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Social Media “Fails” – and Guidelines – in Crises

June 5, 2013

In a post today on Bulldog Reporter titled When Tragedy Strikes, Does Social Media Provide the Human Touch?, Melissa Monahan, Senior Vice President at Boston-based Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, notes how many of us now turn to social media to share our thoughts, as well as looking for news updates, using the Boston Marathon bombing and the recent Oklahoma tornadoes as examples (https://www.bulldogreporter.com/dailydog/article/when-tragedy-strikes-does-social-media-provide-the-human-touch).

Monahan cites a recent Buzzfeed account of social media fails by companies that should know better (http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/19-companies-that-made-huge-social-media-fails): read it and cringe!

She also offers several cogent social media guidelines for communicating in a crisis, good reminders, all:

  • Immediately turn off your auto/scheduled tweets that highlight a product, event or blog post unrelated to this event.
  • Humor is tough to convey through the written word, never mind in 140 characters or a Facebook post so err on the side of caution and don’t do it. If you do, be prepared for the backlash.
  • Especially in the early stages of a tragedy don’t make it political. It is normal to want to blame someone/something when an unthinkable tragedy occurs but politicizing a tragedy—especially when events are so fresh—can be seen as extremely callous and could cost you credibility and followers.
  • If you are going to do something for people impacted by said tragedy do it for the right reasons and not simply to get PR. After the Marathon bombings, some companies hit the mark with their efforts. In particular, I was struck at the email by Boston-based Rue La La (http://on.fb.me/11rbu0J) to members. It was timely, simple, not self-promotional and direct.

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