Empathetic Social Media During a Pandemic

As was the theme in 2020, many organisations pivoted to creating online content for social media that could be consumed from home. In November, Erin Burke, Communications and Events Officer, and Laura Paton, Digital Content Officer, talked to the SHSMG about how the Scottish Civic Trust (SCT) adapted to these new challenges.

With most people sending much of their time indoors, SCT encouraged people to look out their windows and send them photos of the view as part of the #WhatsOotMaWindae campaign. This allowed the team to continue to fulfil their mission to celebrate Scotland’s built environment, connect with their community AND help people through a difficult period of self-isolation and social distancing. As a result, over 70 photos were submitted and their social media reach increased by 100% across all social platforms.

SCT also coordinate Doors Open Days, Scotland’s largest free festival that celebrates heritage and the built environment.  Normally, Doors Open Days offers free access to over a thousand venues across the country every September, something they couldn’t really do in 2020. Instead, they pivoted towards creating Digital Doors Open Days to bring people indoors virtually. They also complimented the festival with #IfTheseWallsCouldTalkDOD, which invited followers to tell SCT about a building or place they love by sharing a photo, interesting tidbit or favourite memory. Audiences shared over 30 memories and stories with #IfTheseWallsCouldTalkDOD and social media reach increased by approximately 40% across all social platforms.

Erin and Laura’s advice for people trying to connect with their social media audience in a pandemic include:

1. Keep it simple

When asking for audience involvement, keep the “instructions” simple and straightforward. There’s no need to overcomplicate things – especially during such stressful times.

2. Consider context

Be clear about how your content is relevant, useful and valuable to audiences. Talking about Scotland’s built heritage whilst in the middle of a pandemic could appear out of touch, but when framed through the #WhatsOotMaWindae campaign Scotland’s buildings became a fun and powerful topic for audiences to connect around.

3. Be human

Don’t be afraid to remind people that there’s a person behind the social media account. SCT staff shared their own working-from-home views before asking members of the public to do the same.

4. Offer something in return

This doesn’t have to be cash, t-shirt or some kind of voucher. If you shared a photo as part of the campaign, SCT offered to write about the architecture in the shot.

5. Keep the legacy in mind

What happens when it’s all over? The content gathered from #WhatsOotMaWindae now forms part of the SCT website, allowing more content to be steadily drip fed as people continue to work from home. It also means that people who aren’t on social media aren’t missing out.

Due to the popularity of #IfTheseWallsCouldTalkDOD, the campaign continues on social media, sharing fascinating facts and heart-warming memories about iconic Scottish venues. Be sure to connect with Doors Open Days on social media to share your favourite spots and stories!

If you have any questions about the campaigns or empathetic social media, feel free to contact Erin at Erin.Burke@scottishcivictrust.org.uk or Laura at Laura.Paton@scottishcivictrust.org.uk.

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