Social media is a unique formula of relevant content, engaged fans, and perfect timing. However, to be social responsible when responding to world events a touch of compassion and logical thought is a necessity.
Social responsibility in business is all about balancing your companies need for economic development with the welfare of society and the environment. Major corporations such as Disney, Microsoft, and Ben & Jerry’s are leaders in social responsibility so by being cognoscente you will be in great company.
When striking world events occur a grey area for response is created, the following is how to respond to those worldly events online.
When a global event first happens you need to determine if the situation is relevant to your company and if a posting is within your social media policy. Questions to ask are:
• Did this directly affect my company?
• Did this directly affect my consumers?
• Did this directly affect areas of company operation?
• Is this situation relevant to my product or brand?
If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions then you can begin formulating an online response. Unfortunately, you can’t post about every important world event due to sheer amount of continuous happenings.
In cases of extreme disaster and breaking news you need to remain calm and your online platforms need to reflect this attitude. If you’re not careful your content could be misinformation, which feeds the public’s confusion and creates a panicked frenzy. When the Boston Bombing occurred in 2013 media outlets and individuals took to social media and spread information they thought to be true. The Boston Police Department (BPD) determined that those untrue social media posts were causing greater panic in the city. So, because the event directly affected their company, consumers, and areas of operation the BPD wisely took to social media. This has revolutionized how Twitter can be utilized in moments of ciaos.
When generating a response online to a global event the following guidelines should be considered:
• When generating content make sure it is relevant to your brand and business.
• Word choice is key here. You don’t want to select words that could be misconstrued as mocking or making light of the situation.
• In moments of debate stay neutral, refrain from going on the attack or playing defense.
One event companies have improperly handled is Ferguson, Missouri. They allowed emotion to dictate the response and in the process they offended sects of their consumers.
One major thing to avoid is using a tragedy to promote your business. This comes off as tacky and undoes all of your work to be socially responsible. In addition, your company will face backlash from individuals who disapprove of your posting(s). Another key is to check your scheduled posts after a global event occurs because you could have something on cue that could unintentionally be offensive. Make sure you check the trending hashtags and know their meanings before you post; other companies have inappropriately incorporated insensitive hashtags.
This tweet was posted shortly after the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. It is speculated that American Rifleman had this tweet scheduled prior to the tragedy.
Here Kenneth Cole tried to capitalize on the unrest in Egypt to promote his newest clothing line.
Here is another example of a how a company tried to exploit a tragedy for financial gain.
Responding to a world event online can be tricky because you don’t want to offend anymore or appear insensitive. The backlash from improper postings can stick with your company for a substantial period of time, and once a company receives a negative stigma it’s hard to shed. Sometimes a simple, “Our hearts and thoughts are with those affected by this horrible tragedy,” will suffice. With that in mind proceed with compassion and respect for those affected by the event.