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Social Media in a Global Crisis: Your Pivot Plan in Uncertain Times

New world, new strategy


A global crisis can strike at any time, but it’s key for your brand to continue to communicate to audiences during the length of the crisis. A global crisis isn’t something that’s caused by your brand, but affects your brand’s business, operations and community. This means when crisis strikes, you have to reevaluate your social media strategy to ensure you’re sharing appropriate content with your audience.

This guide covers how to pivot, specifically by industry, to continue to engage with audiences during a global crisis. Not only will this guide give you strategy pointers, but you’ll see what other brands in your industry have done and how to use Sprout to easily adapt to a new social media plan. 

Section 1


Focus your social media strategy on customer care and empowering your audiences to use your product. Think free trials that can showcase your product in new ways to help your audiences adjust to less-than-ideal circumstances.

 Let’s look at Trello. This SaaS company switched up their online social presence by providing free sample boards for #remotework teams to use. They showed how their teams were using these boards and provided thought-leadership based on remote work guidelines.

How can you pivot like Trello? During a global crisis, many users rethink which subscriptions and services to keep as they rework budgets. Using Sprout’s Smart Inbox to engage quickly and often with customers and prospects to provide exceptional social customer care and show how your features actually assist users in good times and bad can keep your customers coming back, no matter the circumstances.

Section 2


Regardless of your nonprofit organization’s focus, your social media strategy should hone in on inspiring people to take action. You can do this through videos and behind-the-scenes insights on how your organization is giving back or operating differently based on the circumstances.

Let’s look at Common Pantry. This Chicago nonprofit meets emergency needs by providing healthy food, kinship and support to overcome poverty-related challenges. Common Pantry took to social to show how they’re functioning behind the scenes as they remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue to help the community.

How can you pivot like Common Pantry? Remaining open to serve healthy food during a pandemic meant a new way of doing business for Common Pantry. By using Tagging in Sprout, insights are formed around which content garners the most attention and inspires audiences to take action, so your cause still receives the support you need.

Section 3



Your goal is to make a connection with your customers through social and paid campaigns. By keeping this connection, you can ensure your consumers are purchasing your products and becoming advocates for your brand. Your social media strategy should focus on how to maintain that human connection to keep your advocates feeling close to you.

Let’s look at Glossier. This beauty company made the difficult decision to close the doors for all of their brick and mortar locations during the pandemic. Their CEO posted a message on their Instagram account and encouraged their customers to connect with them on social and through their online retail shop.

How can you pivot like Glossier? In the midst of a pandemic that forced populations to social distance and non-essential businesses to close, many consumers wanted to know if they could still access the products they loved. With Chatbots, brands can quickly answer frequently asked questions so consumers can easily receive information on changing store hours, closed locations and online shops. With Chatbots in place, your customer care team can focus on the most pressing issues.

Section 4

Higher Education


Social media is a great way to broadcast updates and alerts about what your university is up to. Whether your students in different departments are engaging in activities in the community, tackling innovative ideas or changing dining hall hours,students, faculty, parents and staff look to get updated via social.

Let’s look at Trinity College. While the school sent all students home for the semester during the COVID-19 pandemic, they took to social to start promoting their Student Emergency & Equity Fund. This fund provides students with financial assistance for emergency expenses – think textbooks, medications, and food insecurity. 

How can you pivot like Trinity College? The Student Emergency & Equity Fund applied to all students on campus, regardless of the program the students were enrolled in. A tool like Sprout’s Shared Content Calendar enables higher ed social teams to see posts across departments and ensure students campus-wide get the same information and access to resources.

Section 5



Your social media strategy centers around education and keeping the public informed about how to best take care of themselves. Healthcare can be scary for a lot of people due to a lack of education. Use social to show the more human side of medicine and alleviate the fears of your patients.

Let’s look at Steward Health. During the pandemic, Steward took to Facebook to not only thank the employees, doctors and nurses working around the clock, but also to educate followers about the current health crisis. Steward Health published an article providing details on COVID-19, like how the disease is transmitted. They also took time to share their own plans for treating patients and mitigating the spread.

How can you pivot like Steward Health? With a pandemic like COVID-19, misinformation was rampant on social about identifying and treating the disease. With ViralPost, Steward determined when their audience interacted the most with their content to ensure accurate information about COVID-19 was shared at a time that would reach the largest segment of the audience. 

Section 6

Real Estate


Social provides an outlet for future home buyers to read success stories, testimonials about popular realtors, home buying tips and even renovation ideas. Potential buyers look to see the presence a real estate company has in a community, so they know who to invest their trust in when it comes to buying.

Let’s look at Kettler Co. Real Estate Group. This national property management firm took to its Instagram account to promote online home buyer’s classes, showed what it might look like to close on a house during quarantine and how the organization is supporting local businesses in their area during the pandemic.

How can you pivot like Kettler? Using Sprout’s Group Report, Kettler could analyze the impressions and engagements during their switch in content to determine what resonated with future home buyers. They could see which content had the most engagements after the start of the pandemic, so they knew which messages to continue sharing. 

Section 7



Use social to engage with your constituents and educate them about new policies and happenings under your group’s jurisdiction. Government agencies that take to social have a unique opportunity to connect with their citizens, showing that they’re invested in the experiences of the citizens and that their care is a top priority.

Let’s look at the City of Las Vegas. The social team switched gears to detail new policies about food and alcohol delivery in the city and posted the latest information about developments about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affects residents. The city also took to Instagram to share more information about available grants for citizens to access for assistance.

How can you pivot like the City of Las Vegas? The social team had to tap into what conversations constituents were having about how state and citywide policies were affecting them. By using Advanced Listening, the social team could determine which new orders to highlight and how citizens could access food and other services.

Section 8



While social can pose different challenges for the finance industry with regulations on what information can and can’t be shared, financial institutions are in a unique position to provide details about financial services, grants and loans to help their customers understand the options available to them.

Let’s look at Bank of America. The brand focused on helping small businesses with its Paycheck Protection Program to ensure small business owners didn’t need to worry about money during the pandemic. Bank of America also started promoting learning resources to help educate their audiences on financial best practices.

How can you pivot like Bank of America? Topics like finances and financial assistance are big areas of concern during a pandemic. Brands in the finance industry can use Sprout’s Smart Inbox to quickly respond to questions about grants, loans and other financial services.


Section 9



Hospitality on social is the concierge guests never knew they needed. Hotels can use social to promote their amenities and also the area where they’re located. Guests look to social to leave reviews and send in inquiries about their stays and location – and the hotel can act as a great resource to provide these details.

Let’s look at Hyatt. The social team promoted messages around the brand’s longevity and confidently stated they would see their guests again soon.  They also shared more educational posts to ensure those who are staying in their hotels know how to prepare for their next visit.

How can you pivot like Hyatt? During a pandemic that deeply affected the travel industry, guests will have a lot of similar questions about pre-scheduled hotel stays. Use Chatbots to quickly answer these FAQs so your customer care agents are available to handle more complicated requests. 

Section 10

Food & Beverage


A global crisis might not be the best time to share your dine-in only specials. Instead, use social to start conversations and collaborate with other institutions to donate food, partner on meal kits and provide insight into how your customers can still enjoy the services you offer.

Let’s look at Brewdog. This Scotland-based brewery and pub chain launched online bars where patrons could watch live shows with bands and comedians, participate in a live beer tasting with Brewdog’s co-founders and win giveaways and other exclusive merch. Their Instagram stories provided details about the online bars, how to sign up and provided details on how to still access Brewdog’s products during the pandemic.

How can you pivot like Brewdog? In order to know what their audience needed, Brewdog had to first understand what they were missing during the quarantine. Brand Keywords helped them track conversations about the brand and learn that consumers were missing the socialization and entertainment they used to get at bars and brew pubs.