A social media manager is vital to every company, especially during a crisis. Unfortunately, some companies choose that time to eliminate that role. Here’s why that’s a big mistake.

Businesses everywhere have been forced to press pause or at least scale back. Even those businesses operating online may be impacted by the financial hardship of their customers, disruptions in the supply chain, and myriad other concerns.

Cutting costs makes sense, of course, but many businesses make the mistake of starting off by cutting their marketing departments right off the bat—without thinking exactly about purpose, and benefit of each specific (and vital) role.

Social media managers, in particular, often are the first to be cut. But they should be a priority to keep on staff (or third-party contracts) whenever possible. They might even be more valuable than ever before.

In this post, we’re going to discuss why social media managers are necessary during a crisis and how to evaluate the ROI of social media if needed when making financial decisions and prioritizing funds.

Publicly Managing a Crisis as a Brand Is Tricky

I’ve personally worked with multiple business owners who are extremely talented at what they do and passionate about it. Many are even great as business owners … but they aren’t exactly the best at coming across well online.

I had one client who I practically begged to leave the social media engagement management to me. Why? Because his tone wasn’t coming across well online (partly due to a dry sense of humor, partly due to a language barrier). He was accidentally offending his customers.

Experienced social media managers can semi-double as public relations managers, customer service agents, and copywriters.

why you need social media managers during a crisis

Do business owners know how to walk the fine line of managing communications during an ongoing, politically controversial crisis? (Most of them don’t.)

A poorly-timed attempt at a joke right now could be enough to cause outrage from customers. Saying the wrong thing (or even neglecting to say the right thing) can greatly negatively impact a business both now and long-term.

Brands don’t want to come across as too opportunistic, but they also want to stay on message, too. The right balance in crisis communication is key.

Social media managers are likely familiar with handling crisis responses for a business, and ensure that a company is putting its best foot forward publicly regarding how they’re dealing with what’s going on.

Social Media Is the First Line of Defense

Customers are increasingly drawn to social media platforms during a crisis, turning to Facebook and sometimes Instagram. They’re looking for updates on their favorite businesses.

Social is essentially a business’s first line of defense against customer concerns and to share new updates. Users are checking in to see what’s going on on a brand’s social channels first.

In a crisis, a company absolutely needs a qualified, dedicated social media manager to handle it.

A company needs someone who is ready and able to respond quickly to a huge influx of both public comments and private messages, asking about order delays, questioning safety policies, and wondering how the crisis and its unfurling developments will impact you and them.

A company needs someone who can keep up—and who will do this well and with grace.

social media managers during a crisis

If a brand’s social media stops responding to its followers, people will take notice … and not just those whose questions go unanswered. People will perceive that company as being disinterested or overwhelmed and may start turning to the company’s seems-to-be-on-top-of-it competition instead.

Social Provides the Most Significant Interactions Right Now

It’s entirely possible that—for brick-and-mortar stores and even plenty of B2B offices—that in-person, face-to-face contact offered your most significant interactions before the crisis.

Even if that was true before, it’s no longer the case now.

Many businesses are operating on an online- and call-only basis, making social media a platform for the most direct and significant interactions with customers right now.

why social media managers are needed during a crisis

Social media allows a company to reach out to their followers and connect, both in a human way and in a way that can still drive sales or address customer concerns.

The example above is a great one. A user commented about how cloth face masks are clogging her pores and asking for a product recommendation. The owner responded promptly, starting a conversation with the customer. It’s a human connection and a useful one at the same time.

Companies need social media managers to stay on top of social management to facilitate this deep connection and engagement. Just a post in and of itself is not enough for a relationship with customers to thrive. (If anything, such random, rare posts come off as indifferent and tone-deaf during a crisis.)

Remember that during a crisis, people do want distractions. Especially if a crisis is global and requires everyone to stay in their home. Reminding people that you’re there and offering interesting content and discussion is a great way to build your relationship and stay at the forefront of their minds.

Having a social media manager that understands this very human longing for greater relationships and that can nurture them is essential.

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Social Media Is the Best Way to Keep Key Announcements Visible

If relevant, most companies likely have a small header on their site detailing how a current crisis is impacting their brand, process, or customers.

That header is a good thing to have, and it’s a decent first step in staying engaged with customers.

Social media, however, is often where customers look first. We all inherently know that social media is relevant and it’s updated and super-timely.

We all expect that brands will provide important updates here. Even if we’re getting emails (if we’re on the subscriber list, of course) from brands, we know that the social media posts may roll out faster, and they’re there for all to see.

example of a social media manager during a crisis

Strong social media managers know how to craft important announcements. They know which information an audience needs to see the second they go to that company’s Page.

They’ll know which post to pin to the top of the Page, whether  to update any of the business’s bioto reflect information related to the crisis. Social media managers even know whether a company’s contact methods should be altered. (They’ll likely realize, for example, that the in-office phone numbers shouldn’t be listed if no one is in the office, which everyone else would likely forget.)

Knowing what information is needed, where to place it, and how to keep it visible without overwhelming a business’s audience is a social media manager’s jam.

A company absolutely must want to keep a social media manager on board.

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How to Assess the ROI of Your Social Media Manager

Calculating the ROI of a social media manager is exceptionally tricky. You can’t always measure the work we’re doing work in clear dollar amounts.

If we’re running ad campaigns, a company can clearly see that the ROI from the ad campaigns. (Remember when doing this to account for the customer’s lifetime value, and not just their first-time purchase; if the average customer spends $500 with a company over their lifetime, that’s the metric that the company will want to look at.)

Consider the answers to the following questions when pitching your ROI as a social media manager to a company. (If you’re a business, you’ll want these answers to know the value of your social media manager.)

How many impressions are your profiles and your posts getting daily? This can help you estimate the kind of reach you’re getting, and show you how potentially impactful your campaigns are.
How many clicks are you getting to your site or off-platform sites? This indicates relevance, and these users very well may go on to purchase. During a crisis, sales in certain sectors go down during hard economic times. Channels that continually drive new purchases should have priority.
How many people click through your social content or ads and purchase? Google Analytics can help you track this.
How much discussion are your clients’ customers having on their profile and how are they interacting with your clients’ posts? This can lead to more visibility and more relationship-building.
How many incoming messages are your clients’ profiles receiving and how are you as a social media manager handling this?

Social media is more often about long-term relationship building and nurturing than driving hard sales, so keep that in mind. Those long-term relationships are incredibly valuable, and companies should not cut them off now when you need them most.

In Conclusion

Social media managers provide vital services on a day-to-day basis, but their importance is essential during a crisis—especially the one we’re in now.

They make it easier for brands to interact in an appropriate, tactful way with their audience, keeping them both engaged and informed. Meanwhile, the company’s other team members can handle the chaos going on with everything else. A crisis is not the time for putting customer support or relationships on the back burner.

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