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Social Media Etiquette During a Tragedy

Social Media Etiquette During a Tragedy

When there’s a tragedy that the nation’s eyes are fixed upon, what is the social media etiquette for your business?

Do you go on as “as usual” or get caught up in the news as well?

As the Boston Marathon explosion occurred on April 15, 2013, people all across social media flooded the networks with expressions of condolences, concerns, and prayers in addition to news links and imagery. During this time, I watched as brands and celebrities rapidly directed their social posts to acknowledge the situation. Lucrazon included.

I also watched as brands continue on their regular posts like nothing had happened both on Facebook and on Twitter. This could only mean their social team either wasn’t aware of the situation or/ did not have a procedure in place on how to react during an emergency.

Here are some etiquette tips to make sure your business reacts accordingly to situations like these:

Turn off Auto-Posting Temporarily

If you use a tool to schedule your tweets/posts ahead of time (e.g. Hootsuite, Buffer), be sure to either turn these off temporarily or post-pone to assess the situation and figure out next steps.

When your customers see regular business postings in the midst of a tragedy, it will be regarded as in poor taste as the last thing they want to see is an insensitive promotion.

Instead, understand the situation, and what your customers have their attention upon. If your brand/business can offer any assistance that’s relevant to the situation, then it’ll be an appropriate time to offer it.

Also, take a closer look at your future posts to see if any of them should be post-poned even further.

Cheery and full-on marketing messages should be saved until after the situation has ebbed.

Offer Your Genuine Support

Whether it’s a simple one-line post/tweet, or any other medium of support, offer it. This shows empathy and compassion from your brand/business when typically they’re considered as just a “brand.”

MasterCard condolences to Boston Marathon

Entrepreneur Condolences to Boston Marathon

Slater's Condolences to Boston Marathon

Lucrazon's Condolences to Boston Marathon

And when offering support, offer it in a genuine way.

Epicurious, a food website, threw Twitter into a flurry with the following tweets:

Epicurious Insensitive Tweets On Boston Marathon

This is a prime example of what not to do, mixing both support and a marketing message in one.

It’s similar to the American Apparel and Urban Outfitters marketing messages during Hurricane Sandy last year.

For Epicurious, they spent the rest of the day apologizing to those that called them out.

Epicurious Apologizes to Customers

They've since then deleted the offensive tweets, and there are no traces of the apologies left in their timeline. In addition, they’ve stayed silent since their formal apology on Tuesday.

What do you first notice in the apology image? Perhaps that they all look the same?

It is one thing to formally apologize to a group, but if you’re to make the decision to respond to EACH individual, there should be some sort of personalization instead of a mass copy/paste.

In addition, their apology used the wording “seemed insensitive” instead of “were insensitive.”

They acknowledge that in their apology tweet that sits at the top of their Twitter page:

By offering genuine support, you’re humanizing your brand/business which is what consumers gravitate towards. In general, use common sense and judgment, and pause to think if what you’re posting during a tragic situation is appropriate or not. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes!

Be authentic, show compassion, and your customers will remember.

How have you handled the situation this week?

With Boston in our thoughts,

+Alice Ly
Social Media Manager

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