Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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Another day, another tragedy?

Photo from Wikipedia.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Is it just me, or does it seem like lately we’ve been hit with one tragedy after another? Today, we awoke to the total devastation in the town of Moore, Oklahoma, after a nearly 2-mile wide tornado swept through, leaving it in total ruin.

Because I had to be at an early morning panel discussion on the use of social media, my normal routine was way off. I did not see the morning news, or tune into Twitter or Facebook first thing this morning. When I finally did get to social, I find myself asking if people are becoming immune to these tragedies.

From my streams and newsfeeds, it seems that so many people were basically sticking to their own agendas. I even looked through the tweet stream of hospitals across the country and was shocked and slightly appalled to see that many were just carrying on with business as usual.

Is it just me? Am I being overly sensitive? Am I wrong to think that we need to be a little more respectful in the social sphere and acknowledge what is going on? Is it inappropriate to step away from our self-serving agendas for even a day? I know I’ve posted about this before, right after the Boston bombings. But for some reason, it seems like less attention is being given to the countless number of victims of Mother Nature’s latest wrath in Oklahoma than tragedies in the past, and I’m not sure why.

Even my hometown paper, the Providence Journal, apparently didn’t think Oklahoma was Page One news. Seriously? This has been called one of the worst tornadoes of all time. Families lost children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles… not to mention those who were wounded, and all of their possessions gone. Of course possessions can be replaced, but people can’t.

I am saluting the amazing folks at @NormalRegional who in the midst of their own tragedy are tweeting and posting important updates to their Facebook page to help people find their loved ones, to direct moms-to-be as to where they can deliver their child, and other important information, from a hospital that was leveled, by the way.

And yet the rest of us go on tweeting about Lasik surgery (really?) and “want to make your hot body hotter?” (I kid you not.)

Maybe it is just me, but I choose to be respectful of what people are going through and put aside the company’s social media marketing efforts FOR ONE DAY in favor of supporting our fellow man. If that seems silly to you, then maybe I’m in the wrong business. (And I must add in here that I’m so grateful to have a director who is of a like mind and believes that we need to show a little respect during times of tragedy. Phew.)

But in this writer’s opinion, showing sympathy for your fellow man and trying to understand their plight during a difficult time will speak more loudly for your brand than any other tweet or Facebook post you might want to put out there. Do you agree or am I alone in this thinking?


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Responding to a crisis that isn’t yours

Boston-marathon-Facebook-cover-photo-630x456There have been two recent tragedies that have played heavily in the news and of course in social media. The bombings in Boston and the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas were horrific events that demanded the attention of the nation and made news across the globe.

Whenever something occurs of that magnitude, in today’s world, many of us automatically turn to social media to obtain the latest breaking news, to share our own thoughts or to pass along information we think is relevant. That’s all well and good when it’s from a personal standpoint. From a brand standpoint, most of us have our own crisis management plans (or at least we should) that provide us with direction in times of emergency.

But when you are using social media as a marketing tool for your brand, what do you do when a crisis occurs and it’s not yours? Your crisis management plan is in place for YOUR brand, not a tragedy like Boston, Texas or last year’s shooting in Newtown, CT.

There has been a lot written lately about this subject. From the danger of unmonitored scheduled tweets from @GuyKawasaki to the tweets that were simply poor judgement and in really bad taste like Epicurious.

A very smart blogger I follow, Mark Schaefer (@Markwschaefer), had a wonderful post on his {grow} blog about this very subject. More recently, my friend Lisa Buben (@lisapatb) recently asked if we should tweet or not during extraordinary events on her Inspire to Thrive blog.

Personally, I think you have to first acknowledge the situation. I think you look self-absorbed, insensitive and uncaring when everyone is turning to that situation and you’re still tweeting about how important your new book is.  I remember when the shooting occurred in Newtown. I immediately stopped tweeting and we turned all our attention to this. We offered the resources we could, but mostly we offered our condolences and support.

Even when it’s not a crisis of your own, I truly believe you must recognize it. The whole point of social media is connecting with people and sharing our humanity. That means when a tragedy befalls someone else, especially when it’s as big as those situations, it’s time to step away from our own agendas and be part of this social community we have built.

Even the day after a crisis has occurred, I still don’t feel right about going back to regularly scheduled posting. I just feel like it makes a brand appear cold and uncaring, and even personally for that matter. I believe you have to wait at least 24 hours and then test taste the waters.

I have adopted that plan for the brands I manage. After a tragedy has occurred, I announce that we’re going to interrupt our regularly posting due to the situation. During that time, I will post releveant information that I feel is important to relay or share with our own community for their health or safety. I will also share resources that are relevant to the situation that might help others. Usually I wait 24 hours to even consider going back to normal posting. At that point, I acknowledge that 24 hours has past and slowly start moving back into regular content, but still including some relevant posts about the situation at hand.

That’s my plan, that’s how I approach it. It’s not because someone told me that is how I should do it, it’s just what feels right, what feels respectful, and what feels most comfortable and natural. Social media is about reaching out to people… and in a tragedy that’s even more important. Because when it comes to a tragedy, you or your brand aren’t all that important in the big scheme of things. It all comes down to getting some perspective I guess.

What do YOU do in a crisis that isn’t yours?

 


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Blah, blah, blah. It’s all just noise.

Man Holding LoudspeakerMy husband does not “exercise” in the traditional concept of working out. His is a more laid back approach, like with most things in his life. He takes the dogs walking at the park on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day, and he also works on his feet.

While I’ve always been semi-active and watch what I eat, I have recently adopted a new “healthier” lifestyle. For the past two months, I’ve hit the gym regularly five times a week and started eating healthy, unprocessed foods. I need to do this exercise, not only for physical health/weight management, but mental health as well (and I realize I left myself wide open on that one!). I love my workouts, and so I often come home excited and wanting to share what I did while at the gym.

Last weekend, when I babbled on and on to my husband about trying out the rowing machine and climbing 30 floors, he gave me a funny look. After a few minutes of this blah, blah, blah, which is what I’m sure he heard, he explained that while he supported me and my efforts at this healthier lifestyle, he really had no desire to hear all the details of my workouts because the gym is not something that appeals to him. Hmmm {steam pours from ears}. OK. After days of stewing about this, I think I get it, once I was able to relate it to something that makes more sense to me than the male mind.

I of course went back to social media (because doesn’t everything somehow relate to social media?). Specifically, I started to think about what we’re sharing through all these channels, every day. And I don’t mean just personally, I mean for brands too.

We all know that we get really tired of hearing about what people ate or when they need a bathroom break. Do people really want to hear all those details? No! With more and more people in the social media world, sometimes it really can be too much information coming at us all day long. And as a result, I wonder if it’s all just turning into noise?

The fact is, social media can be just that. The “gurus” and the “experts” preach that brands must use social media as a marketing tool today. But if everyone’s doing it, then it’s even more important to figure out how to distinguish yourself so you’re heard above all that noise. You need to find what resonates with your customers, and with the public.

So where does that bring me? Sometimes it says more to listen than to talk.

What if a brand’s social manager decided not to tweet for a few days. Instead, that time could be spent reading and listening to what your friends and your customers are saying. What are the hot topics? What are they talking about? Sometimes I think we get too caught up in the whole push to create our own content that we’re failing at delivering something that will be heard above all the noise.

So that’s going to be my goal for the rest of the week. To listen.

How do YOU differentiate yourself from everyone else?