In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris this past Friday, I made a decision to step back from social media marketing for a few days. It felt uncomfortable to be promoting my business while the western world was in shock. Unfortunately, there have been countless times in the past few years when I have felt this way.
I worked in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 when life as we knew it stopped abruptly. And for a few days the relentless marketing machine in New York ground to a halt (no social media back then). Then little by little life began to return to normal, albeit a new normal. The temporary respite was blessedly healing; at least for me.
When facing this type of situation it’s hard for us to know what to do about social media marketing. We can’t just drop the ball on our businesses. In spite of what’s going on in the world we must keep marketing and serving our customers and clients. People depend on us!
There are no rules to go by for social media when the “unthinkable” happens. But, over the years I’ve watched how all types of companies handle it during a disaster. My observations enable me to make a few suggestions:
3 Ways To Handle Social Media Marketing During A Disaster
Take A Few Days Off: I know that I need some time to step back and absorb what’s happened. If you choose this option, make sure to give yourself a date to get started again. Because once you stop, it can be hard to get revved up again.
Stay The Course: Keep your social media on track as planned…it’s perfectly fine to keep your schedule going, especially if you are in the middle of a big promo or launch that can’t be changed.
Make A Statement: Use social media to make a statement about what’s going on, on behalf of your company. If you choose this option you have to think very carefully about what you will post before you post it. Epic social media marketing mistakes have been made in the wake of recent crises. These kinds of snafus are in bad taste and can negatively impact your brand.
And here are some examples of what not to do:
Most people objected to Kenneth Cole’s “humorous” tweets during the Egypt uprisings.
Gap tried to tie Hurricane Sandy to a shopping trip. I say #bigfail.
Epicurious’ tweets were not well received after the Boston Marathon bombings.
If you follow your heart during sensitive times (and be sure to be super careful) you really can’t make a mistake. I feel pretty good about how I managed social media for Be Visible these past few days. If you would like to share your experience please do so in the comments: