On any other seemingly normal workday, law firms use social media to connect with professional connections, existing clients, and local communities on everyday items such as offered services or practice areas, awards or accomplishments, and promoting speaking engagements, among other things. However, in light of ongoing concerns over the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, ensuring these platforms are also being utilized for crisis related communications is more paramount than ever.
Social Media’s Role in Crisis Communications
Crisis communications are communications designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a public challenge, and should be reserved for serious events that require careful attention from management.
According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 55% of Americans get their news from social media. For teams working at the center of a crisis – including government officials, healthcare workers, and law enforcement – social platforms are one of the best ways to disseminate authoritative information quickly. But, what does that mean for brands like law firms?
Because important interactions can’t simply go ignored until the situation resolves itself, speaking out during the COVID-19 outbreak crisis must be done with considerable care.
Social media can be used to connect and make sense of the new normal we are experiencing each day by providing:
- Rapid, direct communication of firm updates, including changes in office hours, announcing telecommunicating, or any relevant news updates related to the firm’s practice areas.
- Social listening to learn more about what’s happening in the world and in the legal field. This can include legislative changes much like recent child custody updates in Texas.
- Support for those who need help or information.
How to Effectively Communicate on Social Media During a Crisis
As people around the world hope that the current health crisis will change us all for the better, brands must actively work to strengthen trust and connections with their social audiences for the long term. Some of the best ways to ensure effective social media communication during a crisis include:
Review and pause/edit upcoming posts
As we’ve seen with COVID-19, information surrounding a crisis can change incredibly rapidly with new findings. Because of this, law firms must continually review any scheduled or drafted content to assess its relevancy during these uncertain times. Just like any other brand, no law firm wants to come off as tone-deaf by tweeting about an award or promoting content that could be viewed as “self-serving.” Any posts that are removed or rescheduled during this time shouldn’t be viewed as a loss. All the work and research that went into creating them can potentially be used at a later date.
Ensure an effective social media policy is in place
While no one can know for sure when a crisis will occur, having a preemptive social media policy in place can help law firms be better prepared. A good policy should provide ensure ongoing compliance with any attorney advertising rules and compile any and all crucial information needed to run your channels in line with brand standards and voice, including guidance on how to access social media accounts, for identifying the scope of the crisis and how it directly affects the firm, internal communication plans for employees, and the approval process for social content, among other items.
Communicate with honesty and compassion
When a law firm communicates with honesty, compassion, and humanity to its social following, it will win out in the long run. As the current pandemic continues, more and more of the population will feel the direct impact of it. Because these times are incredibly uncertain, the brands and organizations that choose to offer guidance and build trust with their audience during these difficult times are the ones who will be able to stay solvent in the long run.
Only cite credible sources
The spread of misinformation surrounding the coronavirus has been prevalent. Sending out poor messaging or incorrect information doesn’t merely damage your reputation, but it can be outright dangerous to the health of the general public. Ensure your firm has a fact checking protocol in place for statistics, data, and generalized information to avoid promoting false information – and maybe even take this opportunity to improve upon it. If a firm does publicize false or misleading information, it will look uninformed and can lose the trust of its social audience.
Utilize social media monitoring and listening
Social listening tracks mentions and conversations related to designated topics. Analyzing relevant social conversations allows law firms to track, analyze, and respond to conversations about them and about their practice areas on social media. A law firm can and should monitor social media channels for mentions of the firm, its attorneys, competitors, services, and more.
During a crisis, the firm’s social media team can continue to monitor audience conversations, what’s happening with competitors, and legal industry trends. For instance, how are other, similar firms responding to the emergency? And how are their clients and potential clients reacting to their responses?
Need More Social Media Help?
As the day-to-day lives of many remain uncertain as COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, it is incredibly important that law firms are as tactful and compassionate as possible. Going radio silent on social media only leaves existing clients and the overall social public feeling uncertain during this difficult time. The social media marketing team at Stacey E. Burke, P.C. creates and implements effective communication strategies to help law firms grow. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your firm with its social media marketing efforts.