Should Scheduled Tweets be Shut Off When a Tragedy Hits the News?

This post was prompted by an exchange I saw on Twitter. A Tweep was admonishing an “Influencer” for not halting all scheduled Tweets when it appeared a tragedy was unfolding, again, at Virginia Tech last week. The complainant felt that it was callous to not halt the scheduled Tweets in the midst of such a tragedy. The Influencer felt that his work life didn’t cease every time there was a tragedy.

I side with the Influencer. The reality is that tragedies happen everyday; some draw more national attention than others. Some touch our smaller local communities. How should we react when tragedy strikes?

There is the business reaction, and their is our human reaction.

In a Utopian, compassionate world we would shut off our computers, tune into the tragedy, and cease doing business.

And we’d all go broke.

Of course we can’t shut off business when something awful happens in the world, and pre-scheduled Tweets are part of marketing for many businesses. Ensuring that those Tweets don’t offend is what your PR/Social Media department is responsible for. When a tragedy of note occurs, your Community Managers need to be even more plugged in and sensitive to the discussions on your pages/platforms.

Depending upon your customer’s expectations, you need to have your Social Media Manager(s) connected so that they know when a blow up is happening on your page and can respond in a measured, respectful and timely way to each and every dust up. This is where the oft missed STRATEGY comes in; part of your Social Media plan needs to include having the right people manning your online voice so that they know how to respond to these type of events. Businesses without such a plan leave themselves open to the kind of PR nightmares we all read about far too often.