In Times of Crisis, Social Media Does Have a Soul

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As I write this, it’s been one month. One month of home quarantine, one month working from home, one month home schooling, and one month straight up missing every single human I know. I hope you’re doing well and you’re finding ways to cope with life both personal and in business.

In previous posts, you’ve heard me talk about my neuroscience degree and how, for many years, I studied different aspects of neuroscience. One area that is of particular interest to me is how our brains are wired differently and how we use this wiring to handle the mental stress of daily life, in particular in younger children and adults. Outside of Overit, I have a podcast “The Better Mental Health for Kids Podcast” where I discuss various mental health topics. One topic that is frequently discussed is social media and how, when abused and overused, it can cause children and adults more harm than good.

Judging people, counting likes, false personas, and gratuitous sponsored ads are some of the things that can make social media a less than friendly environment. But right now? In this moment? Everything feels different. We’re not using social media to tear each other apart, we’re using it to come together.

Now more than ever we are yearning for human interaction. Isolation and quarantine has literally left us all to ourselves, and even introverted humans are feeling like a dose of face-to-face is warranted. That is what social media provides us — a way to interact with humans, on demand, and makes us feel like no matter how bored or alone we are, human beings are just a click away. Social media has brought the isolated world together, given us back some purpose, and made us feel more human and less like the technical robots people like me have been saying we would turn into if we kept engaging with social media. Nothing like a good crisis and quarantine to make a neuroscientist pivot and see the mental good in technology I felt was de-humanizing the world.

Because of the isolation and social withdrawal, humans are more fixated on social feeds and of course, more sensitive than they were a few months ago. Thus, if you are a business with a social media account, I urge all of you out there to use this time carefully and to effectively capture that sentiment, and let you brands’ soul shine, while social media is so positively popular. How do you do that?

Be Relevant

I see so many feeds that are continuing to post about business related stuff and services. And that’s okay, we need some of that to feel normal, but also pay attention to what is going on. How is your audience holding up? Have you checked in? Where are their heads at? If you ignore what is happening in the world, you risk upsetting or alienating people.

Be Positive

Amidst all of the horrible, sad things happening right now, any bit of positivity is needed and warranted. If you are a local brand, highlight positive things happening in your own backyard that will make people feel good about living where they do. Maybe it’s a local food drive or hospital, or stories about people on the front lines that are doing amazing courageous things. If you are a national brand then you have more of an ability to do this by picking states that are hit particularly hard and pointing out some of the good being done there. All of us want to feel good right now, so make sure you are contributing to that feeling.

Employee Takeovers

Make social media fun again. Most businesses are working from home and everyone is adjusting to that new and very different reality. Let your employees take turns posting/creating a story about their day at home and what they encounter. Create a hashtag that highlights this series and promote it across your channels. Not only can people relate to this but it gives you the opportunity to humanize your brand and staff in a way people will not have seen before.

Non Essential Business Stories

For businesses that have been forced to close temporarily, use this time to keep in daily contact with your customers and let them know what you are up to, how you are doing, and provide as many tips as you can related to your service. If you are a hairdresser, offer tips on how to trim your kids’ crazy hair, the best way to color your hair from home, etc.. Tell your customers how much you miss them, show them in different ways by organizing posts with your staff and team. I know it is hard given the particular stress you are under, but again, let your soul shine on social media.

It’s Not About You, Focus On Them

This is key for me. Under normal circumstances, a hefty dose of business centric posts are warranted. But now, all you should be doing is asking how everyone else is doing in some way. Before you post anything ask yourself this, does this post focus on us? If the answer is yes, don’t post it. Don’t worry about KPIs right now, they really don’t matter, in fact, they are irrelevant. Why? KPIs can only be compared when your baseline environment is the same and right now, things are far from the same. How can you possibly compare your social media metrics from March to those in December or January. You can’t. Engagement is everything right now, that is all you need to worry about, and nothing is less engaging than talking about yourself, your products, and your service.

Ask Questions

Use this time on social media to better understand who the people are that follow you and what matters to them. Ask them questions. Use the questions and polling features of social media to get to know how people are feeling and what is really on their mind. Even if you don’t get a lot of answers, just the fact that you are out there asking matters as it shows you care about what they are going through and at a minimum you are trying to understand and get a feel for what it is.

Do I think Mark Zuckerberg has gone so far from his original purpose with Facebook from bringing the world together to using those people to make billions of dollars…possibly. Is it his fault, maybe, maybe not. But for right now, Facebook and the other social media outlets are showing their valor and intended purpose of providing a way to bring humans together in a time where they are alone and isolated. So for now, I won’t worry too much about the psychological analyses of how social media usage affects our brains and I’ll just enjoy it. I urge you to do the same with your social media accounts and, in the words of Coming to America, “Let Your Soul Glo”.


Chris Fasano, Ph.D. is a Neuroscientist and Director of Digital Marketing for Overit.