How SHOULD a Business Behave After Tragedy?Anita Kirkbride
It is one of the worst tragedies I can remember. Twenty-seven people were killed by a gunman on December 14, 2012 at an elementary school in Connecticut. As a parent I cannot even begin to imagine how parents of the lost children feel. The world is talking about gun control and mental illness, hoping and praying this will never happen again. Parents are hugging their children a little longer.
The old saying “There’s one in every crowd” was never more evident than when I found this discussion happening on the Victims of SandyHook Facebook page…the same day as the massacre.
So many questions about this person. Was she sincerely trying to help and just got it wrong? Was she greedy and trying to mask it with donations? Was she just insensitive? I don’t know. I can’t possibly know her true intentions. And therein lies a big problem with social media: You cannot always make your true intentions clear.
For businesses who are in the social space, a bigger question is “How can a business help in such a tragic situation, without appearing callous?” Here are some thoughts:
- Don’t hijack someone else’s page, or thread, asking people to come like your page.
- Don’t link your “help” to new likes, or new sales, from people on that page.
- Announce your donations in your own space. Don’t use your generosity as an attempt to grow your following.
- Spend time building your community and reputation on your own page so that when you say “We’re donating today’s sales to XYZ”, people know you well enough to see that its altruistic.
Another question for businesses: Should you or shouldn’t you post about the tragedy? If a business posts about the tragedy, even as simple as “Our hearts go out to the victims”, is that ok? Or is even that type of post insensitive when it comes from a business? The more I saw these posts on Facebook and Twitter, the more I felt they were “forced”, or trite…not genuine and heartfelt.
And finally, when is it ok to resume regularly scheduled activities on social media? Some social media managers said they had pulled all their scheduled posts for a couple of days. Others left them up but double-checked for insensitivity. Should we expect all businesses to go quiet for 24 hours out of respect? 48? A week? If a business does choose to acknowledge a tragedy, when is it ok for them to move on?
Ok. I lied…here are my last questions. Is it wrong for me to write this blog post? Does it feel like I am taking advantage of a tragedy myself? How far is too far? Where is that line?
I don’t know that I have any answers for you. I think it’s different for every business. I found myself asking these questions and not coming up with any answers. Maybe you can help me this time.