2020 has been a crazy year so far.
Naturally, in March, the coronavirus struck the United States, everything shut down, and businesses went into crisis mode. Fast forward a couple of months, we have the senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and protests erupt in every major American city, disrupting businesses again, and bringing to the forefront issues that have been undealt with in American society. These are some of the weightiest issues that we have faced in recent times, yet at the end of the day, businesses continue to move things forward because they have to make money and pay their employees.
As part of that, you’re going to have to continue certain marketing efforts, even in the face of a crisis. But how do we post on social media and do marketing in a time when so many people are going through tough situations?
I’ll be honest, I don’t think that there’s an easy answer. As we’ve gone through the last few months, we’ve found certain things that we feel comfortable doing to add to the discussion in a useful, relevant way.
3 Rules for Posting on Social Media During a Crisis
There are three rules that I’ve been living by for the past couple of months when it comes to social media.
1. Do not make knee-jerk posts.
My first tip is to not make any knee-jerk posts on social media.
I’ll be honest with you, as someone with a Twitter and LinkedIn account that can reach a lot of people, this rule can be difficult to follow. I have opinions on what’s going on that I might want to share, but at the end of the day, I’m responsible for my law firm and I need to make sure that we go out with a message that everybody in our firm can be proud of.
If you look at the posts I’ve made, they’ve been very thoughtful. One post that sticks out in my mind is an article I wrote for my LinkedIn profile. I was upset about businesses that had taken PPP money, the Payroll Protection Program money, that didn’t really need it because I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about it, given what I do for a living. I also had a personal story where my own father who runs three automotive repair centers, could not obtain PPP money and had to consider laying off a large amount of his staff when the coronavirus lockdown started. And he couldn’t obtain that PPP money because of others who took it that didn’t really need it.
So, I could have posted some angry messages on Twitter or LinkedIn, but that wouldn’t have helped anything. What I did was write an article and share a family story about how my great grandfather didn’t take more rations than he needed during World War II. I felt that that story really illustrated what had changed in American culture and that we just had businesses taking as much as they could for themselves without thinking about the greater good. It turned into a well-received article that made me feel good to put it out there. It was an opinion and I try to stay away from my personal opinions when possible, but I felt it was an important point to make. That is one example of how not to make a knee-jerk reaction and how to actually put something out that’s thoughtful and gives people a different perspective that they may not be seeing in the headlines.
2. Remain on message.
The second point is to stay on message and not get so far out of what your typical comfort zone is
At the end of the day, we’re a trademark law firm and people come to us for trademark advice. They probably don’t want to know if I’m a Republican, a Democrat, an independent, etc. My views may not be shared by the majority of my clients or half my clients may feel one way and half the other. So, it’s not my job as a trademark lawyer for folks to get involved in that. So, every post we have made has had a trademark tilt to it.
With coronavirus, we’ve been keeping track of all the coronavirus trademark filings that have been made with the USPTO. As of the filming of this show, I think we’re getting close to 900 filings made about the coronavirus. We thought it was an incredibly interesting side of the story that we were uniquely positioned to tell.
When it came to George Floyd, I feel that actions speak a lot louder than words. We’ve been having internal conversations about what is our firm’s actions are going to be, but we were not going to issue a statement about how it’s wrong because we think that’s obvious. That’s just obvious, and we need to do something that’s actionable. If in a year, we haven’t done something, then shame on us. But for right now, we’re trying to figure out what actions we’re going to take, and then we will announce those actions.
In the meantime, we’ve done what I said. We’re not going to make a knee-jerk statement or a reaction, and we’re going to stay on message. For example, we’ve been watching trademark filings and there’s been a couple of things to report on. Some knucklehead, we’ll call him a knucklehead because that’s the nicest thing I can call him on camera, tried to file a trademark application for George Floyd for his name. Just repugnant, but something I felt people should know, it was information we could put out there that we were uniquely positioned to do. The NAACP has recently started using a hashtag that they also filed a trademark on. Again, we felt we were uniquely positioned to put that information out there. As you can see, when it comes to the coronavirus or it comes to George Floyd, we’ve been very thoughtful about what we want to do on social media and what statements the firm wants to be a part of.
3. Stay positive when possible.
There’s so much negativity in the news today that I don’t feel the need to pile on to it. I think if I can provide people with useful information and do so in a positive manner, that will hopefully brighten their day a little bit. And that’s part of the reason we update the coronavirus filings. Some have just been funny. It’s worth pointing them out because maybe it puts a little smile on someone’s face and it just lightens a really difficult, difficult situation. Try not to go down that rabbit hole of just being adding to the negativity that’s out there. Sometimes you may not be able to help it, but the more positive you can be, the more your network of folks that knows you is going to appreciate your posts.
It’s been a tough year and there’s a lot going on. It can be difficult to know the right thing to do all the time. These rules are really going to help you with social media in 2020. Hopefully, if you come across this years later, you can still apply these tips if any crises pop up.
If you have anything to add to the conversation or if you would like me to cover a topic in a future show, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also leave a comment or connect with me on LinkedIn.
I hope you all are staying safe, staying healthy, and I’ll talk to you next time.