5 Minute Social – How To Address A Tragedy On Social Media

By September 6, 2016Social, Strategy

When tragedy strikes, it’s hard for marketers to know the most appropriate way to address the situation. Should you make a public statement or remain respectfully silent? Social media is about community. And in times of tragedy or national distress, community becomes more important than ever. People use social media as a medium to reflect, react, and respond to tragedy. While there are no rules when it comes to these circumstances, here are some things to consider if the circumstance arises:



• If you choose to address the situation, don’t make an attempt to capitalize on the moment (or even mistakenly give the appearance that you are). AT&T infamously posted an image to commemorate 9/11 that sparked outrage online. The mistake here is that the company took advantage of an opportunity to promote their product in the context of 9/11.



• If the tragedy is directly related to your business, such as a high frequency of shark attacks at an area beach, a wildfire, or an incident at a local theme park, don’t remain silent. Your guests will be seeking reassurance or guidance. An expression of sympathy should come first out of respect for the families involved, but then you should cautiously provide more information. Depending on the situation, that could be information about safer beaches, preventative measures, alternative activities, etc.


• If the tragedy is directly related to your business, don’t be out of reach. Transparency is key in these situations in order to make your guests feel safe and taken care of. You should reach out to your guests to let them know that you can be reached at any time if they have questions or concerns. This will go a long way towards building trust and reassuring guests.




• If you choose to stay silent about the tragedy, do make sure that any other posts you make on social media are in line with the public mood. For example, avoid posting content about what a fantastic powder day you had or how great fishing was while others may be grieving.


• If you choose to address the situation, do make your statement brief and void of political statements. Your statement should be an expression of sympathy and support, yet remain positive.


• If your company is involved with recovery or aid efforts after a tragedy, do feel free to share your involvement on social media. But be wary of sounding self-promotional. If you share information about your involvement in recovery efforts, you should also urge others to participate with you.


• As social media is being used as a customer service tool more and more, guests will most likely reach out with questions on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Do plan to check messages and comments frequently in order to address their questions and concerns.


While we hope that these situations never present themselves, they are inevitable, and preparation is crucial. Bluetent is always here to be a resource for you, so please feel free to reach out with any questions on how your business should handle a crisis.


  • Michael D. Storey says:

    The only reason to reply to a tragedy is to offer comfort or aid. If you can’t do this without bringing attention to yourself, you are not thought out clearly enough to be using social media at all. If you are involved in offering aid, it is acceptable to urge others to join the effort. That does not include, ‘$1.00 from every sale will go to victim relief’. Aid in the face of tragedy is not contingent upon making a sale.

  • Regan Hann says:

    Thank you for sharing your opinion, Michael. We appreciate it. In the face of tragedy and natural disasters, each circumstance is unique and deserves a thoughtful approach. It seems we are in agreement, as noted in the article, that it’s inappropriate to capitalize on these events and in our opinion, the best rules to live by on social when tragedy strikes is to stay clear, communicative, and compassionate.

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