Villing & Company

Twitter Etiquette in Times of Tragedy

During last week's tragedies in Boston and West Texas, Twitter and Facebook were flooded with messages about the events. When major news events like these take place, it's important to take caution when managing corporate social media accounts. The typical marketing messages you may have scheduled are probably inappropriate in the new context, so it's important to act quickly to either change your messages or remain silent.

Although none of us can anticipate these events, it's important to plan for the possibility of these situations. Here are some strategies to consider:

Develop a basic plan. Meet with social media managers, marketing and public relations personnel and key stakeholders in the company to discuss a general strategy for how the company will react in these situations. Will you join the national conversation, or simply wait for it to pass.

Monitor current events. As social media managers, we often have our messages carefully planned ahead and scheduled for deployment at strategic times of the day. While that sort of planning is great, it's important to keep a close eye on trending topics and the news. When tragedy strikes, avoid sending any automated messages that are unrelated to the event. And, if possible, disable any scheduled social media messages.

Inform your colleagues and partners. It's safe to assume that not all employees are checking the news or on Twitter throughout the day. When something major happens that will affect your messaging, be sure to let your social media partners know. This will avoid the potential for inappropriate posts by people who haven't yet heard the news. I recommend sending an email to everyone as soon as a crisis situation arises. During major events, it's probably a good idea to inform all employees about the plan for your company's social media sites, such as whether the company will be suspending its marketing messages until further notice.

Of course we all hope we never have to utilize a crisis plan of this nature, but it is always best practice to have one in place.

Filed Under: social media

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