In the wake of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, many brands went silent on social media.
We had our own internal discussion about how we should proceed.
When news broke of the shooting, I combed through out scheduled posts to ensure that we didn’t have anything going out that might be inadvertently insensitive or sound tone deaf.
Lynn held off on any posts to our Facebook page. We figured it was wise to go dark there for several reasons. We use Facebook largely to highlight our culture, so posting lighthearted office fun, while fairly innocuous, might be perceived as being tone deaf.
Also, since Facebook’s the social site at which people spend the most time, users there are more likely to come across something that will offend them and/or be conditioned by others’ activity that they should be offended by something. For that reason, too, I think it’s the place that people are most likely to be outraged over the any perceived insensitivity.
Our use of those two channels is much more akin to how news organizations use social media to distribute stories. We post articles from third party sources as well as links to our own blog posts.
The stories we share are focused on:
- Marketing communications,
- Public relations,
- Innovation and
Because our social strategy is informed by a news organization mentality, we decided not to pause our social posts. Even during national tragedies, people still want to know what’s going on in the world, and that includes our professional lives.
While we don’t typically use our social channels to promote ourselves and our services, brands are different; they often use social to promote themselves.
It is therefore a wise move for brands to go dark. Selling stuff as a national disaster or tragedy unfolds is the very definition of a tin ear and is an invitation to criticism.
And given that brands schedule most social posts well in advance of their actual publication date, companies are at heightened risk of an inadvertently inappropriate post during a national tragedy.
The Social Media Pause Button
Which brings us to the elephant in the room for anyone involved in social media management: The relative absence of a global social media pause feature among many of the most popular social media management platforms.
The absence of the feature is not for lack of demand. Back in November of 2015, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Martin Beck wrote about the issue for Marketing Land.
While enterprise-focused social media management tools provide their customers with a global pause feature, among those at the more affordable end of the spectrum, it appears only Buffer met that demand. (Buffer, in fact, sent me an email several days ago reminding me how to use the feature.) As of today:
- Hootsuite does not have a global pause button,
- Nor does HubSpot, and
- Sprout Social has one only for its Sprout Queue RSS feed feature but not for manually scheduled updates.
The result is brands have to comb through individual status updates for each social channel in order to either set to draft status or delete those individual posts in order to go dark.
For brands that decide to go dark but manage many social channels and post frequently, that arduous task would be made infinitely simple by what would seem to be a fairly trivial feat of programming.
To pause or not to pause? That is the question many brands struggle with in the wake of a national tragedy. But once a brand makes the decision, social media management platforms need to make it easy for them to execute that decision.
This is not a new problem, so it is a bit mystifying why the social media pause button is not a standard feature across all platforms.
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