Social Media has always been about sharing your brand, creating buzz, and working to build relationships with future prospects. Social Media gurus have always preached to us to tweet , update, comment, and share consistently, so it’s no secret that social media is a key ingredient in today’s marketing plan.
But is there ever a time when we should step away from our social media efforts for a few hours, even a few days? The answer is yes. During national (or international) tragedies one poorly timed tweet or Facebook update can make your business seem insensitive and clueless.
A good example of this happened in April when well-known social media guru Guy Kawasaki got himself into a pickle with his non-stop automated tweets. The news of the Boston Marathon bombing was breaking and our country was in shock. All social media went very quiet and many Twitter updates were users expressing concern or sharing what they knew about the tragedy. In the midst of it all, Guy’s automated Tweets kept rolling. When a twitter follower suggested Guy turn off his automated tweets for a day, Kawasaki shot back with a less-than-kind tweet that infuriated many of his followers. Proof that one thoughtless tweet could potentially undo a following and a reputation Kawasaki had spent years building.
What To Do When Bad Things Happen:
- Create a plan: Determine the criteria for what developments would warrant you and your company stepping back from social media for a while. Granted, you can’t shut down every time something bad happens in the world, but you can set guidelines for when it’s time to take action. In a pinch, trust your gut. If it feels wrong to power forward with business-as-usual, it probably is.
- Know how to Un-Automate: Have a process document handy, or make sure someone on your staff knows how to stop your automated Tweets and updates quickly and seamlessly. If you have product launches or public relations events planned, this might be the time to rethink things and postpone your efforts for a few days. Your excited postings of a new product or service may fall on deaf ears when your readership is heartsick about a national tragedy.
- Watch the World: If you are someone who does not listen to the news or social media, appoint a team member to watch out for potential situations. And when those “situations” occur, use the guidelines you created to address and assess quickly, as opposed to waiting for one of your followers or to complain.
- Don’t be a NewsJacker: Never ever “hitch your wagon” to a national or international tragedy. It is never acceptable to tweet something like “our hearts go out to the families of _____ during this trying time. Now here’s 10 Tips for Getting your Exercise today.” Being authentically worried, sad, sick or even optimistic is acceptable, spamming is not.
If you do slip up and offend someone, acknowledge it, make adjustments, apologize and move on.