The Role of Social Media in a Global Pandemic (for Purpose-led Organisations)

B2C - Brand Strategy
B2B - Brand Strategy
Social Media Insights
Social Media Strategy
Social Community Management
Social Media Content

The global pandemic and its far-reaching effects have caused a huge amount of uncertainty and anxiety across the world, and whilst some countries may be starting to ease various restrictions, the new ‘normal’ that we are to adopt is going to continue to have huge implications for large parts of our lives. Although we may have little control over the situation at hand, we can control and plan how we choose to respond.

In the same way that individuals are having to navigate through these choppy waters, purpose-led organisations (including the charity sector), are also working out how to manage, adapt and plan for the future amid a global crisis. The impact on many charities is going to be significant, and in many cases the people that these organisations are helping are the ones that will need support more than ever. Many purpose-led organisations are on the front lines of the response to the pandemic and are having to adapt very quickly. In a time of crisis, when resources are stretched and the work is incredibly vital, social media may seem like one of the least important areas to be concentrating on. However, it can play a crucial role in uncertain times like these, and even offer opportunities.

The way we connect has changed, and this environment has created a number of interesting behaviours and opportunities. With less in-person interactions, social media has increasingly become a key space to meet likeminded people with shared experiences and to foster community. By building and establishing digital spaces, even when life returns to a sense of ‘normal’ and people start to go out into the real world, your organisation will have already established a strong community online, with the opportunity to build loyal long-term supporters.

So, how can social media help? The below tips will help purpose-led organisations to take stock of their social media presence, and the role it’s playing in their wider response to the pandemic.

1. Revisit Your Strategy

An unprecedented situation calls for a consideration of the opportunities that new digital strategies, channels, and ways of communicating can bring. It’s clear to see that in person interactions are quite possibly never going to be the same again, and social media brings with it the potential to reach and engage new and existing audiences. Although we may not know what the near future will hold, planning and recovery is an important factor to keep in mind for your social media and digital strategies. Take note of the way your audiences are communicating, and how you can support them by spending time on the platforms and regularly reviewing your analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t.

2. Keep Communicating

As well as your beneficiaries, make sure you’re reaching out to your supporters to check in. Everyone is struggling in some capacity through these times, don’t be afraid to ask your followers how they’re doing on social media. If you’re on Instagram, try using the question feature on Stories, or you could ask how people are doing with a poll on Twitter or LinkedIn. It will show a human side to your organisation and help to build connections and maintain support longer term.

Similarly, show your audience how the pandemic has affected your organisation, including your staff and beneficiaries, by sharing photos and videos on your organisation’s social media channels. This situation is affecting us all differently and by offering a behind-the-scenes window into your organisation, you‘ll be helping to build relationships with your supporters.

If your organisation also needs extra support during this time, let your followers know what you need. It’s clear from this situation that people are looking for ways to help, so reach out to your community if you need more donations, volunteers, etc. Make the ask clear and let them know exactly how to get involved.

3. Run Digital Events & Fundraisers

Take advantage of increased screen time and think of fun ways to move your usual in-person activity to online events, such as the Guinness World Record breaking virtual tea party run by Guide Dogs . Think outside the box, and run interactive virtual lunches or coffee mornings, Instagram takeovers, quizzes, etc. You could even experiment with running campaigns or events on different platforms such as Twitch or TikTok. Running a digital event will also provide the added benefit of being able to invite a wider audience, as there isn’t the usual geographic limitation, so you may even be able to increase the number of supporters that get involved.

4. Test New Features

Now is a great time to test out different features on social media. Most platforms have introduced new features as a reaction to the pandemic, for example Instagram’s latest tool which allows individuals to create personal fundraisers. Experiment with features you haven’t used before, such as Instagram or Facebook Live, to keep in touch with your audience and let them know what’s happening at your organisation. Try out some of the more interactive features, such as polls or questions on Instagram Stories. Find out what resonates most with your audience whilst they’re spending more time online. With people turning to online spaces for increased connection during these uncertain times, offering more opportunities for interaction with your supporters in these spaces is really important.

5. Bring Some Light Content into The Mix

This is a difficult time for many, and whilst your organisation will undoubtably have serious messaging that it needs to get across, try to inject some positive, happy or even funny content into your supporters’ social media feeds. Has your organisation reached any milestones (no matter how small) you can share? How are your beneficiaries or team looking after themselves through lockdown/ the pandemic? Mixing in some lighter, positive content will not only help to keep your community engaged, it’ll also help them feel good. A great example of spreading some positivity on social is Lightful’s recent #ReclaimSocial campaign.

In this uncertain and fast-moving time, take a minute to pause, evaluate and cease new opportunities to communicate more clearly and efficiently with those important to your cause. People are using social media to stay more connected, entertained and informed than ever before. Smart, focussed, and adaptive social media and digital strategies will help purpose-led organisations navigate and overcome this tricky time, meet their goals, stretch their budgets, and even find new audiences.

If you’d like to discuss any of these ideas, or are looking for help doing this, please reach out to