The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way organizations execute their social media plans. Posting without a mindfulness of the trending topics and conversations can cause organizations to appear insensitive and tone-deaf. The current social media environment has caused non-profit marketers to re-evaluate their content aware of the acute conversations being had on every channel, at a global level.
The marketing team of the international nonprofit, Water.org, was quick to evaluate their social content plans as the COVID-19 pandemic spread on and offline in early 2020. Water.org’s Senior Content Creator, Moree Lambeth explains.
“As a non-profit working in the water and sanitation sector, we knew our organization had reason to join the conversation given access to safe water enables handwashing which is a first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19. However, we were mindful of the best practices that suggest brands and organizations not post about every issue or trending event so to avoid piggybacking via hollow, void content. We wanted to make it clear to our followers the connection between our work and how that helps prevent the spread of disease and impacts the health of families around the world. To do this, we approached it in a way that remained true to how we collect and deliver content—thoughtful, relevant, and authentic.
We evaluated our planned content for the year and were able to maintain some the planned material as it highlighted how the organization’s work directly aligns with the current social conversations. We chose to abandon anything that did not give users a clear reason for why Water.org’s content was in their feed that day. While the sweep scrapped some well-crafted content, our team maintained some of our top-performing, inspirational content that offers a perspective of seeing the glass half full. We balanced this with posts that spoke specifically to why and how we had something to share with our followers. For Example:
When it comes to social issues not directly tied to our work, we believe if we cannot offer users something they do not already know or a way to help the issue, then it is best to allow breathing room for the voices who can share such content. Each day we make sure what we post is timely, sensitive, relevant, and informative.”
Here’s how Water.org ensured their content to be informative, demonstrated timely action and impact, and offered users the opportunity to help.
1) Water.org provided followers with video content on how the work of Water.org is directly tied to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
- Video collaboration with Sony artists Marc Scibilia and voice over by Water.org co-founder Matt Damon
- Through social media they reminded their supporters of the more than 29 million people who already have access to safe water and sanitation and thus a way to safeguard their families from COVID-19:
2) Website articles offered specific examples of how the communities served by Water.org were being impacted and offered users ways to help.
- The team worked with in-country staff and partners to create content for users to see the real-time impact COVID-19 is having in the countries where they work. They also worked with the organization’s leadership to craft articles on how Water.org and its partners work to empower people in poverty with safe water to protect and save lives.
3) Social media content highlighted the actions of Water.org to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Their social media content highlighted Water.org’s participation in the World Leaders Call-to-Action on COVID-19. In conjunction with Heads of State, Government, and leaders from United Nations agencies, International Financial Institutions, civil society, private sector and research and learning, Water.org committed to the call and shared this through social media content, expressing the global need to prioritize water, sanitation and hygiene in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the above mix of content the team at Water.org maintained some of their core fundraising content like their annual Mother’s Day campaign, however the messages reminded users of the connection access to safe water has to improving health for families in need.
Water.org’s thoughtful approach to content creation suggests that, at all times, we must be thoughtful and aware. We must remember the world is dealing with a global health pandemic and important social conversations. Content that considers the user experience on and offline and is created with empathy, sensitivity, and relevance.
Water.org’s social channels can be viewed at:
Water.org is a global nonprofit organization working to bring water and sanitation to the world. We want to make it safe, accessible, and cost-effective.
Water.org helps people get access to safe water and sanitation through affordable financing, such as small loans. We give our everything every day to empower people in need with these life-changing resources – giving women hope, children health and families a bright future.