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Best Practices for Community Management in a Crisis

Khoros Staff

UPDATE: This blog was moved. Join the conversation now in our Customer Group Hub for Crisis Management Tools

In a time of crisis, community matters

In this time of crisis with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, digital engagement has become the primary channel for interactions. This represents a huge shift for many businesses while most employees are also under a tremendous amount of personal stress. At the same time, however, there has been an outpouring of people going out of their way to help their fellow humans n online communities.  A brand community is the best way to help your people help each other, and can substantially ease the load on other digital channels.

There are three 3 main reasons why now is the best time to focus on your online community. 

Provide the right people with the most accurate information.

A community is an easy way to quickly communicate relevant, accurate information across a wide variety of audiences. In addition, it is notoriously difficult to moderate misinformation on public, non-owned channels. With more granular permissions than public social networks, moderation tools for large scale conversations, and a focus towards collaboration-first, it is much easier to both produce more accurate communication AND control inaccurate information in a brand community.  Finally, communities are a better way to get your information found by customers who are searching for answers: about 62% of traffic in an established community comes from SEO.

Communities are live and living

Community content is built around collaboration. This means people can ask questions, contribute information, and live updates can occur. As an added benefit, the more activity a community thread has - the higher the search ranking is! Instead of fragmenting your information, focusing on your community actually does the opposite.  

And easy to embed all over the place

With content syndication, APIs, and mobile SDKs, you can link all your various audiences together to collaborate in the community easily by embedding community content wherever you want. Communities are a well-documented way to reduce inbound calls, and that is especially true in times of crisis when the vast majority of people have the same question - and need it answered right now. 

Tips for Managing Crises in a Community

There are many things you can do right away to start interactive discussions that have all the outlined benefits.  Here are a few practical examples.

Create a dedicated Crisis Space

First, find out if anyone else in your company, like Marketing or Corporate Communications (PR), is creating a blog or news release. You will want to cross-link with this in your key community post, and probably leverage a lot of the same text (but not an exact copy). The best solution is to agree on a single blog on the Community because of the way community posts generate better search results.  

TIP: Coordinate internally - if possible in an internal community. 

JacobBo_0-1584397686795.png

 

Khoros internal group hub for the current crisis.

With many employees distributed to work from home, now is the time to invest in an internal community, or renew the focus on one. 

 

TIP: Create a set of minimal content for critical conversations

Here are some of the top tactics we have gathered (and implemented) to populate the space and organize content. 

  • Group Hub - create a COVID19 Crisis Management hub in your News & Announcements add a banner to Community Home
    • Move all related Topics/posts to this group hub.
    • Search Description, tags, labels, and keywords are very important, so align on a few to start with and try to limit their usage elsewhere.
    • Product Coaching session available now
  • Blog - COVID19 Response (Example: Southwest Blog)
    • The tone should be sympathetic yet concise; focus on the facts.
    • Recommendations: You may want to turn off comments or direct comments to a separate forum or TKB.  It makes it easier to manage large volumes in a single place and Posts are the easiest, 
  • Post
    • Create a post in question format
  • TKB (Knowledgebase)
    • Review all incoming questions and update FAQs as needed
    • Create FAQs and nominate current Accepted Solutions (if applicable)
  • Promoted Search

 

Now, promote the space

Once you have your crisis space, promote it prominently on your Contact Us page, the global home page, banners on digital properties, social campaigns to highlight community as a channel, and/or put community as an option in your inbound call automated responses (IVR).

JacobBo_1-1584397686848.png

 

TIP: Create an announcement and link to the Group Hub

 

Email once and allow optional updates via subscription (avoid spamming your audience). People may have subscribed to your blog, but they didn’t subscribe to the daily coronavirus updates of 250 companies - which is what we are all getting right now. It makes finding important information harder, and that adds stress that nobody needs.

TIP: Put your community front and center

 

The community is often relegated to a single word under the Support or Resources section in the footer of the site.  Now is the time to change that. You can galvanize customers AND your internal resources by making the community front and center in your own space. 

TIP: Pin or float important updates to the top of a page or dedicated space. 

 

This is a popular feature in forums for when solutions are verified, and it can work the same way in a crisis to make the best content also the most visible. 

JacobBo_2-1584397686912.png

 

Keep Calm and Moderate On

TIP: Set up a filter and moderation rule to funnel incoming crisis-related questions to one place/person. 

Conversations always seem to go better when you give them a little format and control. It is also easier to limit misinformation by using sophisticated Roles. Here are a few examples of flexible discussions you can have on Communities that can make it easier to disseminate information to large groups of people and still enable interactive discussion:

 

  • Focus Groups: Everyone can talk, but membership is limited to experts
  • Q&A Panel: Everyone can watch, but very few can answer, and only a select audience can ask questions (e.g. customers only)
  • AMA (Ask Me Anything): Host a expert or two to answer questions, but everyone can ask and also upvote comments or answers
  • Roundtable: Only the community owners can ask questions or post new topics, and only community members can respond. 

  • Open Forum: Everyone can ask and post responses - this is if you want to open up discussion as much as possible.

TIP: Super Users are your greatest asset in a crisis

What I love about communities are how they are built by people who love to help. You should be tapping into these people and looking at them as an extension of your team early on. 

  • Loop them in early and provide them an early warning checklist
  • Ask them to tag discussions and nominate Accepted Solutions 
  • Give those that are trusted and have proven their responsibility, permission to move posts into the Group Hub
  • Give them an internal contact to escalate questions to quickly

 

AND MAKE SURE TO RECOGNIZE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS! We have an extensive set of content about this if you want to read more. 

TIP: Agents need guidance and proactive content 

 

Provide them a scripted post with instructions to customers and link to the COVID19 blog and then have them tag all conversations with the same tags. 

TIP: Relax your normal rules a bit

 

People are stressed, and sometimes that leads to bad behavior. It’s ok to let it slide a bit for the circumstances. This thread discusses it pretty well. 

 

Conclusion and other resources:

My name may be on this blog, but a ton of people across Khoros have added insights here @ a bunch of people. For me, it has been a practical application of nearly everything I wrote here. We also expect this content to grow rapidly, so stay tuned and subscribe to this group hub. 

 

Other interesting links I found along the way.

 

  • Cisco is providing free access/removing usage restrictions on its collaboration and security tools to better support remote workers.
  • Zoom is providing free access to all K-12 schools in the country.
  • For those of you who need to help your staff engage people digitally @The Community Roundtable has opened access (for free) to its Engagement Bundle - resources, reports, and case studies about how to improve engagement. Use the code: GODIGITAL
  • Airbnb has broadened its cancellation policy for global property bookings in between Mar 14 and Apr 14. 
  • Adobe is giving Creative Cloud free access to students and virtual classrooms:

  • LVMH to produce free hand sanitizer for French health authorities

  • Cultura 'offers' everyone super ideas to keep your kids busy while working from home. Community helpfulness at its best!

 

What Next?

This is uncharted territory for all of us, and we are still learning. Do you have anything you want to add? Please comment

 

3 Comments
Khoros Staff

For our clients using the Community solution (and you aren't yet using Care in conjunction with it), take advantage of setting up Content Filters to monitor important terms, phrases, or mentions of COVID-19. 

Also, if you're looking for initiatives to keep your community engaged, or increase engagement, check out my recommendations HERE!

New Commentator

Here are two amazing offers by companies: 

 

Vincit California - Free Digitalization & Ecommerce Roadmap

Struggling small businesses can apply and receive a customized ecommerce strategy, design & technical advice and free 1 on 1’s with ecommerce developers 

Apply here: http://vincit.com/pandemic-support

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Free promotional videos for small shops to get important information out to their community and how people can currently access their valuable products & services.

 

Apply here: https://thesparkhouse.com/support-local/

 

These services are something that struggling businesses would really benefit from and I know these companies are looking to help as many peoples as possible. 

 

Think they’d be great to add to your COVID-19 resources list.

New Commentator

I’ve stumbled across these COVID-19 deals. Would be a great addition to the list! 

 

ClarityWave is offering 3 months of free access to their employee engagement software. Their software helps businesses to ensure employees stay focused & engaged while working remotely. Apply here: https://www.claritywave.com/free-trial/


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