This blog post is not one I had planned on writing. Not one that was on my schedule. But it light of the horrific attack that took place in Manchester on Monday night, I felt a need to write it as it’s something I have been asked a lot since. When should you stop posting on your social media?
I woke up to the news of the bomb in Manchester and that was quickly followed by a stream of DMs from clients who were rescheduling all their posts for that day. We chatted, via DM, and agreed it was the correct thing to do, for the morning at least. People were shocked, Facebook and Twitter was full of people’s thoughts about the incident. Some were trying to find loved ones. Some were sharing useful numbers. Some were offering and organising help. It was a horrifying yet warming scene. Something truly awful had happened but people were pulling together, using social media for good, to allow information to reach more people faster than would have been possible previously. Now. How does a product post fit that picture? Is it appropriate to be shouting about your successes when others are distraught? Should you be telling everyone why they should spend their money on your services when some people have had their world torn apart overnight?
Sounds harsh, doesn’t it. It sounds like I’m having a real go at people who chose to post, doesn’t it? Let me explain.
When should you stop posting on social media?
After being involved in the world of marketing and PR for a very long time, I view things differently to your average person. I look at the possible impact on a brand when something is worded incorrectly, when customer service falls below par, when the packaging isn’t fitting. And also I have children and various other life experiences that change how I views things. We all do. People view terrorism differently too. Some people believe that we are letting the terrorists win by changing what we as a nation do – by letting their actions impact on our daily lives. I get that. But that’s not why my clients halted their social media activities. I think it’s fair to say that they gave little/no thought to the terrorists when they made their decision to pull their social media posts. They were thinking of the families and the people involved. It didn’t feel right to tell people to go and look at a new product or anything of the sort. Some chose to share a message of support. Some chose to share useful numbers. Some waited until much later in the day, when people’s initial shock had subsided and they had started to come to terms with it all.
Was it right to hold back? I personally think so. Social media is social and it’s important to read the mood as much as it is to read a room when you enter it and talk about relevant things. Were people wrong who posted? Not necessarily – well, not in my eyes BUT there are lots of caveats to that. I think some people were. Their own beliefs matter and also the actual content would make a big difference. I saw some posts that were done very well and some than made me wince. Physically wince. Would these posts have made me wince on a normal day? Maybe, but not as much.
Luckily we don’t see that many events on this scale, but in our own niches bad things happen. Horses and riders can sometimes die or sustain horrific injuries in various equestrian sports, drivers die racing, players become paralysed playing rugby. These are all tragic. So what do you do then? Do you carry on as normal or do you adjust your content and your tone appropriately. I would say the latter.
What do you think? Did you stop posting on social media?
It’s not about letting terrorists win. It’s about being human and being respectful to people who are suffering. How you decide to do that is up to you. That might be carrying on as normal or it might be changing your social media plan for the day. But just one final thought – if you’re unsure and you don’t post… will anyone be upset?