By Davitha Ghiassi
The COVID-19 crisis has shaken nearly every aspect of the insurance industry, putting financial strains on businesses of every size. Now more than ever, brokers need to lean into their role as trusted adviser, proving the value that the relationship model brings to clients whose lives and business may have been upended.
Because of social distancing, a tremendous amount of traffic has been driven to digital channels. Brokers have closed their doors and are relying exclusively on online transactions. Online news consumption has exploded. Social media engagement is up 61 percent since the outbreak struck. And—at the intersection of all of this—consumption of branded social content has greatly increased.
Employees are looking online for information, communication and support. Along with their increased attention to brands’ social channels, they are bringing to the table much higher expectations for meaningful, helpful content during this time.
The question for brands is not whether to post, but how to post content of true value—content that makes a positive contribution to your audience’s radically changed lives. Now is the time to focus on making your social channels shine with helpful information that strikes the right chord.
This is business as unusual. To sense-check content during the COVID-19 crisis, we recommend using the HATCH method for thinking through the purpose and tone of each post. Ask yourself, is this:
There is no doubt that this pandemic has completely reimagined the world of work and will continue to do so. Employers and employees have previously unforeseen needs, which in turn have changed how businesses can be of value to their customers—particularly by offering helpful information and support through social. Since the beginning of social distancing, companies have been sharing advice on communicating to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. For example, ADP has created a toolkit for employers with resources to maintain quick payroll management, details on COVID-19 legislation, email templates with messaging for employers, and work-from-home tips.
In and beyond a time of crisis, sharing clear and accurate information with your audience is of the utmost importance. Major platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have made efforts to direct users to reliable content from health organizations and have committed to eliminating misinformation during the crisis. But companies also have a role to play in sharing accurate information regarding the impact on their audience. That’s why you see insurance company Cigna using its channels to share doctor-driven tips on accessing healthcare during the pandemic, specifically what employees can do if they have a dental emergency and how to maintain proper oral health to avoid needing to see a dentist. Benefits.gov has positioned itself as a trusted authority on benefits by creating an FAQ page to guide employers and employees through common questions on topics like unemployment benefits and applying for small-business loans, so they understand the options available during the crisis.
As the situation is changing every day, acknowledging and acting on the latest developments through your communications is key—particularly in the fast-moving world of social media. VSP does an excellent job of staying timely with a regular Instagram Live series with eye-care professional influencers, sharing updates in real time about the state of their practice and how they continue to treat patients, providing accurate information about COVID-19 as it relates to eye health, often dispelling misperceptions that are circulating. Tapping doctors to share information on a weekly basis helps VSP give its eye-care providers and members an update on the state of the industry as changes happen in real time.
Communities all over the world have come together to acknowledge and thank healthcare workers on the front lines of the crisis—and this kind of compassionate, grateful response is also important and appropriate for social media. It’s important to acknowledge that times are hard for some people, and we could all use a bit of encouragement. One company that has done a fantastic and creative job of changing gears from product-driven to purpose-driven content is Aetna. The company has created a series of graphics for its followers with simple tips to help keep your mental health under control—from listening to music to distancing yourself from triggering situations.
Social media is a two-way street. It’s not a channel for companies to speak at customers, but rather to engage in dialogue with them. Having a human perspective and showing that you understand your audience’s situation on a personal level is critical. SHRM has solidified its place as the authority on human resources by focusing on its core audience: employers. The organization developed a video outlining tips for gauging and responding to employee questions and sentiment. It also asks its followers questions to engage them in conversations about timely topics, like returning their workforce to the office, encouraging employers to share insights and opinions with one another.
Davitha Ghiassi is executive vice president of Social & Integration at Red Havas, a Merged Media agency specializing in earned, social and experiential storytelling with content at its core. Find Davitha at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter or Instagram at @DavithaGhiassi.