With the coronavirus forcing almost everyone to work, learn, and socialize remotely, people are spending more time than ever on the Internet. This means that what you do and say online will be viewed by a much larger audience than ever before—and one with more free time too. To keep your online reputation looking good during this crisis (so that it can still be an asset to you when this is all over), you need to follow certain guidelines.
Make sure you’re not spreading incorrect information
Nearly 30% of Americans are misinformed about the coronavirus. For example, 26% of people think COVID-19 will die off in warmer weather, and another 10% believe that they can avoid getting sick if they rinse their nose with a saline solution. These misconceptions are especially prominent on social media. In fact, the more time individuals spend on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the more likely they are to believe coronavirus myths.
To keep people safe—and avoid looking ignorant—don’t share the latest conspiracy theories you saw on Twitter, even if you’re just doing it ironically. Instead, you should only post information about the disease that comes from trusted sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), or your local health department.
Publish content that people want to hear right now
With people cooped up in their homes, the need for good content is growing. To keep yourself relevant—and your content at the top of the search results for your name—during these uncertain times, you need to publish what people are looking for right now.
This means creating content that is:
- Uplifting—Because of the constant drumbeat of doom and gloom on most news outlets, people will especially appreciate you sharing a bit of good news, like the story of a 100-year-old veteran raising money for healthcare workers by walking in his backyard.
- Informative—Google has seen increasing searches lately for how to deal with working remotely. Sharing what has worked for you or advice from a long-time telecommuter will position you as a helpful resource.
- Useful— On Pinterest, searches for yeastless bread have risen 4,400% due to yeast shortages in stores. You could fill a great need by posting recipes made with easily found ingredients.
- Inspiring—For example, you could write an article on how your neighborhood has come together to safely deliver food and medicine to residents in the highest-risk groups.
Support and encourage others on social media
This is not the time for sarcasm or trying to win arguments on social media. Sarcasm is easy to misinterpret as meanness, and this never reflects well on you. To present yourself in the best light, you should be offering support and kindness.
Avoid making light of the virus
The anonymity of social media makes it easy to communicate in ways you wouldn’t if you were talking face to face. However, during this pandemic—and at all times, really—you need to resist the temptation to shame others or engage in virtue-signaling. It’s especially important to avoid talking about how the coronavirus isn’t that big of a deal for you or how other people are overreacting. Some individuals might be experiencing the disease themselves or have lost family members to it, and posts like this will only make you look insensitive.
That said, there’s no rule against levity during these challenging times. Just make sure that the humor you share appeals to everyone and doesn’t come at anyone’s expense.
Don’t get involved in political debates
Arguing online always makes you look bad. But, in these uncertain times, it can make you look even worse. This is because people dealing with economic uncertainty and fear want to see positive messaging, not petty fighting. As such, the usual us-vs-them political arguments sound especially tone-deaf right now.
Instead of engaging your followers with political rants, you’d be better off reaching out to them to show that you care.
Avoid posting anything that makes it look like you are ignoring social distancing orders
“People act out in many ways when they’re under extreme stress and we all are under extreme stress right now,” says Dr. Michael Lardon, a psychiatrist. One thing people are doing to ease their anxiety is to shame those who appear to be flouting social distance guidelines.
As such, to avoid being condemned for displaying bad pandemic etiquette, you need to be sure to follow the behavioral guidelines set forth by your local health department. For many people, this means wearing a face mask when you are in a public place (like in a grocery store or on public transit) and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other individuals.
Share your personal lockdown stories
To increase engagement with your content—and thereby push it up in your search results—you need to share content that makes a human connection with your audience.
Some of the most compelling stories shared online lately are those of people’s personal experience with the disease or with sheltering in place.
“During this period of illness, my wife (who has already fully recovered from the virus) has been scrambling to find whatever government benefits might be available to our family. My speaking/consulting/workshop business has dried up, I’m too sick to do anything at all right now, and we still have bills to pay. We’re digging into the savings like many families around the world.”—Mark Schaefer, keynote speaker, executive branding coach, marketing strategist, podcaster, and author
You can generate the same human connection by doing the following on social media:
- Talk about what you’re doing while at home with your family.
- Ask for recommendations for child-friendly movies, activities to keep kids entertained at home, easy meals to cook.
- Share strategies for dealing with pets or children while you work at home.
The coronavirus has caused most of us to rapidly transition to a more online lifestyle that includes working remotely, attending events via video conference, and being careful about what we share online. However, many of these newly acquired habits may remain once the crisis has passed now that so many organizations have invested in telecommuting technology—and have seen first hand the many advantages of working and learning online.
If you have questions about how to make your online reputation an asset in this hyper-online environment, feel free to call us for a complimentary consultation. We are always happy to provide advice.