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?

A Facebook and Twitter Primer, Part 2

This is the second part of a two part primer on social networking giants Facebook and Twitter.  The first part gives basic information on using Facebook.  This post will cover basic information on Twitter.  This primer came about when a client asked me to send him an email on how to use the two sites.  The information I emailed him ended up being longer than he was likely expecting.  When I was finished, it occurred to me that I could re-purpose this information into a two part blog post.  Bear in mind when reading this that I’ve edited it somewhat, but it was originally written in more of an email format than a blog post format.

This isn’t a complete textbook on Twitter, nor was it meant to be.  It’s merely some information to get you started.  Whether you’re just learning, or you’re a social networking pro, please be sure to follow me on Twitter, at @stevemullen!

A Primer on Twitter

facebook-twitterWhile Twitter and Facebook have some similarities in what they’re used FOR (at least when it comes to business), the atmosphere at each is very different.  Using Facebook privacy settings, you can control who sees your posts.  On Twitter, everything is out in the open for all to see.  Additionally, there’s the 140-character limit to deal with on Twitter, which means posts are usually limited to a sentence or two and a link.

>>Continue reading…

New Twitter-Only Handheld

twitterpeekI just read on Mashable about the official release of the Twitter Peek, a new handheld Internet device that connects only to Twitter.  It’s a head-scratcher.  Obviously, any smartphone out there will connect to Twitter one way or another.  The price is good ($199.99 with lifetime mobile service included or $99.99 with six months included and then a monthly fee) but it seems to me that purchasing a smartphone makes a lot more sense because it can accomplish other tasks, like .. well .. making phonecalls.  Peek is known better for their handheld email-only devices.

Regardless of whether the product makes sense or anyone will buy it, I think it’s an interesting statement on how much Twitter is weaving itself into our lives.  Have you ever seen a Facebook-only device?  Yeah … me neither.

5 Steps to Proper Setup & Feeding of Twitter

twitter_birdIf you’re a member of the Twitter Elite (Twelite? Tweelite?) or even a regular user of Twitter, you probably already know everything there is to know about setting up your Twitter account.  This post is for everyone else.

I’m surprised at the number of people who have 1,000+ followers, but haven’t filled out the basic information that Twitter allows.  In fact, when I see an account with a mess of followers but no details, I automatically assume they’re playing the Twitter Numbers Game, and don’t follow the person.

Below are a list of five tasks that I feel are required for a successful Twitter account:

>>Continue reading…

Social Network Saturation?

There’s an interesting article at Mashable today about data suggesting that Facebook and Twitter traffic is flattening.  According to the article:

Somewhere in June […] Twitter stopped growing, at least according to Compete. The same thing happened to Facebook (Facebook) at the exact same time; at first we’ve attributed the traffic numbers to the summer slumber, but now that Compete’s numbers for September are out, there’s no doubt that both Facebook and Twitter are no longer growing, at least in the eyes of the (admittedly US-centric) Compete.

>>Continue reading…

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