It seems that today’s social media managers are increasingly tasked with making game time decisions in extremely difficult situations. On the brink of inauguration (and not even two weeks after the Capitol attack), social leaders are preparing for another stressful, tense week that could require last-minute action on their branded platforms. Finding out if – and what – to post amid a crisis is far from easy, and a poorly timed social post can tarnish even the best brands. As social media managers prepare for the uncertain week and year ahead, here are some tactics that can help out in the chaos.
Take it day after day
Social media managers should take it one day at a time as they assess the current political climate during the housewarming week. If you keep your pulse on conversations and feelings through social listening, managers can read the room better when deciding whether their brand’s social strategy should work as usual or be silent. The current mood on social media related to the inauguration is largely negative, as many are concerned about violence and others question a legitimate choice. Everyone should realize that there is a lot of control on the Internet at the moment, and be especially thoughtful when making statements about initiation.
Although the inauguration takes place on Wednesday, keeping track of the news and events leading up to the day is crucial in formulating a strategy for posting or pausing content. Having a well-defined Plan A and Plan B ensures that the decisions made during the housewarming week are clear and swift regardless of the scenario. For example, my company plans to pause organic content on Wednesday and resume posting on Thursday if events go smoothly. If there is violence or riot we will pause on all paid and organic products until the end of the week and reevaluate over the weekend if we deem it appropriate to resume content. Finally, social media managers should keep Wednesday as free from meetings as possible in case a crisis or unexpected event arises and all hands on deck are required.
Look at the industry
In evaluating a social strategy in a time of crisis, industry is vital. Brands with products or services that might be seen as opportunistic to publish or advertise in times of crisis should take a close look at their editorial calendar this week. Unless it’s extremely time sensitive, sometimes it’s best to play it safe, which is why many brands pause organic content on inauguration day. Consumer brands should consider pausing paid spending if their consumer base is wide. Turning off paid media for a day or two shouldn’t affect the effectiveness of your campaign targeting, and it will ensure ads won’t run during a potential crisis. Social media managers should also work closely with PR partners, as some brands are expected to issue statements condemning violence should it occur. By keeping an eye on the emerging brands, you can give executives social ideas on how others are reacting across industries. Make a list of brands, add them to a Twitter list, and check in regularly to see what statements they make over the week.
Talk to your colleagues
Those of us who work on social media are like one big, dysfunctional family. Nobody understands the pain and difficulty of working in difficult times like these better than your colleagues. Discuss your plan of attack, borrow decision-making frameworks, and share possible answers with one another.
Lastly, remember to check in on your social media teams during times like this. You are exhausted and emotionally burdened by what feels like an endless run of fire drills. In many companies, social media is run by an individual or a small team that has the weight of tough decisions on their shoulders. We work tirelessly around the clock to monitor such situations and have no way of distributing the news when we need a break. Whether it’s simple supportive text or whether the social team has a mental health day off, the extra support during difficult weeks like this can make a huge difference.