How Brands Should React on Social Media in a National Crisis

CrisisScheduled social media posts are crucial for firms who wish to create a consistent brand, enhance visibility and maintain relationships with customers. Brands that have successfully built social media calendars around major events like the Super Bowl and Christmas. In times of national or international crisis businesses can often be left wondering: should I even tweet? We can never tell when charged events will happen but it is better to prepare your communication strategy in advance.

Best Practices

Check your scheduled content’s tone

Context is everything and a playfully worded post might be perceived completely differently while a national crisis unfolds. Your explosive new deal might go from being an interesting tweet that can drive conversions to a PR disaster in the wrong circumstances. Always check the content you have lined up for the day during a crisis and make sure that any wording that can be potentially misinterpreted is changed.

Supportive, compassionate and neutral

Remembering your brand’s voice on social media is always important and even more so during a crisis. Expressing anger in tough moments may seem natural as an individual but may not reflect well on your brand. There might be a human behind the keyboard but the human should stay professional.

Help if you can

If a crisis is unfolding nearby, be sure to offer the public what you can. Offering a place to charge mobile phones or use a phone, giving away water or wifi access will mean the world to a distressed public. Social media is a great way for brands to centre themselves within the community and acts of kindness will always be appreciated.

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Donate, donate, donate

Crowdfunding plays a huge part in the days following a crisis yet services like JustGiving have historically had issues concerning the verification of funding efforts in crises. Unfortunately, opportunists often take advantage of the charitable mood in the aftermath of an incident to make persona gains. BBC Newsbeat has a good article on how to spot the opportunistic frauds. If your brand is trustworthy and centred within a community it may just be up to you to start the crowfunding effort. Trust reflected towards your brand will allow members of the community to donate without the apprehension that they may otherwise have. And, of course, donate what you can!

Consider pushing content back a day and pausing advertising

If people aren’t glued to their TV sets during a national crisis, they are sure to be glued to their phones. While it is not the fault of businesses that platforms such as Twitter and Facebook continue to serve adverts during a time of national crisis nonetheless these adverts can be perceived as being shallow or intrusive. Pausing advertising may not be an option for businesses who outsource their social media advertising but it should be a consideration. It may be appropriate also to delay regularly scheduled content by a day, while the national mood adjusts.

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Offer condolences

Many brands build their social media presences on the notion that there is a human being behind the keyboard. If your tweets or Facebook posts have a personal touch then it might be appropriate for your to offer your condolences.

Don’t get caught in the maelstrom

Save retweeting updates on the current events to your personal profiles on the various social media platforms – unless your business is known for providing updates on current events. Avoid sharing or retweeting any potentially distressing images. The spread of misinformation at these times is particularly dangerous.

Take control of KPI’s

If you work for an agency and your client demands a certain level of social media activity each day, week or month get on the phone to them and explain your process for a crisis. It’s important, as the socially savvy agent in this circumstance, to explain the options around a crisis and your need to readjust expectations on bad days for the country.

Stop selling

The hard sell can often look tacky on social media at the best of times but during a national crisis it becomes a complete and absolute no-no. Salesly posts look completely out of place when people are following breaking news events and can do more harm than good.

Conclusion

In the event on an unfolding national crisis brands should do everything in their power to reduce unnecessary posts. Remember to check scheduled posts for any content that may be deemed inappropriate in light of the events. Be sure to perform any acts of kindness that are suitable and refuse to participate in any speculation. Self promotion is not the use case for social media during a national crisis: people are using the services for breaking news. It is not the fault of brands if social media services refuse to deprioritize scheduled advertising but if your brand falls victim of any undeserved ire then remember to be as patient as possible with users.

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Colin Adam

Colin Adam

Colin is a co-founder and the Director of Marketing at Yatter.