How to Use Social Media During a Crisis
This topic is a difficult one, and especially this close to the bombing at the Boston Marathon, it’s probably coming a little too soon. But I’m going to make an honest effort to provide some helpful advice, and do it in a respectful manner, and I’m just going to have to ask for grace from any of you that I might offend. I’m also going to use Twitter as my main example here, but this can also apply to other social networking sites.
Like many, I was at work when the bombings happened, but I didn’t know it until later. I was in a meeting following up from our launch event at the Social Media Marketing World (SMMW) conference.
After that, I wrote some emails following up on contacts made at the show. It wasn’t until after that was done that I looked at Twitter and realized what was happening. I can’t get over how terrible my own timing was on those emails. Did I appear insensitive, or just out-of-the-loop?
What struck me was that mixed in with the messages of support, prayer, and offers of help on Twitter were messages from people and brands still firing off into the ether, unaware that there was something newsworthy happening.
This seemed even worse than my ill-timed emails. It was, frankly, a little disappointing to see people and brands still going about business as usual during a tragedy. In all fairness, we are a global community, and there is tragedy happening around the world every day. Chris Brogan asked about this:
"Why tell companies to stop tweeting because of an American tragedy & not also ask them to stop for every country’s woes?" [Tweeted by Chris Brogan]
Bullet summary of Rob Stevens' pointers:
It’s a reasonable question to ask.
My suggestion to anyone with this responsibility is to err on the side of suspending any activity automatic activity, and potentially all activity.
When you schedule tweets to be sent automatically, we can no longer suspend our disbelief.
If there were an exception, it would be for companies based where the tragedy is happening, or maybe with clients in the area.
Act as a conduit for the information; do not take credit for it.
Keep people in the loop to make decisions based on these events.
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Rob Stevens is Customer Marketing Producer for PaperShare, a real-time publishing engine that turns content into customers. “SuperRob” works with his clients to help them execute their content marketing strategy on social networks and their own websites.
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