Since social media became a popular marketing tool for companies, we have advocated having a plan. Determine where, when and what to post. Create a content calendar (and stick to it!). Automate what you can. Our one caveat has always been this: be aware of what’s going on in the world around you, and be prepared to adjust to current events accordingly.
In simpler times, the best practice was to pause your company’s social media activities for a few days following a local, national or global tragedy. However, that’s easier said than done these days, when it seems you can’t turn on the TV or open Facebook without being confronted by news of a natural disaster, mass shooting or other tragedy. It’s still important to acknowledge these events—but with their increasing frequency, it feels like the rules for when and how to do that have changed.
So how, in what seems to be an increasingly troubled world, can you maintain a social media strategy without coming off as tone deaf, insensitive or opportunistic?
The simple answer is, there is no simple answer. But figuring out how your company is going to handle social media in the wake of a tragic event is more important than ever. Here are some options to consider:
- Pause, selectively: If a tragedy occurs that affects your industry, customer base or community, it is probably wise to take a break before resuming social media activity.
- Post something useful: Consider sharing helpful tips, links and other information that affected followers might need. If the event affects the times or ways your customers can reach you, that is good information to share too. If you can offer assistance (NOT in a gimmicky, salesy way), make that known.
- Adjust: If you have a planned post or ad that could offend or be perceived as insensitive, consider skipping it or rescheduling it for another time.
- Address and move on: Sometimes, just acknowledging that something has happened may be enough.
- Business as usual: If your content isn’t insensitive or your followers are unaffected by an event, it’s possible that doing nothing is a better idea than posting something that could be perceived as insincere or calculated.
What’s your company’s protocol for handling social media in times of trouble? One of the above? Some combination of the above? Something else?