How to Handle Social Media During a Crisis

Recent events in the news have brought to light an issue that can be a delicate situation for brands and businesses to face - how to best handle social media in a time of crisis?

When something terrible happens in the world and those events are still unfolding, you may wish to take a step back from socials and consider the implications of continuing to post. It goes against a lot of other social media advice, but sometimes the old cliché is true: silence is golden.

We’ve seen too many examples of how not to post during a crisis: the brand, who in the midst of a developing tragedy, thinks it’s a good time to push their latest sale; or the well-meaning colleague who expresses sympathies for those involved and then follows up with a post about his upcoming Starbucks run; or the company that jumps on a trending hashtag without checking why it’s trending first.

A poorly timed or worded tweet can become a public relations nightmare. See here and here and here.

  1. If you’ve pre-programmed posts, now is the time to go back and check them. Don’t let something completely inappropriate go live simply because you scheduled it in advance. Be proactive. Take it down or postpone it before it has the chance to become an issue.
  2. If you don’t know what to post, then don’t be afraid to go dark temporarily. It’s probably not the best time to practice your finest business pitch, anyway. Nobody will fault you for showing restraint. (If you must post, be very careful about how you word things and really think through all the ways your words and actions can be interpreted/misinterpreted.)
  3. You’ve refrained from posting and moved or deleted your upcoming posts. Now what? Well, that’s a more complicated call. There is no “right” time to resume your regular social activities. Be respectful. Be thoughtful. Watch how people are responding. Keep an eye on the news. And don’t try to send out condolences with a business promotion.

Eventually, life goes on because it has to, not because we’ve chosen to forget. Getting back to your business doesn’t mean you don’t care, but you certainly don’t want it to seem that way.

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