Getting COVID Safe behaviour messaging to cut through on social media
The NSW Government social team uses good content to tackle complacency towards COVID Safe behaviours.
When COVID-19 cases and community transmission are low in NSW, people perceive risk as being low as well. This often means that behaviours that helped us through the pandemic will lapse. People may be less vigilant about checking in to venues, practicing good hand hygiene or staying at home when sick. When NSW is open and tight restrictions seem like a thing of the past, it’s harder to encourage people to keep up the behaviours that got us here.
COVID Safe behaviours are still vital to NSW’s ongoing success, even as the number of people vaccinated increase. Small acts like checking into venues and wearing a mask make a big difference. As a team, we are constantly coming up with ways that we can tackle this apathy.
Social media offers us an opportunity to have fun with reminders, engage meaningfully with people, and communicate transparently with our audience. NSW Government social media channels have an important role to play in the broader COVID-19 response – here are some examples of content we’ve used on the NSW Government Facebook page to influence COVID Safe behaviours.
We sought to solve the problem with good content and stellar community management. Our Facebook content has a short shelf-life and is mostly quick to produce, so we can address any strong community concerns with a post in a few hours when it’s needed. This was especially important when restrictions were changing from week to week and confusion among the community was high.
We back all our content up with responsive community management so that anyone who needs clarification on rules or help knows where to find it. Good content is important for reach, but transparent, human-focused community management is irreplaceable.
What we learned
Our content is designed to be engaging, to get people talking, and to remind them that we all play a role in keeping NSW healthy and thriving. Here’s what we’ve learned:
1. Pop culture references and memes help the message resonate with different audiences who might have tuned out to regular messaging. Memes are in our top three most engaging posts every month and achieve great organic reach.
2. Puns, humour and rhymes helps people absorb the message. Posts using humour to communicate COVID-safe behaviours generate (on average) an engagement rate of 3.5%, compared to 1.92% for posts which are more factual or demonstrative.
3. Content that isn’t instantly recognisable as public health messaging works for people who are fatigued with regular (but still important) messaging - our ‘gamified’ content (content that looks like an old school video game with levels and challenges, but is all about COVID safe behaviours) generate on average 39% higher reach than posts that appear as more formal instructions.
4. Keeping reminders relevant by tying them back to key dates or events helps.
5. Plain language and simple formats make information easy to understand, and often the simplest of messages have the biggest impact. Our ‘Check in and chill out’ graphic generated 4,603 link clicks, a click through rate of 2.34% and way above the industry average of 0.90%.
6. People love their area! In A/B tests targeted to specific Sydney suburbs where checking in was low, creative that featured something specific to that suburb increased engagement by 73%.
7. People need a break from COVID content too. Entertaining posts like this video about property lost at train stations achieved double the average engagement in March, when average engagement was already strong at around 5%.
Our efforts are also complemented by other NSW Government COVID communications channels. Our team is part of a bigger network of traditional media, digital media and customer support channels which help keep NSW informed and COVID Safe.
Follow the NSW Government on Facebook to stay up to date on COVID-19 information and general information and updates from NSW Government.