Three Social Media Tips for Times of Tragedy

Well, it happened again. We experienced another unfortunate national tragedy Monday that completely overtook Twitter and other social networks. And right on queue, there were brands that tried to capitalize on the trending topics. One in particular was Epicurious. The image posted below, which was posted Tuesday morning, shows a few tweets it used regarding Boston and the tragedy the city faced.

It’s pretty obvious this was probably not the right approach when offering condolences. The right move is to not “sell.” In fact, the right strategy might just be to say nothing at all.

Epicurious wasn’t the only one feeling pressure. Wendy’s was found atop the Twitter search feed for “Boston Marathon” as a Promoted Account and that didn’t make a lot of people very happy. Sometimes, things happens and brands are caught off guard on social media. It’s impossible to be prepared for everything, but there ARE ways to plan and react when moments like this happen. Here are a few tips:

1. Pause Posts – When a major tragedy or event happens that overtakes social media, you should immediately pause your scheduled posts. Stop everything. You never know if a post could offend someone and lead to a PR crisis of your own.

2. Suspend Ads – If you are running ads or a campaign of some kind on a social network, stop them immediately. We saw when Wendy’s paid to have their Twitter account promoted, it was bad timing and placement. I’m not sure if their “promoted account” was sitting atop all trending topic searches or specific topics, but it was there for “Boston Marathon” and that was just bad timing. It was likely set up long before the incident, which is why you must be prepared to suspend ads in an instant. When you’re reading about a tragedy, you don’t want to be fed ads from every direction.

3. Stay Silent – Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all. There were many brands that posted condolences–and that’s just fine. But even that can still be a touchy subject. Tread carefully.

This is one of those times when selling and marketing need to come to a halt. Let people have this moment. The tough part is tragedies are impossible to predict. The people in charge of your social media need to be paying attention and be ready and able to make proper adjustments. Be sure to get a plan in place now, so you’re not paying for it after it’s too late.

April 16, 2013 · Posted by in social media  


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