How to handle social media this inaugural week

It seems that more and more, today’s social media managers are tasked with making decisions at the time of play in extremely difficult situations. On the precipice of the inauguration (and not even two weeks the attack on Capitol Hill), social leaders are gearing up for what is sure to be another stressful and tense week that may require last-minute action for their brand platforms. Understand if – and what – to publish in the middle of a crisis, it’s anything but simple, and a poorly programmed social message can tarnish even the best brands. As social media executives prepare for the uncertain week and year ahead, here are some tactics that can help amid the chaos.

Take it day by day

Social media executives should take it one day at a time when assessing the current political climate during inauguration week. Keeping the pulse of conversations and feelings up through social listening can help managers read the play when deciding whether their brand’s social strategy should be business as usual or be quiet. The current sentiment on social media around the inauguration is overwhelmingly negative, with many concerned about the violence and others questioning a legitimate election. Everyone should recognize that there is a lot of control on the internet right now and be very thoughtful when writing the statements around the grand opening.

While the opening takes place on Wednesday, tracking the news and events leading up to the day will be essential in formulating a strategy for posting or pausing content. Having a clearly defined plan A and plan B will ensure decisions made during the inauguration the week is clear and fast, whatever the scenario. For example, my business plan is to pause organic content on Wednesday and resume posting on Thursday if events are going seamlessly. If there is violence or unrest, we will pause on anything paid and organic until the end of the week and re-evaluate over the weekend when we deem it appropriate to resume content. Finally, social media managers should keep Wednesdays as free from meetings as possible if crises or unforeseen events arise, requiring all hands on deck.

Consider the industry

When it comes to evaluating a social strategy in times of crisis, the industry absolutely matters. Brands offering products or services that could be viewed as opportunistic for display or advertising in times of crisis should carefully review their editorial calendar this week. Unless it’s extremely time-sensitive, sometimes the best bet is to play it safe, which is why many brands put organic content on hold on grand opening day. Brands in contact with consumers may consider taking a break from paid spend if they have a large consumer base. Disabling paid media for a day or two should not affect the effectiveness of the campaign’s targeting and ensure that ads will not run in the event of a potential crisis. Social media managers should also work closely with public relations partners, as some brands will be required to make statements condemning violence, if it occurs. Finally, keeping an eye out for ambitious brands can give social leaders insights into how others are reacting across industries. Create a list of brands, add them to a Twitter list and periodically check the statements they issue throughout the week.

Talk to your peers

Those of us who work in social media are like one big dysfunctional family. No one understands the pains and difficulties of working through difficult times like these better than your peers. Contact us to discuss their plan of attack, borrow decision frameworks, and share potential answers among them.

Finally, don’t forget to check in with your social media teams during times like these. They are exhausted and emotionally taxed with what feels like an endless series of fire drills. In many businesses, social media is run by one person or a small team with the weight of heavy decisions on their shoulders. We work around the clock to monitor situations like these and don’t have the ability to ignore the news when we need a break. Whether it’s a simple text of support or giving the social team a day off for mental health, the extra support can make all the difference during tough weeks like this.

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