How to Communicate on Social Media when Tragedy Strikes: Experts Weigh In for SEMRush

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Recently, I was pleased to be included in the company of some fine communications professionals for an article on How to Communicate on Social Media when Tragedy Strikes: Experts Weigh In for SEMRush by Tara Clapper

I am please to share a portion of the article below, and you can read the full article at the SEMRush Blog.

How to Communicate on Social Media when Tragedy Strikes: Experts Weigh In for SEMRush

Every social media marketer or strategist must consider the inevitability of disaster. We’re not just talking about internal PR crises, but local, regional, national and world-shaping events. From an increase in mass shootings in the United States to a steady number of terrorist events worldwide, it’s time to think about how these tragedies affect our social media presence and the perception of our brand on a daily basis.

How should you prepare and respond when these events now happen so often?

Amount of terrorist attacks worldwide. Source: Statista

Amount of terrorist attacks worldwide. Source: Statista

These events occur with alarming frequency, accelerated by the 24/7 news cycle, citizen journalism and the constant availability of information on social channels, making it all the more necessary to respond (or not) appropriately and quickly.

In our own discussion about how our international brand should handle such common events with sensitivity and respect, SEMrush Social Media Manager Becky Shindell and I decided to reach out to some social media experts for their views on this difficult topic.

Here’s what the experts had to say about how brands should handle tragedies:

What is the procedure for automated social media during a crisis?

The experts agree that immediately reevaluating any scheduled or automated messages should be one of a brand’s immediate, appropriate first steps to any tragic event.

Matthew Ray

“My advice is to disable any automated social media. I am not really a fan of it in general, since the automation process really kills the ‘social’ part of the engagement. This is especially true during a crisis. When there is any kind of crisis, people want to know they are communicating with a real person – in real time. It’s a necessity.” – Matthew Ray, Principal, Co-Founder & Creative Director at ChatterBlast Media | @matropolis

Karen Masullo

“For me, the best lesson to address automated messages was the message issued by a surf shop on the morning of the Japan Tsunami; the regular, chipper morning greeting of something like ‘Surf’s Up, where are we surfing today?’ was – while in no way ill-intentioned, received very poorly. We always say don’t let your first response become the second crisis.” – Karen Masullo, Chief Intelligence Officer, EVP Business Intelligence & Social Media at Firestorm | @OPCGal

Nathan Ellering

“This may depend on the crisis, your industry, those experiencing the crisis first-hand, your followers, and the content you’re sharing. For example, if a crisis such as a shooting happens and you had planned on sharing a blog post about capitalizing on current events as a marketer that day, it makes sense to remove that blog post and all social media messages associated with it from your publishing schedule. A framework to help you in this situation is to ask yourself, ‘Is it possible for someone to misunderstand my intention behind sharing this content in light of recent events?’ If your answer is even close to yes, remove that content from your social media queue.” – Nathan Ellering, Content Marketing Lead at CoSchedule | @njellering

Continue to the full article at the SEMRush Blog

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