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Facebook releases 64-page guide for brands to connect, engage with audiences during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Facebook releases 64-page guide for brands to connect, engage with audiences during coronavirus (COVID-19) Blog Feature

Liz Moorehead

Director of Web & Interactive Content, Speaker, Host of 'Content Lab' Podcast

April 16th, 2020 min read

By a show of hands, how many digital marketers out there sometimes struggle to find the confidence that you're saying the right thing to your audience during the coronavirus pandemic?

You want to be there for your audience. You want to be supportive during this time of crisis. You want to strengthen and empower your audience. But when you sit down to craft the "perfect messaging" for that Facebook or Instagram post or story, your fingers twitch with hesitation.

Will our message be misconstrued as callously opportunistic?

Will we offend someone even though our intent is pure?

Should we even be saying anything at all?

Well, the folks at the Big Blue Fye olde Facebook — published a 64-page guide for brands that want to effectively engage and communicate with their audiences in the wake of COVID-19: 

"As we continue to find ways to help people navigate this difficult time and prevent the spread of coronavirus, one small step is sharing specific ways you can use Facebook and Instagram to bring people together during the crisis. We hope this resource helps you continue to inspire, educate and entertain the world."

The report is dense and filled with a ton of tips and best practices to keep in mind when attempting to reach your audiences on Facebook or Instagram — what follows are the most important highlights. 

No matter your brand, products, or services, remember... 

There are four key principles Facebook asks all brands to keep in mind while marketing and communicating during the coronavirus pandemic:

  1. Always take care of yourself first by focusing on the health and safety of your loved ones.
  2. When communicating, "share good values" through positive and inspirational messaging that is never false, but alway honest and authentic.
  3. If you have the means to do so, donate, give back, and contribute to charities that are currently on the front-lines of response to COVID-19 or those who are directly affected.
  4. Finally, any "wild idea you've had in the past" should be put on the table. Now is the time to be creative, think outside the box, and test out big ideas.

Facebook's coronavirus resource center

One of Facebook's largest initiatives surrounding this pandemic is to ensure they are doing their part to stop the spread of misinformation — and digital marketers can help by leveraging Facebook's coronavirus (COVID-19) information center page.

Through their partnerships with UNICEF, national ministries of health around the world, and the World Health Organization (WHO), Facebook is working hard to make sure anyone on their platform (including brands) are armed with accurate information about what is currently happening.

What meaningful content looks like

Consumers are more sensitive than ever before to brands that position themselves in opportunistic ways. For instance, the Fashion Nova team is currently under fire for marketing to potential buyers explicitly about spending their stimulus checks on their products.

Even the popular shoe brand, Rothy's, had to walk back a recent promotion on Instagram, where a purchase of shoes supplied masks, following backlash from their community.

With that in mind, Facebook has outlined the five qualities of meaningful content for brands to keep in mind. Meaningful content is:

  1. "Engaging, [sparking] authentic shares and back-and-forth discussion in the comments."
  2. "Relevant, [capturing] people's attention and is relevant to the topics they are seeking out."
  3. "Unique and original, created by you."
  4. "Consistent, [building] trust and guides your community to regularly return to your page."
  5. "Retentive, [of] high quality and 3+ minutes in length for videos to drive longer views of over 1 minute."

No matter what brands publish, however, it must always be in-line with Facebook's community standards and guidelines.

When going live on Instagram (IGTV)

Facebook encourages you to:

  1. Share how you're feeling or coping
  2. Answer questions from your audience
  3. Livestream a performance (if relevant)
  4. Teach a class, showcase a skill, or share services virtually
  5. Keep your community informed with an announcement
  6. Teach a how-to process relevant to your products or services

When it comes to live-streaming, Facebook has a few best practices everyone should keep in mind:

  1. Live-streams that are 15 minutes or longer tend to work best, because it gives people time to join.
  2. Be conversational and casual. Going live is not the time or place for overly-produced setups. 
  3. Wireless mics improve audio quality, so you may want to use one.
  4. Have direct eye contact with the camera, since many of these live videos are shot "selfie-style."

When going live on Facebook

While many of the above best practices also apply to going live on Instagram, there are a few deviations to remember when going live on Facebook:

  1. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes to allow people to join (rather than 15 minutes, like with IGTV).
  2. The live video session limit on Facebook is four hours. If you're using Live Producer, the limit is eight hours.
  3. You may want to consider asking the audience to stream your live content to their TV, depending on what it is and the quality. For example, a live performance may be better suited to a television set.

If you manage a Facebook group

At IMPACT, we have IMPACT Elite (which has over 6,000 members), so this section was particularly relevant to us. Best practices and suggestions during coronavirus for Facebook group admins include:

  1. Keep your group safe with moderated membership and (if needed) a post approval process.
  2. Use the groups as a place for feedback, suggestions, and input.
  3. You can also go live in a group to provide updates.
  4. You can also keep engagement going with recurring questions, quotes, or interactive challenges for your members.

Read Facebook's full coronavirus guide

For more information on these best practices, as well as guidance on leveraging ads, branded content, subscriptions, and more on Facebook during the pandemic, please view Facebook's full 64-page global coronavirus resource guide. In addition to best practices, it includes step-by-step instructions (in most cases) on how to make the most out of the Facebook platform.

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