How to handle social during a national tragedy. I don’t know… do you?

Newtown. Now Boston. It seems all too often I’m sending out an APB to my team, “Hold all posts. Do not tweet. This is no time to market.” Each time a tragedy occurs, our team determines that we want our communities, and the communities of the brands we represent, to be able to grieve in peace, without the latest sale or coupon popping up in their face.

When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line yesterday, we immediately ceased all work, moved all scheduled posts and kept the pages dark. This morning, we were at a loss. What is appropriate to post? On a couple pages we posted the national anthem sung beautifully by this local, blind 16-year-old. 

But now what? Many of the brands we represent are local brands, right here in Louisville. They’ve got the Kentucky Derby to focus on, just 18 days away. Yet, it doesn’t feel right to talk about our sales, our promotions, our brands. Now is a time of grief, again, in the US.

I’ve written before about how there are no gurus or experts in social media, and a tragedy brings that fact to the forefront.

On Taylor Homes’ Facebook page, for example, one of our regular nightly occurrences is a funny post we share with our community between 8 and 9 pm. But last night, we simply said, “It seems all too often we’re taking a night off from being funny. Just not feeling right. Keeping the people of Boston – and all marathon runners – in our thoughts this evening.”

So the question remains… when are we allowed to step forward? When will the communities be ok with us posting funny jokes or brand-related news? For those who were in Boston yesterday, probably never. We in Kentucky know we have big events coming up and the fear has been planted, at least for me. But do we stop? Or do we go? And when?

Clients entrust their faith in us that we know what we’re doing on social media. But I guess the truth is, none of us really know what we’re doing, and as often as these tragedies occur, we still just don’t know the right thing to do, the right thing to say. I guess this is just another example of keeping social media real. So real it hurts.

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