How Brands Should React in Social Media During a Tragedy

Most importantly, my thoughts and prayers are with those who were affected by Monday’s tragedy in Boston.

I use to live in Rhode Island when I was little and have visited Boston many times, it is truly a great city. GO SOX!

Working in Social Media myself, I found it extremely interesting to see how certain brands reacted online during this time of tragedy. For some brands, it was apparent that they had no clue how to react or filter their content.

For example, the following tweet slipped under the radar for McDonald’s and was posted in the late afternoon, about an hour after the breaking news. Having such a post surrounded by numerous statuses and tweets reflecting the tragedy may make your brand appear disrespectful.


When a tragedy occurs, your brand should step away from Marketing mode and switch into PR mode.

It would be best to keep the following check list handy:

1. Immediately Disable Scheduled Tweets, Posts, and Emails

You don’t want your brand to look the same way as McDonald’s. Having solicitous messages during a breaking news event will cast a negative shadow over your brand.

Even Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Co., had the same advice:

Twitter Tragedy

2. Alert all of your Employees

All employees should be aware of the developing situation and breaking news in case they have scheduled content as well.

3. Alert Your Followers with Appropriate Updates

For brands that are located within the affected area or for companies that provide services that may have been affected, social media will serve as a great tool to keep your community updated. You can provide information such as transportation closures, triage sites, and donations efforts.

4. Review Your Content Calendar

Once your brand has taken control of the situation, it would be best to review upcoming scheduled content and remove any posts that may be insensitive. One innocuous word could take on a whole new meaning during a time of tragedy.

5. Optional – Have a Condolences Message

For certain brands, it will be appropriate to post a condolences message for those affected by the tragedy. However, you should avoid any type of grandstanding or pandering. In some cases, silence may be the best option.

Keeping this list handy will help you and your brand avoid any type of potential embarrassment, while also showing respect for those who have been impacted.

b strong


3 thoughts on “How Brands Should React in Social Media During a Tragedy

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