Five Rules for Social Media Brand Management During a National Crisis

Before I get too far into this topic, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon.  It was and is the definition of senseless violence.


social mediaIt’s a very modern thing, and unfortunately it’s happened lately with increasing frequency — our entire nation mourning via social media.  The latest incident was the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  If you went on Facebook or Twitter yesterday afternoon, the vast majority of the posts you saw were expressing condolences or passing along details of what happened.

Unfortunately, what you also saw mixed with the heartfelt and personal messages of shock and grief were branded messages that had nothing at all to do with the horrifying events of the day.  The companies behind those messages either weren’t thinking when they posted them, or scheduled them hours or even days in advance and then walked away.

How bad and damaging these non sequitur posts are is up for debate.  Peter Shankman, one of the true gurus (although he may hate that word) of social media, is particularly bothered by them and thinks they’re significantly damaging to a brand when they happen.  He would most likely believe that this blog post is unnecessary as social media managers should know better by now.  But, obviously if it’s still happening then more education is needed.  That’s why I present my Five Rules for Social Media Brand Management During a National Crisis:

  1. Pay attention. You can’t afford to go into a rabbit hole and not pay attention to the news. Knowing what’s going on in the world is part of the job of a social media manager.
  2. It’s okay to be personal.  Posting a short and very concise message of sympathy for the victims is not only okay, it reminds your audience that your brand is made up of people.  Be very careful in the wording, however, and make it genuine. 
  3. Shut down.  Remove all non-relevant scheduled Tweets and Facebook posts, and stow them away for another day.  Not only will no one pay attention to them, continuing with “business as usual” may actually harm your brand as your audience may see you as not caring.  The exception to this rule is if your company has a personal connection to the tragedy.  Obviously, posting (for example) that the team your firm put together to run in the race is safe and sound is different than a branded message.
  4. Adhere to the 24-hour rule. Other than a short condolence message, it’s best to stay “dark” with branded messages on social media for at least a day after the incident breaks.  When you return to normalcy is a judgement call, but 24 hours should be the minimum.
  5. Let common sense be your guide. An hour or two before the Newtown school shooting, I posted a silly picture for “Friday fun” on a client’s Facebook page.  An hour or two after the news broke, I was planning to post a weekly winner in a contest we were running.  When I heard about the shooting, I not only scrapped the contest winner post, I also deleted the silly picture, as it no longer seemed appropriate.  In the end, if it doesn’t feel right then delete it or don’t do it in the first place.

And, a bonus: Help.  If your business is in a position to give help to victims or families, obviously give it but don’t brag about it. That’s not social media savvy … it’s just being good people.

What do you think? Am I missing a rule that should be included?

Facebook Gravy Train Nearing the End of the Line

For years, businesses have set up shop on Facebook for free, gaining unfettered access to its hoards (one billion probably qualifies as many hoards) of users.

Those days are over.

Since going public and watching the company’s stock prices go far below what was expected, those who rule at Facebook have made it harder and harder for businesses to successfully reach their audience on the social media platform without paying for it.

It used to be that you’d start a page, gather fans (now “likes”), and when you posted something on the page, your fans would see the post if they were online around the time you posted it.

Later, Facebook decided IT knows best what people want to see on their own news feeds.  After that change, when your fans logged in and went to their news feeds, they MIGHT see what you posted.  This potentially reduced the reach the posts on your pages would have, but in the end it was still a system that worked well enough and could be optionally supplemented with paid Facebook advertising.

Recently, Facebook made changes to the algorithm, called “EdgeRank”, that it uses to decide what posts are shown on your fans’ news feeds.  These changes may have gone too far for some page owners.  The algorithm takes a number of factors into account to decide who sees your posts.  The recent EdgeRank change, which supposedly happened on September 20 but has been said to have started as early as the end of August, was reportedly made to “de-clutter” news feeds.  What it really did was make room for more sponsored posts.  After this “de-cluttering” change happened, page owners found that the reach of their posts was cut anywhere from 40 to 70-percent.

With this change and the addition of sponsored posts, Facebook is essentially saying that we have to pay to reach a higher percentage of people who opted in to receive our information by clicking “like”.  In fact, we have to pay to reach the percentage that we reached this summer!

So, what’s a business owner to do?  Here are some options:

  1. Pay the piper: Fortunately, Facebook advertising is not terribly expensive, and can be worked into the budget of all but the smallest businesses.  Either use paid banner ads to boost your number of “likes” or use the money to purchase sponsored posts for your most important information.
  2. Squeeze out what you can: Take a look at what you’re posting, when you’re posting it, and who is being targeted.  Make sure you’re posting interesting materials with as many bright pictures and/or videos.  Also, look at your Facebook Insights to ensure that you’re posting at the best time of day.  Finally, use Facebook’s targeting tools to target your key audiences with the right posts.  The more that individuals interact with your page, the higher the chance will be that they’ll see your posts in the future.  In the end, you’ll still have to get used to the idea that your reach numbers are going to be lower than they used to be.
  3. Look for alternatives: Perhaps Facebook isn’t your cup of tea anymore.  It’s not sensible to completely abandon it, since it’s by far the largest social media outlet, but maybe for your business it would be a good idea to expend some energy on Pinterest, Twitter, or even LinkedIn.

What it comes down to is that going forward a successful Facebook campaign will almost be required to include an advertising budget in addition to the man hours it takes to manage it.

New EndGame PR Client Can Teach the World About IT

I’m completely thrilled to announce that EndGame PR is now working with Unisys!  Unisys is a company that for 135 years has been providing technology to make life and business easier.  We’ll be producing a series of podcasts featuring executives from the company talking about the unique insights the company can give on IT solutions and supporting a global workforce.  With 29,000 employees worldwide, Unisys has a lot to share with IT decision makers, and we can’t wait to help them share it!

New Client Website: A Nest is Born

We’re finishing work on an all new client website this week, and it’s one of our favorites because of the design and the client! Neatest Nest is a brand new professional organizing business that is being started by a very good friend of mine, Becky Santelli. My family has known hers for about 10 years, and I can’t think of a better person to come into your “nest” and get it in order!

Becky wanted a clean design that reflected her business of organizing. Her new website uses light colors, clean lines, and judicious use of shadow effects to give it a 3d look in some spots. Use the link below to check it out, and if your nest needs to be neatened, be sure to give her a call!

Click here to visit Neatest Nest Professional Organizing Service, based in Mechanicsville (near Richmond), Virginia.

Facebook Timeline for Pages = Anti-Community?

Imagine you have a branded page on Facebook.  Perhaps you’re a marketing professional managing it for a client or an employer.  You’ve worked hard to grow your “fan” base on Facebook and turn those fans into brand ambassadors.  Maybe a few of those fans even check in every single day to say hello or to ask a question.   Then … this happens:

  1. Facebook changes the rules, making those fan posts significantly less prominent.
  2. Your fans notice.
  3. They don’t feel like they’re “front and center” anymore.
  4. Perhaps they even stop posting because they figure no one will see their posts anyhow.
  5. All of your hard work has been wasted.

The above situation is a possibility that Facebook page administrators are dealing with, or will be dealing with after this weekend when the new Timeline for Pages format pushes out to everyone.

Click for a larger view.

Previously, posts from fans on a page were given the same weight as posts from the administrator, so long as the administrator allowed fan posts.  In the new Timeline format, that’s truly not the case.  While a few fan posts may make it into the “stream” the majority of them are now relegated to a small box on the right side of the page.  If you look at the image to the right, you’ll see the “Posts by Others” box outlined in red.  For the most part, this is the only place you’ll see posts by non-administrators.

You can switch the page view to show ONLY posts by others. If you click on a small grayed-out box above the main stream of posts (outlined in green in my screenshot) you can show views such as only posts by non-admins or posts only by your friends who are also fans of the page.  I’d wager, however, that most people won’t notice that button or bother with it.

It’s completely inexplicable that Facebook would set pages up this way when they claim to be all about sharing and community.  Most of the reason that people bother to post on social media sites is to be recognized.  If their posts are hard to find, it ceases to be worth the time.

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