Asleep at the Social Media Wheel?

At the intersection of news, entertainment and life, you find never ending unfiltered social media. It can be exhilarating, depressing, informational, entertaining, incendiary, or mundane. For communications professionals, it is an incredibly useful channel to reach, connect, and engage. While breaking news stories are developing, social media channels, and in particular Twitter, have become primary sources for up-to-the minute information, and can be invaluable during and after the event.
 
The news cycle is nonstop. Yet communications professionals are humans who need to eat, sleep and take care of their families. That contradiction created a need for tools that can free communications efforts from the confines of the human schedule. These tools can work. Pre-developed and pre-scheduled tweets have been proven to boost brand growth. Obviously, if the stream of social media content is constantly flowing, the odds of being seen are higher the more often you send out a new message.  
 
But — and it’s a big but — there are some significant reputational risks involved when you put your external communications on autopilot. Many of us watched the recent horrific and tragic events unfold on broadcast media and social media. And while we did, we had to sift through sponsored tweets and prescheduled content.
 
Social media editorial calendars have become a standard part of any communications plan. So at the office, you and your team develop a series of posts designed to highlight your key offerings and increase brand awareness, and you program your posts. Later that night you set your alarm, turn off your light, and go to sleep secure in the knowledge that your pre-scheduled tweets will go out and reach the world even while you’re dreaming. And then you wake up in the morning and discover that something terrible has happened. Your first, human, reaction is to weep and grieve and rage as you follow the news. All the while, your steady stream of robotic tweets continues, completely out of mind.
 
At best, off-topic pre-scheduled tweets can make a brand or a leader look out-of-touch and irrelevant. At worst, the pre-scheduled tweets can be offensive and tone deaf.
 
These days, it’s a sad truth that horrific news events are not unusual.  A communications team must plan for them. Be accountable for your posts, and designate responsibility to a specific team member for pulling/stopping them before they post. When events move too fast for that, your team needs to move fast too. You should be ready to respond, delete, manage, apologize, explain — get ahead of any negative fall-out.
 
It’s not okay to be out of touch or out of control of your public posts and tweets, and prescheduling posts is not an acceptable excuse for unacceptable content.
 
If your communications plan doesn’t include a social media strategy for breaking news events, no matter what time it breaks, then your communications team is sleeping on the job.

For more information on communication strategies, please contact The Jeff Eller Group