Why You Need to Suspend Scheduled Tweets When Disaster or Tragedy Strikes

Last year I argued in this post about social media crisis management that when a PR crisis strikes your business you should suspend all scheduled tweets. This reflection was prompted by a case where Eurostar trains were blocked in the Eurotunnel for hours but the company was still tweeting invitations to take the train to Paris for Christmas. You can be entangled in a crisis that is nothing to do with your actions, so you need to be prepared for that, too.

This week we have seen that even this is not enough. One thing that the Boston Marathon bombing has highlighted is that you should also suspend all of your scheduled tweets when there is any sort of disaster or tragedy that could make your tweets appear tone deaf, insensitive or even inappropriate -- even when the incident is completely unrelated to your business.

Looking at some of the reactions on Twitter explains why. As soon as the news broke in Boston the focus of my twitter stream shifted to news about the tragedy, messages of support and offers of help. Mingled in with these were the usual scheduled promotional tweets plus many others complaining about them. Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) in London tweeted "Scheduled tweets really jar when something like the #bostonmarathon happens."



Some were also tweeting suggestions, like I did. Casey Waltz (@CaseyWaltz) in Princeton NJ tweeted "It's essential that companies/brands have a plan when an emergency/tragedy happens like this. It's crass to have promotions."  Even if they weren't in poor taste, your promotional tweets are simply out of place and nobody is interested in seeing them at that time.



And as Christine Perkett()@missusP) in Boston noted on Twitter "It's funny how perspective works. Yesterday's Boston tragedy so close to literally our home just makes everything else seem so trivial".




In the light of this any business or organization that uses scheduled tweets should make sure that they have in place a plan to suspend their scheduled tweets when a tragedy occurs. Concretely there has to be someone monitoring news to watch out for events like the Boston bombing, this person has to inform someone who has the authority to suspend tweets -- maybe they are the same person. This person with authority then needs to have the means to shut down scheduled tweets. Using some tools you will need to do this manually, but there are some social media tools that include an emergency stop feature. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to do this from a smartphone anywhere in the world. It doesn't matter how you do it but just make sure you do.

Planning for social media actions like this has to be part of your routine crisis PR planning. Being prepared for events that are not directly related to your business is also part of this planning. Disaster and tragedy can strike anywhere at any time, so making sure you are prepared is a very good idea.

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Related Posts on Crisis Management

Why You Probably Need Social Media Crisis Management More Than You Think
Social Media Crisis Management: Odimax's Emergency Stop
Crisis PR: Are You Ready to Take Down Your Website?
What the Shortmail Tweetstorm Teaches About Social Media Monitoring


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