Know Before You Go: How Keeping Tabs on the Ticker Can Help Sidestep Social Media Shame

Smart, savvy social media marketers know brands need to plan ahead. Brands should have an editorial calendar that details what will be posted on the blog, Facebook and Twitter over the coming weeks. It takes planning and time to craft the perfect content to share with the community. But smart community managers also know that there are times all this has to be thrown out the window.

Community managers need to stay informed with current events and news. What is happening around the world could have an impact on the community and brands don’t want to be insensitive to that. Friday’s tragic event in Colorado is one of those times when social media practitioners need to stay agile and adjust their plans. Whether the brand is based in Colorado or on the other side of the globe, this tragedy has an impact on the whole Internet and how we all engage.

Two brands showed ignorance and insensitivity in the time after those events.

@NRA_Rifleman tweeted, “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” The tweet was deleted a few hours later and the NRA issued a statement that explained the individual responsible for the tweet was unaware of the events in Colorado. But the damage was already done. The tweet had already been retweeted, shared and seen by countless people and picked up by several news sites.

Online fashion store, Celeb Boutique, appeared to use this tragedy to sell dresses. After many hours of being blasted on Twitter and in the press, Celeb Boutique responded. They deleted the tweet and issued two tweets saying they didn’t know about the shooting in Colorado. However, they retweeted a tweet saying, “It’s a fabulous Friday” in the midst of their apology. As the anger over their tweets continued, Celeb Boutique deleted the first two apologies and the “fabulous Friday” tweet and published four tweets to further explain and apologize for their error.

Community managers are human, and everyone makes mistakes. However, when people are representing a brand online, it is important to pay attention to what is happening in the world and think about the impact. “Set it and forget it” doesn’t work in social media. Editorial calendars are fantastic tools and scheduling tweets and Facebook posts ahead of time is handy. But that doesn’t mean a brand’s social media program can run on autopilot. People engage with brands on social media because they want a social experience with the brand. They want to connect with humans, not machines.

As for Celeb Boutique’s tweet, it seems they didn’t know exactly why #Aurora was trending, but decided to use the opportunity to plug their dress. It is quite simple to find out why hashtags are trending and it should be social media 101 to look up the trend before responding. Not being based in the US shouldn’t be an excuse. As Kenneth Cole learned, the community doesn’t want ignorance or insensitivity about significant events around the globe.

What we’ve learned? Or what we should already know…

  • If you schedule tweets and Facebook posts, make sure to check them if major news breaks
  • Pay attention to current events and news from around the world, it might impact your brand
  • Check what a trend is about before using the hashtag

Hopefully other community managers and brands can learn from these mistakes so they don’t happen again then next time there is a shooting, natural disaster or other tragedy.

As for the events in Colorado, our hearts and thoughts go out to the community of Aurora. I think Matt Singley best captured my feelings in his tweet.

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