Advice from Twitter on how to, and not to, tweet during coronavirus

Twitter Next global head Alex Josephson gives brands his two cents.

NEW YORK: It shouldn’t have to be said, but here’s some common-sense advice for brands during coronavirus: Do not use the pandemic as a marketing opportunity. 

“We do not recommend brands opportunistically linking themselves to a health scare,” Twitter Next global head Alex Josephson wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. Twitter Next is the strategic arm of Twitter Marketing, which provides insights and advice to business partners.

COVID-19 is being tweeted about every 45 milliseconds on Twitter, and #Coronavirus is the second-most-used hashtag of 2020, according to Josephson. Verified users are 2.4 times more likely to participate in COVID-19 conversations than non-verified accounts, and 75% of COVID-19-related Tweets are retweets, he added.

Twitter has seen non-COVID-19 positive stories capture people’s attention, because “good things continue to happen, despite the context right now,” Josephson explained. “Brands should continue to connect with and celebrate these moments, as and when appropriate.”

That could include events, trends and occasions from International Women’s Day to sports, TV premieres and culture. Sharing positive stories brings a brand community on Twitter together in a positive way, noted Josephson.

Brands should not be afraid of tweets that offer light distraction and entertainment, but should avoid anything snarky or sarcastic. 

“So long as you are thoughtful with copy and tone, you can contribute, and remember it’s better to stay in your lane and be true to your brand than to associate with the virus,” Josephson wrote.

Some brands absolutely should tweet about how their businesses and customers are affected by the virus. For instance, travel and finance companies can use Twitter to interact one-on-one with customers and to broadcast initiatives they are launching to address the issue. 

“It’s important to listen and understand the concerns your customers have and to address them, as best you can,” wrote Josephson. “Demonstrating you’re doing your best in uncertain times can go a long way.”

Brands that have useful and reliable information that might help people navigate the uncertainty, or keep people calm, should share it. For instance, brands can keep the public updated on product supply to stop people from panic buying.  

And, as always on Twitter, sometimes it’s better not to say anything at all.

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