When tragedy strikes: A Community Manager’s Checklist

It’s the new normal: when tragedy strikes, people immediately take to their social networks to become informed, to grieve, to vent. As a brand in the space, it’s important to immediately assess your communications and put measures in place to remain appropriate, helpful and informative during times of tragedy. As a community managers, we need to act immediately to ensure our clients aren’t foot-in-mouth. Here’s what to do.

Community Manager Checklist - When Tragedy Strikes - Stephanie Fusco

  1. Pause scheduled posts
    Don’t be the brand who spouts marketing messages or inappropriate things when everyone is focused on a tragedy. Check your scheduled Facebook posts and tweets and ensure that they’re paused. Your updates can wait.
  2. Check your media plan
    Once you’ve canceled your scheduled posts and tweets, make sure that your media plan isn’t undoing all your hard work. Call up your media company and ensure all promoted tweets and sponsored posts are paused.
  3. Ask: how will our fans be affected?
    Once you’ve paused all communication efforts, ask yourself how your fans will be affected by this tragedy and how, if at all, you can help. One of my favourite examples of putting this into action is trampoline company Springfree’s response to Hurricane Sandy. Knowing that their fans would be nervous about securing their trampolines, the company posted a helpful blog post with Hurricane Sandy Tips.
  4. Call decision makers
    When tragedy strikes, our first instinct is to help. For many, this includes reaching out to large corporations or local companies in hopes that they can provide funds or services to aid in recovery. Once you have your communication ducks in a row, call up key decision makers and ask how, if at all, they are able to help. For a company like Google, this meant creating a person finder tool for those in Boston after the Boston Marathon bombings.
  5. Don’t jump in too quickly
    As human beings, our first instinct is often to comment on a tragedy. When you add social media into the mix, this can result in cases of misinformation and the appearance of insensitivity. As a brand, it’s best to hold your tongue and wait to comment. It doesn’t always make sense for a brand to express concern or grief over an incident. In the same vein, brands should refrain from posting unrelated content while news is still breaking.
  6. Stay close to your feeds
    Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep your eyes on your feeds. As a community manager, you will likely be responsible for briefing key teams with updates on the situation along with your fans’ response to it. Stay close.