How can you tell the difference between a company that is marketing, branding or actually caring?

As a marketer in today’s world it’s increasingly common to need a strategic approach for a variety of unforeseen happenings. Whether it’s a weather disaster, a local tragedy or a growing national concern, social media requires an approach that is above all things human, authentic and sincere.

It’s September 11th as I’m writing this, and today I was reflecting on the various posts clients, colleague-owned businesses and friends share today. As I was thinking ‘should Witmer Group post something’, nothing seemed to fully capture the sentiment I was feeling. In addition, over the last three weeks we’ve had to deal with the close-to-home effects of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and as well as Hurricane Irma over in Florida.

The truth is that all events affect each of us in unique ways. So, the same could be said for how a company is affected. Since a company is a collection of individuals working towards a greater goal, it would make sense that they have their own ways of responding to these same events.

I want to share a few of my personal thoughts on the Do’s and Don’ts of social media sharing during tragedies and reflective times.

DO pause planned posts: When using automation for social sharing it’s important to have a plan in effect for unforeseen happenings. If something happens, have a process in place to pause any planned social activity that would suddenly appear highly insensitive at this moment. Put the post on pause and revisit it as the events unfold.

DO pause planned email communications: This same ‘pause and see’ approach should be used with scheduled email communications.

DON’T make it about you: When it comes to pushing out a company post of support, sympathy or condolences, it’s especially critical to avoid anything that appears self-serving. A post that says, ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of X’ could be a simple statement appreciated by all. Add a #hashtag to the post and suddenly you are a company trying to be seen by the public – this could be perceived as a self-serving act.

DON’T force a statement: If it seems too early to say anything or if you don’t have the right words at that moment don’t force it. Wait for the right words and the right time.

DO something good and tell people about it: If you or your organization are working to supply food, raising dollars, running a phone bank, etc., it’s a perfectly fine time to share how you’ve chosen to act. This isn’t boasting, this is a way to show others how they can help – something that often brings people together in a beautiful way.

DO evaluate the situation: Take a look at your own news feed and the general chatter on social sites. This will help you evaluate the level of sentiment going on in the public as well as the various events unfolding.

The bottom line is that when it comes to social posts for disasters, days of remembrance and tragedies there are do’s and don’ts, but at the end of the day every situation is going to require its own intentional review of what’s a ‘good idea’ and what’s a ‘bad idea’. The most important thing continues to be the focus on human, authentic, sincere communication – this will help you establish next steps in what content your company shares.