Eileen Fisher: GigaMom


Respectful Social Media

Tragic Events Are Not A Time To Sell Or Shock

The events that happened Monday at the Boston Marathon were shocking, horrific and sad. Moments after the bombs went off, social media was abuzz with questions about it. People nearby who heard the bombs were wondering what had happened. People who had friends and family in the race were wondering where their loved ones were. And then, people who were in the actual area started to tweet and post images of the area.

Shocking, horrible, graphic images. One in particular that I saw being shared many times, showed the area of what must have been the impact point of one of the bombs. It was upsetting, to say the least. Slowly, more and more images came out on Twitter and Facebook. Videos of the blast showed up on Youtube and Vine. I won’t describe them here, it’s likely you saw them or know the ones I am talking about.

A few of the posts began with “Warning: Graphic Images/Disturbing Content.” Guess what? That actually just makes people click on the link. Seriously. Putting a warning in the post doesn’t take away from the fact that the image is of someone who is seriously injured or dead. His or her life has been forever changed or lost. Show some respect.

There is so much that social media can be good for. Sharing graphic images like those that were posted everywhere yesterday is not one of them.

Along with that, the other thing that upset me about what I was reading on Twitter and Facebook yesterday was seeing posts by brands who had clearly scheduled posts and had not taken them down after the bombings happened.

I had to say it:

Believe me when I tell you, as a community manager, I understand the value of being able to schedule tweets and Facebook posts for a brand. And yes, there was an occurrence when I had sent out a scheduled post, not knowing of a tragic event that had just happened. That’s why I’m emphasizing the importance of this now. I will never forget the time when once, on my day off I went about my business confident that my posts were scheduled and unknowingly, the shooting at Newton happened. I was extremely lucky to have someone that I work with who knew I was offline that day send me a quick text to give me a heads up moments after my tweet went out. I felt awful.

That day was a huge lesson for me, and since then I’ve lived by these tips;

 If you’re a community manager, you need to have someone to back you up when you are not online. Someone who can let you know if something has happened, or who can edit your posts for you.

 If you work on your own for a brand, it’s worthwhile to sign up for breaking news alerts from an app such as CNN or CTV. Make sure you have push notifications enabled for the app.

 Even though you are technically offline, you have a responsibility to the brand you are representing to ensure they are not reflected badly by sending out a poorly timed scheduled tweet.

 Nothing is worth promoting when something like Colorado, Newtown, or Boston has happened. Nothing.

Although it’s hard to do, when something like the bombing at the Boston Marathon happens, we need to weed through the tweets and Facebook posts that focus on the horror and tragedy, forget about promoting our brands and do more of this:

That is using social media power for good and it is how we show respect for those who are directly affected by tragedy.