How Do You Handle Social Media During a National Crisis

Candles to remember the innocent victims of the shootings that occurred in public places in the U.S. in 2012. Photo Courtesy of Irum Shahid. Above Promotions Company, Tampa, FL 2012.

Candles to remember the innocent victims of the shootings that occurred in public places in the U.S. in 2012. Photo Courtesy of Irum Shahid. Above Promotions Company, Tampa, FL 2012.

It can easily be said that the public shootings of innocent people from Colorado to Connecticut and places in between, have been moments we will never forget. As fellow humans we immediately begin to feel sorrow for those involved. In many cases, the tragedies force you to stop and reflect on the value of life and the importance of mental health. For some, it even involves taking a look at the gun laws in the U.S. But as a business owner, marketing coordinator or social media manager, during these types of tragedies, do you rethink how or when you address your fans or the public on social media?

As the story continues to unfold over the shooter, his motives, the lives taken away at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and even gun laws, I cannot help but wonder, do business owners and organization leaders make any exception to their social media posts during times of tragedy? Are your fans turning to a retailer or a news media outlet when issues of this scale occur? I guess my question boils down to what is or is not appropriate to say or share on social media during times of a national crisis?

About.com says traditional media is a one-way street, while social media is a two-way street. If you’re talking about your event, your product or service while everyone else on your social media feed is discussing the crisis, do you think your posts will be reflected on as being a relevant two-way street?

So, as to not appear as I have all of the answers, I would like to pose the following questions for dialogue on this topic.

  1. Do you stop and rescheduled programmed updates?
  2. Do you think your updates have the same effect during a tragedy if they do not involve the tragedy?
  3. If you program your updates, do you check to ensure they are in-time with current events or thoughts of your targeted audience?
  4. Will your organization be hurt if you withhold non-crisis related posts for 4 or even up to 24 hours?
  5. Do you even acknowledge national tragedies?
  6. Is it better to pause and acknowledge the tragedy and post as normal?
  7. Do you evaluate all posts that are scheduled to ensure they do not offend anyone?

I will provide my personal professional opinion and one shared with my clients and the answers to these questions as we discuss this topic. I do believe that if you communicate a message of being for the people and concerned about the people in your overall branding message, you must be sensitive to the people. You cannot say, you are the source people turn to and then ignore the fact your topic is not relevant during such a time. For some industries, this is more of a guideline, for example, if you are a business that contracts to the government, it wouldn’t matter as much.

Also, always keep in mind how relative your posts are to your audience and the timing of them. Even if you’re hosting the best event or sale of the year, if tragedy strikes, these things can appear as insensitive or just not needed at the moment, but ok after a short period of time.

Again, I would love to hear your answers on the questions above. Your response may be featured in a future article.

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

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Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.

Comments
3 Responses to “How Do You Handle Social Media During a National Crisis”
  1. As a Frugal blogger my audience is built mostly by moms, so this incident is very relevant. However, when this tragedy occurred, I had my day scheduled out with automatic posting. Since my niche is FRUGAL I tend to post every hour and sometimes even every 1/2 hour. My intentions were to stop my postings since this was a National crisis and post a request for prayers (which I did immediately after learning of this tragedy) BUT that day I had to run an errand, and totally forgot to stop my postings from publishing on social media. On my phone I noticed a negative comment on my FB page as soon as I returned immediately stopped them. I didn’t start to post until the next day when I posted a thing here and there, in respect to the victims, my audience, my daughter whom I picked up at school and spent time with.

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