, 2020
On ‘entertain’, Twitter praises Pinterest’s pantry-diving recipe recommendations – which, again, perfectly align with the brand, while also relating to a present need/situation.
Reply to this tweet with a photo of your pantry and we’ll respond with a recipe idea using the ingredients you already have ✨#STAYINspired
— Pinterest (@Pinterest) March 23, 2020
And on ‘Help’, Twitter points to LinkedIn’s offer of free WFH courses on LinkedIn Learning, providing assistance to the millions in suddenly changed work environments.
New to working from home? We now have a free learning path with 16 online courses that can help you create a successful remote working environment. https://t.co/ggrYkcaDuX
— LinkedIn Learning (@LI_learning) March 12, 2020
Again, these are good parameters to apply to your own communications – you want your messaging to align with these four elements, in relation to the current situation, in order to serve functional value to your audience, as opposed to blatant promotions.
Considering the present perspective is always key to implementing an effective strategy, but it’s even more pressing now, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The main notion, really, is considering how your messaging helps at this time, and what you’re offering your audience.
If it doesn’t fit into these categories, it likely doesn’t fit at all.
Iran ‘throttling’ internet to limit protest footage: activists
The restrictions still fall short of the total shutdown seen in November 2019 but have caused a reduction in the video footage shared – Copyright Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/File John Randeris HANSEN
Iran is imposing increasingly severe restrictions on access to the internet, albeit still short of a total shutdown, in an apparent bid to limit the sharing of footage of protests which have erupted nationwide, activists charge.
Campaigners and Persian-language television channels outside Iran have noted a reduction in the posting of footage of the protests filmed on mobile phones, almost two weeks into the movement that erupted following the death of Mahsa Amini.
The authorities have already restricted access to Instagram and WhatsApp — until now the last remaining unfiltered social media services — and have now clamped down on apps like the Google Play Store as well as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that seek to circumvent local access restrictions.
“It’s still not an internet shutdown, and it’s hard to even describe what they are doing to the network as ‘shutdowns’. Perhaps extreme throttling is the best simple term for it,” said the Iran researcher for freedom of expression group Article 19, Mahsa Alimardani.
“But the disruptions are heavy,” she told AFP, saying disconnections were hitting a peak from late afternoon to midnight when most protests take place.
The restrictions still fall short of the total shutdown seen in November 2019 when a crackdown on less than a week of protests, according to Amnesty International, left at least 321 people dead.
Videos of protests and alleged abuses by the authorities are still filtering out onto social media channels, but not in the same volume as when protests first erupted following the death of Amini who had been arrested by the morality police.
“The authorities seem to have learned how dangerous this is for their economy or overall public relations,” commented Alimardani.
– ‘Massive hurdle’ –
Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR), which says 76 people have been killed in the crackdown so far, said internet access has either been “severely disrupted or completely cut” over the last days.
“Internet disruptions continue to cause delays in reporting” deaths in the protests, it warned.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said: “Twelve days after the beginning of the protests, the internet network is still down daily throughout the country.”
In response, social media giants have sought to offer assistance to Iranians, the United States has even agreed sanction relief on some software, and tycoon Elon Musk has offered his Starlink satellite internet network.
But how much such measures can help, especially in the short term, remains unclear.
“Internet outages are happening more frequently worldwide, including in parts of Iran this week,” Google said in a statement on Twitter, saying its teams were “working to make our tools broadly available” following the eased US sanctions.
“We hope these changes help, in some small way, people safely access information at this important time,” it added.
Iranians have long used VPNs to access sites blocked in Iran — even government officials including the foreign minister have Twitter accounts despite the network being blocked in the country.
But Alimardani described using and accessing VPNs right now as “hit and miss” for Iranians with the blocking of the Google Play Store, a major blow when most Iranians are using Android mobile phones with their Google operating systems.
“This is a massive hurdle to downloading safe and new VPNs that work,” she said.
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