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Crisis Communication Meets Social Media

How Organisations Used Social Walls During the 2020 Pandemic

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Two people wearing face masks and greeting each other by tapping their elbows together.

I swear, we’re trying to move on from pandemic content. 😷🙊We really are. But we’ve also noticed that this crisis still has a huge impact on how businesses and organisations use social media and social walls.

So, we wanted to show you some of the Walls.io customers who were using social walls in meaningful ways to keep communicating with their stakeholders and community during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

Some of these were using social walls for crisis communication. Others used social walls to adapt their existing plans to the new situation they found themselves in. And some found social walls a helpful tool to stay in touch with their community during the lockdown. 

We saw a huge number of customers set up walls reacting specifically to the COVID-19 crisis. It was hard to choose from all of them. In the end, we decided each of the four of us in the Walls.io marketing team would pick two favourites.

Read on to find out which customers Daniela, Magdalena, Veronika and I were particularly impressed with.

Hope Church: Sustaining a religious community from a safe distance (Veronika’s pick #1)

Churchgoers around the world have been hit hard during the pandemic. Especially during a time where many needed support and comfort more than ever, churches in many countries were not allowed to open under lockdown rules.

Hope Church in Richmond, Virginia, found an innovative solution to connect with their audience outside of their usual places of worship. Every Sunday, Hope Church offered a live-stream online so people could still attend mass from the safety of their homes. 

Unfortunately, a live stream is a one-way street. The pastor can hold their sermon, but there’s no feedback from the audience. Meanwhile, a church thrives through its community — something a live-stream alone cannot provide.

To solve this one-sidedness, Hope Church embedded a social wall right beneath the live-stream. It gives people the possibility to share their experiences of the service and engage with each other.

Screenshot of the Hope Church live-stream page. At the top, it says “LIVE STREAM Join us live on Sundays at 9:30 am.”  The currently off-air live-stream is embedded underneath, showing a static image that says “See you on Sunday”. Under the live-stream embed, three images named “sermons”, “music” and “connect”, seem to lead to more information. Underneath, the social wall is embedded, showing messages and photos posted by members of the congregation from home.
Hope Church has the social wall embedded under the live stream.

A social wall is an excellent tool for sustaining a community remotely. Under normal circumstances, a congregation prays and sings together regularly. It’s not the pastor who creates the sense of togetherness at a service but the community itself. 

With a social wall, congregations can recreate that feeling from a safe distance. Additionally, the posts on the wall also act as little windows into the homes of fellow church members.

City of Buxtehude uses a social wall to entertain kids (Veronika’s pick #2)

Buxtehude is a small city in Germany with roughly 40,000 residents. Despite its small size, the town had a significant impact on its citizens’ daily life during the lockdown. When kindergartens and schools were closed, the city leadership stepped up to help out parents with small children.

They designed a hashtag campaign with weekly challenges aimed at the youngest inhabitants. Parents could then upload their submissions to Instagram, tagged with one of the appropriate hashtags, to be eligible to win a voucher for a restaurant or shop in the city. With the campaign, Buxtehude administration entertained its citizens and supported the local economy at the same time.

They also gave people the option to send in their contributions via email, so everybody could participate, even if they didn’t have a public Instagram account.

Every submission, whether tagged with the hashtag or sent in via email, was displayed on a social wall.

Screenshot of the Buxtehude social wall showing posts from citizens creatively meeting the challenges set by the campaign. We see various crafts, from drawings to homemade face masks.
City of Buxtehude social wall seeing lots of submissions from inhabitants.

The Buxtehude municipality noticed early on that people did not only use the hashtag for participating in the challenges but also to just document their daily life and motivate others to stay home as well. This side effect was a big plus for Buxtehude because their core task was to keep people at home and safe. 

Holyoke Community College’s kindness campaign (Andie’s pick #1)

Like many other universities and colleges, Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts went virtual during the pandemic. Classes and even ceremonies were conducted remotely. But the thing that Holyoke did that I didn’t see many others do was to set up a kindness campaign unrelated to any academic events.

Holyoke started Together HCC: A Campaign for Caring. The hashtag campaign targeted students, staff, alumni and friends of the college. The landing page for the campaign says: “The world may require us to be distant right now. But as colleagues, classmates, alumni and friends, we can still be #TogetherHCC.”

The campaign page also had a social wall for the hashtag #TogetherHCC embedded.

White page with black text that reads “BE INSPIRED & INSPIRE OTHERS Use #TogetherHCC when sharing stories of the ways HCC alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends make a difference.  And read some of the stories we're sharing from the #TogetherHCC archives and from posts we have been receiving this week.  Need inspiration for your own posts? Access our social media toolkit.”  Underneath the text, the #TogetherHCC social wall is embedded.
The social wall is embedded on the Holyoke Community College website.

Holyoke offered multiple ways to take part in the campaign. Next to the classic options Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, they also set up a Google Form and even gave the option to send messages in via email.

In addition to the social media part of it all, Holyoke connected the campaign to the very real goal of trying to get people to contribute to the President’s Student Emergency Fund and the Thrive Center & Food Pantry. The money in these funds helps out students who have been impacted by the health crisis.

I think that’s what takes this kindness campaign to the next level. It’s not just talking the talk on social media but also walking the walk and creating actual support resources for students. The president stepped up and promised to contribute $10,000 once 1,000 people had contributed either by donating or by sharing the campaign!

Black text on white background that reads: “A CHALLENGE FROM PRESIDENT ROYAL: LET'S BE #TOGETHERHCC Over the past few weeks, HCC President Christina Royal has heard from faculty, staff, alumni and friends expressing concern for our students and a desire to help. Her response? A gift of $10,000 when 1,000 of you join the movement – in any way you choose.  Send a message, make a gift, or both! When 1,000 of you do, President Christina Royal will make a gift of $10,000 in support of our amazing students. Let's be there for HCC students and our community. Together.”  Underneath, two buttons: SPREAD THE WORD and MAKE A GIFT
Call to action from the college’s President.

Mental health org Jack’s “Virtual Jack Summit Experience” (Andie’s pick #2)

Jack.org is a Canadian charity aimed at normalising the conversation about mental health. The organisation provides training to young leaders, empowering them to dismantle barriers to positive mental health in their communities. Young people from high school age upwards form Jack chapters across Canada.

Jack also holds talks and so-called summits. Usually, these events happen in physical spaces. But during the pandemic, Jack pivoted towards virtual events, taking the Jack Summit online.

When the pandemic and lockdowns hit, the Jack Summit 2020 was cancelled and replaced with “Not Done Yet: A Virtual Jack Summit Experience”. The virtual event in May 2020 brought together more than 250 delegates from all over Canada. The 7-day event included large live-streams, small group sessions and even things like yoga classes.

Jack Summit used a social media wall as an additional tool for connecting a large number of participants online. They used the straightforward hashtag #JackSummit to pull public content posted on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, as well as displaying posts from the official Jack Facebook account on the social wall.

It’s really impressive how quickly Jack reacted, cancelled the physical summit event and pulled together the resources for the virtual version. Coordinating more than 250 people for online discussions is no small feat. I’m very glad that Walls.io could add another interactive element to the virtual event, helping connect participants across Canada.

Screenshot from the Jack.org website showing the Summit page announcing the event “Not Done Yet: A Virtual Jack Summit Experience”. After a short introduction about the summit, the social wall is embedded, showing video posts by Canadian musician Jessie Reyez and Jerry Harris from the Netflix documentary series “Cheer”, among other posts.
The social wall embedded on the Summit page of the Jack.org website.

Clean Hands Save Lives: A hashtag campaign with all the options to participate (Magdalena’s pick #1)

The COVID-19 crisis has made it abundantly clear that correct handwashing saves lives, in private as much as in medical settings. But how do you make sure that message gets out there?

Clean Hands Save Lives is a global campaign led by Didier Pittet, the doctor who pioneered alcohol-based hygiene in hospitals, and the WHO. The campaign is aimed at nurses and midwives to ensure safe practices in hospitals.

During the coronavirus, the Clean Hands campaign stepped it up and created a two-pronged social media campaign that was displayed on a social wall.

The first part of the campaign was called “Clean Care is in Your Hands” and aimed to encourage medical professionals to diligently wash their hands to prevent spreading diseases such as COVID-19. Nurses and midwives were asked to share photos or videos of themselves washing their hands using the campaign’s various hashtags, such as #SafeHands or #HandHygiene.

The second phase was aimed at the general public, allowing them to express their thanks to nurses and midwives using a song that was made available in various languages.

The Clean Hands campaign put a lot of effort into making participation in the campaign easy and understandable for everybody, starting with a very intuitive microsite design focussed on guiding people with clear and helpful instructions.

Screenshot of the Clean Hands Save Lives page detailing the steps of taking part in the campaign by taking a photo and sharing it using one of four hashtags or by uploading the content using a form at the end of the page. There’s also an email address to which people could send their contributions. At the very top of the page there’s a collage of eight pictures submitted during the campaign.
Easy-to-understand instructions for the hashtag campaign on the Clean Hands Save Lives website.

To make the campaign accessible for people without social media accounts, they offered a wide variety of options for participation, including a direct upload to the social wall using the Walls.io API and even the option to submit pictures and videos via email. 

Since the pandemic coincided with the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, the Clean Hands campaign came up with the perfect combination: preventing the spread of the pandemic plus supporting and thanking the people that are there every day, taking care of all of us.

Ringling College: Apart but together online (Magdalena’s pick #2)

Ringling College of Art + Design is a world-renowned art college where emerging artists, designers and scholars can develop their skills and talents in an environment that encourages creative problem solving and critical thinking.

But, as we were saying just recently, leaving university to confront adulthood and the job market can be a bit of a shock to the system.

Commencement ceremonies are a great way to send graduates off into the world with a bit of fortification. Unfortunately, the 2020 pandemic and social distancing measures made it impossible for universities to celebrate their graduating students properly, adding even more uncertainty to an uncertain moment of their lives.

But this small obstacle was not going to stop Ringling College. The university transformed the traditional ceremony into an online celebration full of hope and good wishes.

The Ringling social media wall, showing the college’s logo and “Congratulations Ringling Class of 2020” in the header. The social wall is made up of photos shared by graduates and their families on Instagram.
The Ringling College of Art + Design social media wall.

For a few weeks, they dedicated their website to videos from the Dean and other members of the academic community sending inspiring and celebratory messages to the graduates. Plus, they created a social wall on which the students, as well as their friends and families, could post using the hashtag #RinglingGrads.

The campaign provided a lovely send-off for graduates and also allowed them to express themselves creatively. 

Scouts’ initiative bringing fun and education to the homes of young people (Daniela’s pick #1)

With the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), schools in many countries around the world were closed and activities put on hold. But the safety measures put in place weren’t supposed to prevent young people from having fun, continuing learning or making new friends. That’s where the special online edition of the international Scouting event Jamboree-on-the-Internet comes in.

Jamboree-on-the-Internet, known by its acronym JOTI, is an annual international Scouting event sponsored by the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Every year in October, participants from all over the world gather online to learn about their fellows’ cultures and Scouting activities.

In 2020, there was an additional, one-of-a-kind special edition of JOTI, one of the largest Scouting events ever. Throughout the weekend of 3–5 April, the event brought fun and education to the homes of young people around the world during a challenging time. 

Millions of young Scouts came together online to learn about safety measures, mental and physical health through a range of different activities. They also shared their beautiful moments on social media.

JOTI used a social media wall on the live-stream page, encouraging everyone to join interesting social media challenges and get featured on World Scouting’s social media wall by using #JOTI and #ChainOfGratitude. They kept the social wall embed even after the event ended and made recordings of all the live streams available on the website. I love the way the social wall brings all the participants together and gives each of them a voice.

Screenshot of the JOTI website “Welcome to JOTI Live”. Two recordings of Jamboree-on-the-Internet are embedded at the top. Underneath, the social media wall for #ChainOfGratitude is embedded as well, showing posts shared by young Scouts. We have made the children unidentifiable by pasting emoji heads of our mascot Walter over their faces.
The JOTI Live page with live streams and the social media wall embedded. Since the people visible in the social wall photos are underage, we have decided to anonymise them.

#CuppaForCareFlight hashtag campaign takes fundraising online (Daniela’s pick #2)

CareFlight is an aeromedical organisation established by a group of Australian doctors. Their mission is “to save lives, speed recovery and serve the community by providing the highest standard of rapid response critical care.” This is achieved through the use of a variety of aircraft, including aeromedical helicopters, jets and fixed-wing aircraft.

Usually, CareFlight raises funds for its continued operation at various events. During the pandemic, holding events wasn’t possible, so CareFlight launched a national MAYDAY donations hashtag campaign to raise funds for some trauma care workshops. The #CuppaForCareFlight campaign encouraged people to donate $5 (or more) and document themselves “having a cuppa” for CareFlight.

I loved the clear step by step instructions, which made it easy for people to take part and join the donations campaign.

Instructions for taking part in the “Cuppa for CareFlight” campaign, including where to post the photo or video, what hashtag to use (#CuppaForCareFlight) and which account to tag on each social media network. It also offers instructions for donating, which can be done either online or via phone call.
Instructions on how to take part and donate in the the #CuppaForCareFlight hashtag campaign.

They also embedded a social wall on the donations page and encouraged people to join the virtual community and do something good. The website reads: “Together, we will build a virtual community of CareFlight supporters on our live social wall.”

The #CuppaForCareFlight social wall with the CareFlight logo and “CareFlight MAYDAY” in the header. The posts on the social wall show people (and pets) “having a cuppa” at the camera.
The #CuppaForCareFlight social wall.

And not only people had a cuppa and joined the CareFlight MAYDAY. Some of their pets joined in as well.

Instagram post by @soxandande showing a tabby cat with a white face, legs and paws putting its nose into a ceramic cup with an owl painted on it. The caption says: “We can all help save lives and speed recovery by having a cuppa for CareFlight and donating this May. @mycareflight #cuppaforcareflight”
Source: Instagram

We hope you enjoyed getting some insight into the diverse ways our customers have used social walls to help themselves out during the pandemic.

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