Facebook's stated mission is to "bring people closer together," but never before have people needed social media so much to dissolve the walls and miles separating them from loved ones. Social media communicators require tools to ensure their audiences are connected, supported, entertained and—perhaps most crucial amid the pandemic—receiving truthful, accurate health information.
To meet the challenges of entertaining, informing and connecting social media users, the major platforms have unrolled a number of features and hubs for COVID-related content. Here are updates for professional communicators and use cases for each platform's offerings.
Why scroll alone, when you can scroll social-distance style? Instagram has accelerated the rollout of Co-Watching to allow for joint enjoyment of content on the platform. The company is also taking a number of steps to help prevent the spread of coronavirus misinformation.
Co-Watching—The new feature allows users to view content together while in an Instagram video chat.
- The Donation sticker for Stories has been unrolled in more countries and a linked COVID-19 tab will make it easier to find COVID-relief causes to donate to.
- The “Stay Home” sticker is used to collate individual Stories into a single Story at the top of the feed so that users can commiserate with cooped-up friends.
- A new header in countries experiencing the worst of the outbreak directs users to relevant health authorities.
- COVID-19 accounts will be removed from featured recommendations unless they are sourced from credible health organizations.
- Third-party fact checkers will flag false posts supporting conspiracy theories and myths, which will be down-ranked and removed from the Explore and hashtag pages.
- The platform will pull “misleading ads for products that refer to COVID-19 in ways intended to create urgency, guarantee cures or prevent people from contracting it.”
- In a move likely intended to prevent shortages of medical supplies for health care workers, Instagram has, for the moment, banned ads and branded content that promote COVID-19 medical supplies like face masks.
- The platform has removed the ability to search for COVID-19 AR filters unless they are sourced from a reliable health organization.
Takeaways: Unless you run social at a credible public health organization, Instagram is not the place to offer health advice. Likewise, e-commerce ads promising miracle cures or needed medical supplies will not fly. However, nonprofit communicators and those working at organizations who are fundraising for COVID-19 relief will find the Donate stickers particularly useful. Meanwhile, the Stay Home stickers are a great way to build community and source user-generated content from followers and employees.
The company said that from March 21-22 it had hit an all-time record in global number of weekend saves and searches. In the U.S., the use of Pinterest’s Send a Pin feature was up by over 30 percent. In response, Pinterest accelerated the timeline for a new feature released March 24 in the U.S. and U.K.
Today Tab—Pinterest’s new tab, located at the top of the home feed in the app:
- Features editorial staff-curated topics and trending Pins, offering inspiration for projects and emotional support for those stuck at home.
- Refreshes daily with meal prep ideas, exercise routines, lesson plans, work-from-home advice, stress relief and other COVID-adjacent topics.
- Might soon feature publishers and influencers (Pinterest Creators), per Adweek's Scott Nover.
- The platform has enabled “compassionate search,” which, for terms like “stress relief,” will offer verified content from healthcare experts.
- Searching for “coronavirus” returns a limited list of results that are pre-vetted by Pinterest and its health organization partners (World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control) to minimize misinformation.
- Users can mark questionable Pins as “health misinformation.”
Takeaways: Communicators should feel empowered to re-share inspirational Pins with audiences, while gathering their own ideas for providing value to audiences and maintaining those relationships during tough times. Does your company have employees working from home who can share parenting advice, lighthearted anecdotes or quick recipes? Or maybe your boss has a motto or mindset that helps your team get going on rough days (read: all of them right now). Pinterest could act as an idea pipeline and barometer for what is resonating with quarantined people yearning for useful and entertaining content.
In response to millennials’ anxiety around coronavirus, the platform accelerated a preplanned mental wellness initiative in the form of its “Here for You” tool, Snapchat told Axios’ Sara Fischer. Broader mental health resources will be available starting March 26, with coronavirus-specific content rolling out the following week.
“Here for You” Tab—Within its search bar, the feature pulls vetted health expert content when users input terms related to anxiety, depression, suicide and other mental health issues.
- Snapchat is working with WHO to develop custom content that answers’ Snapchatters’ questions about the virus.
- A nationwide Snap filter offers WHO-sourced medical advice.
- Snapchat’s mental health partners include Active Minds, Because of You, Crisis Text Line, Seize the Awkward, Young Minds, The Samaritans and The Diana Award.
Takeaways: Keep an eye out for Snapchat’s coronavirus-specific resources, as they may offer insight into the exact questions (i.e., pain points) on its users’ minds. This could inform your content strategy as relates to millennials and Gen Z audiences in particular.
Twitter is actively promoting its Live Brand Studio offering, which has been in play since 2018.
Live Brand Studio—Twitter’s paid live streaming service offering includes:
- Access to live analytics
- A ‘Live Cut’ feature that allows quick sizzle reels with broadcast highlights
- Integration with third-party encoding software and hardware
- On-demand and recap features for attendees
- Opportunities for audiences to interact in real time
- Twitter has launched a crisis communications FAQ.
- The blue bird is sharing best-of COVID-related brand communications examples via its Twitter Marketing (@TwitterMktg) account.
- Early arrivals to Twitter’s shortlist included Chipotle for its Zoom lunches, Disney+ offering up “Frozen 2” for kids at home to play on repeat and Guinness’ Give Back Fund.
Takeaways: While your brand may not have the ad budget to partner directly with Twitter via its Brand Studio, it should probably be looking into some kind of virtual events process. Add Brand Studio to your list of comparison research; likewise, check Twitter’s Marketing account and Company blog periodically for inspiration when you’re feeling stuck.
Follow Sophie: @SophieMaerowitz