3 Tips for Handling Social Media During Challenging Times

Determining the goals for your accounts will help you refine your strategy going forward.
social media icons on phone

© Farknot Architect

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I let our brokerage’s social media account go silent for almost a month this summer after sharing content faithfully for nearly a year. I didn’t do it intentionally—I just did not know how to navigate this season of social justice, unrest, and the continuing pandemic in which we find ourselves. The rules for posting content seemed to have changed overnight, and I worried that anything we’d post would unintentionally offend our audience.

I wanted to get our business back online in the right way, so I asked experts in the field for their advice on a social media content strategy for today’s climate. I came away with three tips to help myself and others feel confident in our social media work during these challenging and ever-changing times.

Refine Your Message

Pat Williams, who founded the real estate marketing management firm CyberCletch, said in an email, we are not alone in feeling overwhelmed during this season. “Honestly, this has been the single most challenging social media time in my history of posting, and my business has been in operation since 2002,” she said.

One of the challenges real estate firms face is that a single post cannot represent the differing views of the agents in the firm—whereas individual agents can publish content on their own business pages and personal profiles that align with who they are.

To help avoid fallout from a post, Williams offered some general guidance to follow: Avoid posting about politics and choose your words carefully. Keeping those two tips in mind can help in this time when people, as Williams said, “are fierce in their beliefs.”

Instead of explicitly taking a stand that may vary from the agents in your firm, find different ways to share your message. “There are ways to say, ‘we support you and care about your well-being,’ without generating political fallout,” she said. “It might take a careful wordsmith and more than one set of eyes to see the statement from all possible angles.”

Remember, Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels are open forums, so be prepared for people to comment. Just make sure you provide a professional response if necessary. You’re still running a business, after all.

Remember Your Goal

It’s important to focus on why you post on social media. Coming back to your original reasons for starting your accounts will help determine your strategy during this time. While your brokerage may have many purposes for your account—such as growing your brand awareness or attracting new agents to your firm—focusing on your goals will help determine your content.

Vince Tornero, president of Wessler Media, a podcasting and social media firm in Columbus, Ohio, said the general goal of social media is for your audience to share your message online or offline. With so many events and discussions competing for attention these days, it is easy for our regularly scheduled content to get lost. To help you decide what message to send to your audience, Tornero said personifying your brand can help you determine how to react to situations that arise.

“If there's a breaking news event going on, everyone's attention will largely be on that event. So, you first, don't want to waste the time and effort to post content that people won't fully digest because their attention is elsewhere,” he said. “So, if people's minds are generally elsewhere, you won't get a great response from that content you posted during a pandemic, protests, riots, or other unrest.”

Secondly, he said, “If you are posting during a breaking news event, you may look like your content is just on autopilot and you're not really caring or thinking about what you're posting to your audience. Sometimes the best thing to say (or post) is nothing at all.”

Remember Your Values

Staying personable in your approach and sharing more of your story are methods Rebecca Donatelli, a residential agent with McDowell Homes Real Estate Services in Cleveland, Ohio, has taken with her content during this time. By using videos to talk to her followers and show them more of her day-to-day life, her audience can get to know her more as a person.

“I didn't want to share as much real estate–related content as I typically do, considering many people were not able to work during the quarantine,” said Donatelli, who hosts seminars teaching agents how they can utilize Instagram in their businesses. “In order to continue feeling connected to them, I shared more personal content that my followers could relate to, and frankly, to get to know me even better.”

Navigating these difficult times may cause us to rethink how we handle our content. We might want to close up our social media shop or join the trend of businesses showing their support or dissatisfaction with the causes highlighted in the media. While these statements may line up with your brand, it helps to remember the track record you set before the pandemic and the unrest.

As you ponder what to post, remember that your reputation among your followers began long before these past six months, Williams said.

“How much you care about the community you live and work in should have been demonstrated long before COVID-19 and the protests. It would have shown in the way you speak to your followers and the diversity of the images and content you shared,” she said.

Staying silent on social media channels does not need to happen to your brokerage as it did to mine. These challenging times have shaped all of us as we pivot and make changes to how we conduct business. Both your audience and your goals will help you refine your message. I’m venturing back out into social media murky waters with better clarity and insight, and you can too.

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