Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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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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The key to happiness? Let go of the sad.

(Note: this post was originally written for and appeared on Jayme Soulati’s blog, Soulati-‘tude for the Happy Friday series.)

When Jayme Soulati asked me if I would write a post for her Happy Friday series, I was both honored and overwhelmed, to say the least. This is way out of my comfort zone to write so personally, but I’ll give it a whirl.

What really intrigued me about Jayme’s invitation is that for the past couple years I have been on a mission to be more positive. So the first thing I did was scour this wonderful little Happy Friday series she has going and I LOVE it. One of my favorites was the science of happiness and do-overs by Geoff Reiner. Geoff is in the midst of re-training his brain to be happy, and that’s exactly what I did, but not quite so deliberately and scientifically.

In my mind there are some folks who always have that “glass half full” attitude. I am not one of those people, but I’ve secretly envied them. It took me many, many years to recognize that I come from a family who just seems to see things negatively. There’s always something to worry about, there’s a dark side to everything. Having grown up in that atmosphere, it just seems normal and natural. But when someone points it out to you, then you stop and think.

happy & sadI thank my husband for being the one to really point this out to me. I honestly didn’t realize how negative my attitude and my outlook could be. I would see faults in people often before I saw positive traits. I’d recognize the down side of a situation without seeing the benefits. For the most part, I was NOT a happy person, even if I seemed it outwardly.

So two years ago, I decided to change that. I bought a journal called “Gratitude” that helped on this journey. Each day had little tips or tricks or positive sayings, or little assignments for the owner to do. For instance, one of the daily assignments was to “find three things that went right in your day and figure out why they went right.”

And so I kept my journal, and made a conscious effort to find and be grateful for little things. I had to teach myself to recognize the positives each day, and even help others see the brighter side of things. Through this, I’ve discovered that sometimes you have to really look for things to be thankful for, but when you do, they’re always there. It also helped me come to a conclusion: happiness doesn’t just happen; it’s something you must choose, and something you have to work at.

And now? I’m SO much happier. I am not saying that every day is a joy, but there are definitely days that would have been much darker if I hadn’t adopted this new approach. It’s still a challenge because it doesn’t come naturally for me. I know I have to make a conscious effort to not dwell on the down side of things and remind myself that it’s important to see the positives in a situation.

If something goes wrong with our house, I now think of how much worse it could have been, and how lucky we are to be able to have this home. Now, when I’m talking to my mother and she’s focusing on the negative, I try to steer her in a more positive direction, rather than wallowing in the negative with her. When my company was having a difficult financial year and said “no raises,” I was thankful I still had a job. When I had a medical issue arise last year, I thought of how much worse it could have been and how lucky I am to have the good health I enjoy.

Through this whole experience, I’ve realized that it’s not how you’re born and raised and it’s not about luck. It’s all in how you look at things and about training your brain to choose the positive, count your blessings, recognize there are things to be grateful for, and find  happiness in your everyday life. Because let’s face it… life is way too short to be unhappy.

So,  how full is your glass?