We’re almost a year into the pandemic now and our reliance on online communications for personal and professional reasons is not going to reduce anytime soon.
Social media allows us to stay in touch with our family and friends, communicate with our charity supporters or even stay up to date with the latest news. No matter how and why you use it, there are challenges that come along with it.
Hate speech, fake news, and privacy concerns are prevalent. “Doom Scrolling” – the endless scrolling on your news feeds to consume negative stories, is a common habit.
So, let’s review our online habits to promote a more positive and inclusive experience and start thinking of the small steps that will help us shape an improved online experience.
#ReclaimSocial is a campaign to make social media more positive and inspiring. It encourages us to come together on February 5th to share stories on how we’re using social media for good. But it’s not just for one day. It’s up to all of us to reclaim social media for good. From your charity’s latest campaign to how you’re engaging your supporters, it’s an opportunity to amplify the stories that matter.
Here are a few ways to #ReclaimSocial for good during a pandemic.
Create a positive, diverse, and inclusive online community
It is important to build a positive, safe, and inclusive community.
Think of the channels you use. Make sure they represent your organisation’s values.
Your online presence should be an opportunity to promote your work, but it should also resonate with audiences. Pay attention to the language, the content, and the accessibility to make everyone feel welcome.
Listen to any concerns and be aware of any potential problems that you can prevent in your community.
Understand how misinformation is spread
Increasingly misinformation is spread through online channels that can even lead to polarisation and amplified negative responses.
It is important to understand and then educate others on how misinformation is spread.
Before sharing anything on your feed, make sure you validate its source. It’s tempting to retweet an article right after reading the title but it’s safer to spend time understanding what it is about before promoting it to your network. Twitter is even in the process of adding a prompt to encourage people to click on links before sharing them.
If you come across an article with strong claims that instantly make you want to share it, whether you agree with it or not, think twice. Explore additional sources, look at the broader narrative and aim for a more rational decision.
Be mindful of your social media consumption
It’s more important than ever to be mindful of your social media consumption especially as you’ve probably seen your screen time increasing over the last year.
It can be overwhelming to be surrounded by negative comments. Many organisations are dealing with sensitive issues and crisis communications is almost part of our routines now.
Being prepared for it can be helpful but there are still times that you need to take a break from it. Don’t be afraid to share your struggles when you feel like burning out.
Talk to a colleague, take a break and try to stay off the screens if you can even for a few hours.
Support anyone managing online communities
Start building an internal culture that encourages your team to share their struggles and find internal and external support.
Comms and marketing professionals may require training on how to handle the current situation. Encourage them to be open when they are struggling or provide peer support that can make the work less isolating and stressful.
Explore opportunities for wellbeing support for your team and check in with your colleagues regularly.
Building your crisis comms and responses to trolling
How an organisation responds online can have an immediate impact, either positively or negatively, particularly during times of heightened emotion, like a crisis. Building crisis comms processes into your planning will help teams come together more quickly and cohesively and act decisively.
Plan ahead – think about whether something you produce might elicit negative responses and be ready with informed, consistent messaging. Know where you’re going to post messaging (internally and externally) so you can refer people to it.
Know who to talk to – consider who needs to be informed, who needs to give approval for messages, who might be speaking to media and who will be posting responses.
Don’t forget internal comms – let your own people know what’s going on if there’s a crisis, particularly your social media team who will be on the direct receiving end of any trolling. Seeing something negative about your own organisation online can take its toll on staff morale but being clear about how you’re taking action can go a long way in mitigating the damage.
Call out for more ethical marketing tactics
Embedding ethical marketing and communications practices at every level, helps everything from building brand trust to ensuring a safe and fair environment for all. Charities Against Hate is a collective of more than 40 UK charities working together to combat online hate speech. Their Guide to Best Practice in Ethical Digital Marketing & Comms Practices highlights these eight principles:
Working towards more ethical policies and practices takes time. What’s important is being honest and transparent about the journey, both internally with staff to make sure they fully understand the principles of what you’re working towards, and externally with audiences to demonstrate you’re listening and making positive changes.
Negativity on social media should not be put up with. Posting positive, informative and supportive content is one of the most effective ways to counteract and drown out hate and negativity.
So take part in #ReclaimSocial and help make social media a safer, happier place.
- #ReclaimSocial is a global campaign promoting positivity on social media.
- Charities Against Hate is a group of UK charities working together to produce practical recommendations and guidance to help prevent online hate.
- Stop Hate UK is one of the leading national organisations working to challenge all forms of Hate Crime and discrimination.
- Galop supports all LGBT+ people who’ve experienced hate crime, domestic abuse or sexual violence.
- Crisis comms plan template.
- Wellbeing guide for charity communicators.
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