3 Tips for Navigating Social Media During Times of Unrest

By Hana Bieliauskas
June 5, 2020

To post or not to post—and how to address the current social and news climate—is something our Inspire team has been working with clients a lot this past year. It has been a time when both brands and individuals have rightfully grappled to know how to best react, and what to share (or not share) on social media.

Here are three things brands should think about before posting on social media in times like these:

  1. Think carefully before sharing on social media. Taking the time to listen to what others are saying and sharing before publishing on social is pivotal to getting this right. For some brands, simply being silent to indicate they are taking this time to listen, learn and reflect may be the best way to respond. Saying nothing at all can be powerful and demonstrates that the brand is aware this is not a time for “business as usual.” If brands do decide it is appropriate to proceed with their post, they need to continue showing that they are listening, learning and considering audiences and what is important to them. This conversation isn’t one that is going to, or should, just end, and brands should be sure to acknowledge that they are aware and engaged in their tone and messaging.
  2. Make sure that any paid social promotions that are running make sense and will not be considered in poor taste or tone-deaf. Don’t be the brand running its ads on Instagram among a stream of black squares. Pausing all social ads for brands and clients is a smart strategy. When promotions do go back on, carefully consider the language, tone, and visuals in those, too.
  3. If brands do wish to share on social media related to current news, whether it is pledging their support or sharing a response or statement, they should do so in a way that is honest to who they are, is not pandering and is meaningful. People are looking for brands to invest in long-term change, and brands need to know that if they say they are committed to a cause, such as ending racism, that they need to show it through meaningful action moving forward. They are and will be held accountable to what is said on social right now. Companies should also be prepared to proactively respond to and address any criticism or questions they receive upon sharing—and again actively listen and learn from this feedback and the interactions

Our team has had numerous conversations with clients recently about not scheduling social posts ahead and carefully considering planned social posts to be sure the outreach is appropriate. In PR, we often value longer-term planning, but now is a time to slow down, think, listen, and take social media day by day, being mindful when sharing content. There is still a lot to learn about effectively communicating around issues of racism and racial inequality, and we can all take this time to reflect on how to do so more thoughtfully and intentionally.

What has guided your social sharing recently? Have you seen brands who have responded well on social—or any who could have done better? Please share your thoughts.