Social Media in the Face of Terror
When the worst happens, how do you react on social media? Yesterday, as the news rolled in about the terrorist attack on Manchester, brands were left scrambling to make sure they weren't posting anything insensitive. But what should you do, as a brand, when terror strikes? Here's our guide:
Do not post as your brand. Rather, post as the people behind the brand. It's humans that were hurt or killed in an attack, and it's humans that will react to terror. A genuine expression of compassion from person-to-person is far more applicable in these types of moments.
In the face of tragedy, it's always best to stop posting. Generally, the rule of thumb is to stop posting for 24 hours if the incident is international, while posting can be inappropriate for as long as a week if the attack is closer to home. The lines have blurred over the years, and as terrorist attacks become more common place many brands just forego the "Stop Posting" rule. However, if you are sensitive to these types of incidents, or if you'd like to align your brand with compassion (and we recommend you do, because behind brands are humans, and we all care about these types of incidents) we recommend to be mindful of such rules.
Posting About the Incident
There is a fine line between compassion and exploitation. It is fine to post a message of condolences and solidarity, but there are a few points that need to be considered when doing so. First, do not tie that post to profitability of any kind (IE: Don't offer a discount on UK flags along with a post about the Manchester attack). Second, if you can personalize the post, then do so. When 9/11 happened, I posted a personal message to my brand MySpace with a picture of my staff and I holding up signs to show our support. A basic graphic is fine, but try to personalize it. Again, these types of incidents deserve the human touch. Third, with international incidents there can be a language barrier. For example, gift in English means poison in German. Make sure you're checking that content before it goes out.
Ads & Sponsored Posts
Stop all ads for 24 hours, period.
After some time has gone by, don't revisit the incident as a brand. Do so from your personal profiles. Revisiting an attack can come off as exploitation. There are only select exceptions to this rule, and they come in the form of businesses that were directly impacted by the incident.