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17 April 2013


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Rick Hardy

Hear, hear, Karen. Well said.

One would think this would be common sense, but because social media has different purposes for different organizations, some organizations don't even see the PR implications of how they handle social media. If an organization (or person) doesn't see social media as an opportunity for community engagement and management, but rather sees it as just another advertising media option--only tweeting about itself and its products--it probably hasn't developed the empathy needed for times of crisis arise when its community is grieving. Ugh.

Karen Russell

I hadn't thought of it in exactly that way, but you're absolutely right, Rick. Part of the problem is a fundamental difference of opinion about how social media should be used at any time, not just during an organizational crisis or a tragedy of any sort.

A company that relies on multiple employee Twitter accounts, for instance, is going to have a completely different approach than a company that has one official account that speaks in a corporate voice. And, as you say, an organization that looks at Twitter as a broadcast medium can't possibly respond the same way that an organization well-integrated into a larger Twitter community would. Thanks for your comment.

Heather Yaxley

Karen - I'm not a fan of scheduled Tweets generally, and of course, they can be inappropriate in the light of a crisis situation. However, Twitter is a global medium. Personal and public issues occur every day somewhere in the world. The Boston bombing is a big news story globally, but why should nothing else run on Twitter from companies or individuals then, compared to when any other major or specific incident occurs?

Should every shop have closed in the world when the news of the bombing broke? Should companies cease all advertising or direct phone calls?

Yes, organisations need to be sensitive, but it appears potentially as US hubris to expect different behaviour for this crisis than for say, a major bombing or incident elsewhere in the world.

Karen Russell

Thanks for commenting, Heather.

As I said in the post, I do NOT think everyone should "go dark and go home," and I agree with the post linked above that suggests not every organization should even comment on a tragedy. I do think, however, that if you're promoting something in an area that is in the middle of experiencing a tragedy a degree of sensitivity is due.

My larger point is that how an organization behaves in a crisis situation is indicative of bigger things -- for example, as you point out, the reliance on scheduled tweets at all, which may not be obvious in a non-crisis situation, suddenly becomes startlingly apparent.

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