Social Media and Tragedy: What BlogHer Does and Why
By Elisa Camahort on April 18, 2013
BlogHer Original Post
For us, it's the right call to be mindful and purposeful when sharing in the wake of such events. And since it's our job to help brands or customers navigate the social web and make a positive impact in our community, to give them counsel and advice, we also believe it's the right thing to do to help them be just as mindful. We act first; we act quickly. Then we give our customers a heads up about why that tweet won't go out, or that post may not go live right away. We actually think that's part of why they pay us.
We've seen a lot of confusion and discussion within our own community about what we, as bloggers, should do, so we've put together a specific checklist of actions we take -- and for you to consider taking -- when tragic news is breaking.
Social Media Checklist When Bad News Breaks
- Disconnect your automatic and scheduled posts, both to your blog and your social media, as soon as you can. If you are out of town or away from computer, see if you can at least get a friend to send a tweet saying so. (It's a really smart idea to have a backup admin plan in place for all your media, especially if you have brand-related promotional posts scheduled, since any backlash could be toward both you and the brand you're paid to represent.)
- If you are working with brands, notify them that you are doing so, so they can adjust their schedules accordingly. Let them know that you are monitoring the situation and that you will resume as soon as you deem it safe for the brand message to go out. Be confident that you have been hired as a consultant because you know your community, and that your counsel in tough situations is as important as any other advice you may give.
- Speak from the heart on the events, if you're moved to do so.
- Don't force yourself to speak on the subject, if you're not moved to do so. It's OK to be quiet. Social media is probably pretty loud right now.
- Avoid making a public announcement that you're being sensitive to the tragedy. Though feel free to take action (sharing resources, asking helpful questions, mobilizing community).
- Retweet news items judiciously. Be a journalist and ask yourself: What is the source? Are multiple news sources saying the same thing? If you choose to share something unconfirmed, note that it is UNCONFIRMED.
- Avoid publicly judging others' use of social media or defending or trumpeting your own. Let it go. Everyone's emotions are strained during times of crisis, and pausing before jumping into the fray can be an act of kindness to everyone.
- Let your social media streams and your own sense of judgment be your guide as to when you return to regularly scheduled posts. What you usually blog about is very relevant: If your blog is about running marathons, or Boston travel, for instance, it may take longer for you to resume regular posts, because your content will be more sensitive than, say, a food blogger's will.
- Review your regularly scheduled posts for inappropriate wording and images -- in this case, "explosion," "bomb," the metaphorical use of "marathon" all would probably best be avoided.
I hope this checklist, in whole or in part, is helpful to you as you make your decisions. Below are some more thoughtful discussions and tips on this topic. Please do add your own insight in the comments.
More excellent ideas and interesting discussions
- Getting Attention has a fantastically thorough checklistto consider, especially if you are promoting a business
- A sensitive discussion on Playground Confidential
- Search Engine Watch has some real-life examples of what not to do
- Life With Ladies shares her Social Media Breathe Rule
- A great post by Blogging & Social Media Editor Melissa Ford about how we connect through social media in crisis
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