Social media managers work 24/7 to get in touch with what’s currently trending and what’s not with their respective audiences. They are established to speak for the brands they give life to and are responsible for its reputation in the online community.
One may think that with every well-thought hashtag and a strategic community outreach, nothing can go wrong once the social media campaign rolls out in a minute or so.
As positive trends continue to co-relate with a brand’s community, how do social media managers fit in on sensitive and tragic events, such as the recent Paris terror attacks along with the world’s continued fear of extremist attacks? Crises such as these turn social media networks into an enormous outlet of emotional feelings, with even the tiniest mistake can trigger a mass backlash—which is every social media manager’s nightmare.
So, here are the dos and don’ts that every social media manager should bear in mind in times of tragic events:
DO: The silent approach
If a brand is not, in any way, related to the recent tragedies, do not take the risk. The best treatment is to stay silent.
The public will be wary whenever a brand suddenly jumps into the crisis as if it’s an opportunity for future promotional activities. People are talking about hundreds of lives lost and broken families, speaking to them as a brand will definitely impose a wrong impression, except if the brand is tied to some businesses or have loved ones and employees related to the crisis.
If this the case, making a single tailored statement of sympathy will be alright as consideration to those who are affected.
DO: Disable scheduled posts
Social media managers have their posts scheduled ahead of time. As such, some posts may have sensitive content that can be related to tragic events that they weren’t expecting to happen.
In times like these, getting updated with the news and disabling scheduled posts is a right approach to avoid people deeming the brand as disrespectful.
DO: Revise the content calendar
Social media managers must always be prepared and ready to make any changes to the content calendar especially when tragedies occur. Edit and remove content that may include sensitive material, plan posts concerning the crisis, post less, and give way to honor the events.
DO: Provide links to beneficial resources
Sharing links to helpful resources is a positive advance that most brands forget. Post links that lead to charity organizations, government agencies, and fundraisers that will be of benefit to the victims. The public appreciates every kind thought especially in times of disasters.
DO: Make it personal
Leave out all the branded details, be humble, and reach out words of comfort and support to the victims. Make the people forget that a brand is speaking to them, and instead, make them realize that behind the brand is a person who shares the same sentiments as them.
DON’T: Use such events for promotional posts
Most brands fail to realize the serious impact of a crisis and still pushes through a campaign, which often leads to public apologies and ruined reputation.
Think about it, everybody will be turned off if someone suddenly cheers you up and will later offer a service that can be of help. As they say, bad publicity is still publicity, but a social media manager should never settle for that.
DON’T: Mix politics and religion with the brand
Politics and religion are highly sensitive topics that every brand should be wary of. Be careful of using hashtags and quoting sensitive statements, be neutral on all business sides.
On the recent Paris attacks, #PrayForParis and “fear shall not rule us” trended on social media sites. However, not all may agree with one’s beliefs, the next thing that’ll happen will be the brand’s account flooded with political and religious arguments.
DON’T: Pitch business while the event is still ongoing
Not all brands are related to the recent tragedies, and a brand manager may continue with the business as usual. But when pitching, keep in mind that not all companies may be ready to function as more people are still in grief.
It’s alright to prepare a business proposal to send later on. Do not rush, most brand PRs may also not read and respond to an email immediately due to recent events.
DON’T: Impose gimmicks
If there’s really a need for community engagement, reach out to the followers and make them know the person behind the brand, that there’s no ulterior business motives behind the response.
As stated before, leave all the branded details, mention and retweet genuine support of the brand’s CEO and affiliates. Appear to the public, not as the brand’s persona but as a caring person.
DON’T: Make statements
This is already a known etiquette for most social media managers. By all means, do not express personal sentiments through the brand account. It’s very improper, and as a social media manager, the goal is to lend a helping hand and deliver support and comfort to the victims.
Contrary to what most people assume about brands being ‘heartless’ – only thinking about how to promote the business, make the community know and feel that behind the brand stands a person that has the same feelings with the rest of them – you.