Unfortunately, there are terrible things that happen in the world. When these things happen, of course we are personally devastated as human beings. We may also find ourselves baffled as to what to do as business owners. Social media has made it so that you can easily – and quickly – be judged on how you handle a tragedy of any sort.

Here are 4 tips for managing your social media during a tragedy:

1. Know What’s Trending AND WHY There are countless examples of a social media manager or business owner jumping on the trending train and sticking their foot in their mouth because they don’t know why a particular hashtag is trending. Before you put a trending hashtag into any of your social media updates, check to see why it’s trending. Trending hashtags can often be the first way that people learn about tragedies – they also have many people watching them and they will be quick to point out your error if you try to use a hashtag that is trending due to tragedy to your own advantage.
2. Acknowledge the Event It can be crucial to acknowledge the event. Something as simple as “Our thoughts are with the victims and their families” can make you seem more human. And let’s be honest, the truth is, your thoughts likely are with the victims and their family. Acknowledge the horrible thing that has happened without making it all about you or your business.
3. Be Respectful Many people are affected by tragedy – they tend to have a ripple effect. Don’t assume you know who is affected or what they are feeling. Operate with a sense of subdued respect. A tragedy is not a time to promote your product or push your beliefs.
4. Limit Promotion On the day the Boston Marathon was bombed, we saw a number of accounts announce that they would not be promoting anything for their business for the day out of respect for the tragedy. We also saw a number of Twitter fights break out over what was or wasn’t appropriate to discuss on the day of the tragedy. It’s important to note that emotions will be running high. Promoting yourself on a day of infamy will at best bear little fruit and at worst, get you negative attention from someone going through a tough situation.

Ultimately, you know that this somber day is a time for reflection. Make sure your social media account deals with a tragedy in much the same way.

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