Sorting through the Social Media Code of Conduct

police lights

This is a difficult post to write, but I have an issue on my mind … and that is usually a signal that it might be on your mind too. Let’s talk it out together.

When there is a crisis in the news like the Boston bombing and manhunt, social media adds a layer of complexity — and perhaps confusion — to an already complex and confusing situation.

Like nearly every American, I was transfixed by the TV images and felt shock from the havoc created by these two young men. It just felt like ANY social media posting other than something that was Boston-strong related was inappropriate.

But even with this awareness, when I read something interesting on the Internet during my day, I will instinctively tweet it (or schedule it to be tweeted later).  I have been doing this day after day for years —  assuming that if I’m interested in something, my Twitter tribe might be interested too. I read, tweet, repeat.

During the Boston crisis, I was mindful of the emotions of the country and toned down my normal chatter. While this extraordinary drama was occurring, I mostly stayed social media silent. But occasionally, as a result of my habitual Twitter routine, I would tweet something non-Boston related that I came across during my working day.

After one such tweet, a follower (who I had never heard from before) scolded me and told me to “turn off the auto-tweet.” Ironically, there were no auto-tweets. It was me, simply tweeting out of habit. Even though I was aware of the crisis and had adjusted, I guess my brain was on auto-pilot.

I didn’t respond to this person, and at first was a little put-off that some stranger would have to act like the Twitter police.  But upon reflection, I do think there is something to think about here …

The Social Media Code of Conduct

The Boston scenario demanded our attention, our respect, and our focus. But what constitutes a crisis, and how should social media publishers respond?

After the Newtown school massacre, I literally shut down my blog and, for the most part, my social media presence. However, during the Boston crisis, like most other bloggers, I let the blog posts run as they had been pre-scheduled for the week. I’m not sure I can really explain why my judgment was different this time. Was that a mistake?  Is that insensitive?  Where do you draw the line?

What is the Social Media Code of Conduct?

In the heart of the Boston news coverage, I came across this story:

April 18 — A government rocket attack killed at least 12 people in a village in central Syria Wednesday, while rebels battled regime forces over two key military base. Two children and three women were among those killed. An amateur video posted online showed at least seven bodies, including a young girl with a bloody gash to her head, laid out on the floor of a room. A man can be seen wrapping the body of a boy in a white sheet as another man standing over them cries out, “Is this child carrying a gun? This child is 12 years old. Oh God. You gave him to me and now you are taking him.”

Were you aware of this story? Is this a crisis too? What is the relative importance of a massacre in rural Syria versus downtown Boston?

About half of the readers of {grow} are from outside the U.S.  Would a reader in the Middle East find it strange that I stopped my blog for the death of three people in Boston and not for the slaughter of 12 people in Syria? In London? In Melbourne?

Some “rules” are obvious

During every crisis, there are inevitably individuals and brands who go viral over what is regarded as insensitive tweets and posts. This is one of the most egregious:

Epicurious-Tweets

Certainly the tastelessness of these tweets is beyond debate.

Author and social media celebrity Guy Kawaski also got pillaged by bloggers over his auto-tweets (and his defense of them) during the Boston news coverage.

But somewhere between the mindless insensitivity of Epicurious and the mindless mindlessness of Kawasaki’s auto-tweets about the sex life of frogs, there is a gray area.  There is a “stop-publishing” tipping point that is beyond just common sense.  There is some combination of news coverage, emotionality, national pride, and drama that is more nuanced.

If I created a business-related post during a national crisis, am I in violation of the unwritten Social Media Code of Conduct? What is that Code of Conduct? What constitutes a national crisis? How do you define national crisis if more than half your audience is not part of that nation?

Unfortunately in the world today, there will be no shortage of tragedies to test us.

This is one of those times when I don’t pretend to have the answers and would like to hear from you.  In an era when we are all learning how to be “publishers,” how do you handle the etiquette of publishing in a crisis?

Image courtesy Provisions Flickr Creative Commons

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  • Thoughtful article Mark.

    I am one of the ‘about half’ of your readers that is outside of the US (UK). One of the underlying messages that was reported was that of defiance by the American people, their solidarity and refusal to allow such acts to control their lives (this was also an underlying message of the London marathon yesterday).

    Should this defiance not be the case for people who’s everyday lives include the use of social media channels and the internet?

    Tasteless updates, or those exploiting such events, are not something that anyone would be pleased to read. Is it not the case that genuine updates, even if the frequency is reduced temporarily, are simply continuing with our everyday lives in spite of those trying to affect how we live.

  • That is a powerful message Barry. Certainly it is a fine line between defiance and respect for those who are grieving. No easy answers but I love this point you are making. Thanks very much. You have become a real force in the {grow{ community!

  • Hi Mark, thanks, I wrote the comment very carefully given the sensitivity of the topic. I agree there is no easy answer as everyone is different and has differing views, hence the dilemma.

  • Tough question, Mark. To date, the answer has resembled Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” But that enormous gray area of which you speak is going to be specific to every individual.

    I think the best you can do is to hold yourself to the same standards for social networking that you would at a face-to-face networking event (it is “networking,” after all.) If you wouldn’t do it at a cocktail party, don’t do it online. And if an event would cause you to skip a cocktail party (or cancel it), that’s a good cue to take the day off from Twitter, too. Geoff Livingston had a similar thought, and equally considered take as yours here: http://geofflivingston.com/2013/04/22/devolving-civility/

    But that’s my specific definition, and of course idiosyncratic to me.

  • Thanks for posting this Mark… its a worthy post and dialogue! I was wondering the very thing about my “respectful” tweets/posts during the crisis and also decided to let my pre-scheduled tweets to post in defiance of those who would attack western values.

  • The worst thing we can do is pretend there has to be an etiquette at all. How do you act in the real world? That is how you act online. Quit pretending that social media is some magical holy ground with special rules. The world does not stop during tragedies. And all things considered, we have yet to have any major tragedies recently. By major I mean things that have affected a large group of people. We have had some very sad things happen that the news cycle has focused on. But nothing on a mass tragedy scale.

    If you ran a store and someone came in, would you not tell them about something helpful in your store? Or a sale you have going on? You sure as heck would. If the topic of the tragedy came up them discuss and share your mutual grief. But you don’t stop working or promoting your business because something tragic happened 1000 miles away that has no material effect on you.

    If you are grieving and you don’t like something I say in real life, what should you do? Ignore me and move on. Act the same online.

    On the day of the school shooting I had scheduled a blog post about making a killing in business. I got a little bit of grief over it. Really? I share content that has nothing to do with human life, murder, schools, students and the content is not coming from any location or person related to the event yet I should not use the word “killing”. That is BS.

    I’ll restate my initial point: Quit pretending that social media is some magical holy ground with special rules. SM is run by people. Let each person decide what is right for them. Do you feel like not talk on SM because something upset you? Fine. But don’t get on the day after and critique because I kept on going with my life.

  • Mark thanks for opening this discussion. I too struggle with this each time something happens. Managing social media for a large health system in Rhode Island, as soon as the tragedy occurred last week, I stopped “normal operations” to post relevant information, pass along info I thought our community would want/need, and of course sending our condolences and support to our neighbors in Boston. The next day, it was more of the same, until the 24-hour mark. And then I noted that in our posts and (tried to) continue with business as usual. Until Friday when we were all watching with rapt attention to the manhunt that was like no other. Again, I didn’t feel it appropriate to post trivial information and appear as though we were oblivious to what was going on. I felt that was appropriate, and I think that is the key. We have to do what we feel comfortable doing. And I don’t think it’s up to anyone else to attack others for making honest mistakes or doing what they feel comfortable doing. I used to think that people were MORE polite in social media, but I’m quickly learning otherwise. Wonderful post.

  • There is some sort of tragedy happening almost every month it seems.

    It’s pretty easy, especially living in the U.S., to forget that a lot of the world is in constant turmoil.

    How do you pick and choose which tragedy to stop your normal actions for?

    What about the explosion in Texas that happened simultaneously.

    I think the bottom line is that you will always offend someone in both times of tragedy and times that are normal.

    I dont want to say that people weren’t genuine, but if people were truly mourning or in shock from the events they wouldn’t be spending their time policing Twitter.

  • Many thanks for a thought provoking post, Mark. Many of us outside the U.S. (U.K. for me too) were glued to our TV’s as the Boston tragedy unfolded. I agree with Barry’s point that making sure that life goes on (with the exception of updates taking commercial advantage of such an event) is not a sign of disrespect to those who lost their lives or suffered but is a sign to those who would terrorise us that they will not succeed.
    I was interested in your point relating the Boston bombing to the story out of Syria. i commented on Facebook on a post from someone raising this issue (although I believe that was with reference to Iraq) who was questioning the U.K.’s wall to wall coverage of events in Boston whilst bigger (in terms of the number of lives lost) tragedies unfolded elsewhere in the world. I responded simply to suggest that we are (sadly) conditioned to the news out of Syria and Iraq whilst this was the first major terrorist event in the U.S. since 9/11. Was that callous ? It certainly wasn’t intended to be and I concern myself, as any human being with a conscience must, with what happens in the Middle East and elsewhere and I have pondered it ever since.
    Perhaps it is also that, when something like that happens on our doorstep (n this case for Americans) we feel a capacity to do something about it – to be involved – whilst nobody seems able to bring the slaughter in Syria, the tragedies in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere to an end.
    I certainly do not feel comfortable about what I posted and it will be interesting to see if anyone else has a way to answer your ‘relative importance’ question.

  • A tough call but thanks for the kind words Bob.

  • We’ll have to agree to disagree. I would not say that social media is a magical holy ground but I would certainly contend that the rules of engagement are different than “normal” business communications. Vastly different.

    Talking to somebody one-on-one who is standing live in your store (who can regard your body language and tone and ask questions) is very different than sending out a 140-character tweet that can be seen and mis-interpreted by people from around the world. To contend that there should be no difference in approach seems strange to me.

    I don’t think “carry on” with business as usual without regard to context is a viable approach for many, but perhaps that is a niche you have found that will embrace you. You hinted that you offended at least one person with your “killing” comment. If you are OK running the risk of offending people, that is up to you and perhaps a viable customer base would be attracted to that. Seems risky though.

    Thanks very much for the dissent and the thought you put into your comment Patrick.

  • I like this approach Nancy. You inserted your own judgment into the social media management rather than just let the content take its course. I think that is smart. Thanks for the great comment.

  • I actually had that Texas example in the original post but took it out because the article was getting too long. This comparison dawned on me — If an event occurs that would move the country to display the flag at half-mast, alter your social media direction. So in this case, Boston = Yes. Texas = No. Sandy Hook = Yes, etc.

    What do you think of that model?

  • christinegeraci

    Thanks so much for this post Mark. I’ve been thinking about the exact same thing and actually drafted my own blog post about it. I think in situations like these, the “code of conduct” is different for everyone, because each person’s audience is a little different. We need to strike a balance between staying true to our own passions as well as those of our audiences. Personally, I feel for the people in Syria who experienced that tragedy. Had I known about it, I might have tweeted a link to a story. But the Boston tragedy hit much closer to home for me, and conversation about it dominated my feed. Any tweet unrelated to it felt awkward at best. As a result, I didn’t tweet anything unrelated to Boston for a couple of days. But that was me. I think the only code of conduct we can all be sure of is the ability to unfollow someone you find insensitive or unrelatable at any given point in time, crisis or not.

  • You are bringing up some incredibly important topics here Matthew. A crisis seems to be some amalgam of impact, emotion, news-worthiness and sensationalism. I think there is also a human factor of “if it is not impacting me directly i will ignore it.”

    Privacy is an example of this. Nobody will really care about the vast implications of online privacy until their ID gets stolen or it impacts their wallet in some way. Syria is like “privacy” in that way I think, unfortunately. It’s “out there.”

  • Really great point Christine. You also have to be sensitive to the needs of your audience. Valuable addition to the discussion.

  • Gary Schirr

    I posted on this topic last week on Storify: http://storify.com/ProfessorGary/how-should-you-tweet-during-a-tragedy

    This is a tricky topic. I also got scolded for some non-auto-tweets. I debated and decided not to promote that day’s blog post as aggressively as possible. Some people seemed to think it should all be about Boston, but really all the useful tweeting about the tragedy was in the first hour – after that there was useless, perhaps harmful, speculation.

  • Knowing what to do on days like the Newtown shooting or last Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing is difficult. In a week like last week that rocked our world in the U.S., do we shut our social media and marketing down for a week and just offer condolences? In my world, there are still cabins to fill, and show tickets to sell. Was it inappropriate for Subway to be open to take my sandwich order, or should they have closed out of respect for Boston? Commerce is only expected to stop on social media, apparently.

  • I don’t really know what the expectation is. I guess like anything else, we expect businesses to be human, at a minimum. From there, who knows?

  • There is no single answer or solution. I think we do the best we can to be sensitive to what is important to our readers/followers and ourselves and then to everyone else.

    Try to be human and go from there.

  • Thanks, Mark and I think you’re right but I think it is probably also a ‘capacity to relate’ issue. i.e. that it’s not that we’re not horrified by what we see on our screens or read in our newspapers as having happened in Syria and elsewhere but those of us in the U.S. and western Europe, at least, can relate more closely to an event in Boston than we can to an event in Damascus or Aleppo, where the culture, the landscape and the people are different, in some respects.

    That said, my main contact with a major client is from Syria and I have come to understand much more about events there, specifically, by talking to him. London (where I am) and Boston both are, of course, culturally diverse cities. This and the culturally diverse nature of social media should enable us to constantly add to our understanding of the cultures and lives of others that are different to our own.

  • Another very valuable contribution to the discussion Matthew. Thanks!

  • A good strategy, I think. Thanks Josh.

  • Mark – I think a lot of folks were really grappling with how to respond to this, perhaps even more so than other recent tragedies.

    Personally, I typically halt communication after these catastrophic events. I think silence can often be the best response. After Newtown, I didn’t blog for a week. It just didn’t feel right. Nothing I could say felt adequate to convey how I felt.

    But, Boston was very different. I think because I’m a runner, it really struck a chord with me. So, I decided to write about it. I shared my experience as a runner and I offered up ways people could help – specifically for Boston and after a tragedy in general. I was really hesitant to post it, but the response was very positive and we had a great discussion about how to handle things like this. (Here it is in case there’s an interest: http://flybluekite.com/2013/04/16/responding-in-the-wake-of-tragedy/)

    As far as social media, the day after Boston, everything I shared was related to that. I read many compelling stories and posts related to the tragedy, so that’s what I shared. I went back to businesses as usual on Wednesday until Friday when everyone was glued to the TV (myself included) with the massive manhunt.

    All that said, when it comes to etiquette in these situations, I think you have to stay true to your brand and keep your audience in mind. But, most importantly, you must be careful not to capitalize on tragedy. I think that’s where most make missteps (Epicurious, for example). The focus needs to be on the victims and the tragedy. If it makes sense for you and your brand to contribute somehow or add to the discussion, do it. Otherwise, it can seem as a very misplaced attempt to newsjack a tragedy or grab attention for your brand at a very difficult time.

  • I’ve been considering this for a several days as well and I believe such times allow the human side of brand or community management to emerge. Insensitive people will post insensitive comments. Compassionate people will do the opposite. However, I don’t believe there should be a social media pause. (Well, random scheduled tweets look kind of silly in the stream, but seriously, do they hurt anyone but the person who scheduled them?)

    Times of crises are the times that we share information about the topic on everyone’s mind, but they are also a time to carry on normal affairs. There are billions of stories, dramas, and celebrations that occur every day. As human beings, we must respect what is occurring in others’ lives and reflect on how we might help. Mark, I believe the call to action should be to be respectful, not to pause out of fear of being insensitive.

  • RavenCourtney

    It seems like during the Boston bombings, we saw the pendulum swing its furthest to the direction of “turn everything off.” Perhaps that’s because we’ve all so recently read the horror stories of brands getting pilloried in past crises for not doing so, or for trying to trade on human tragedy with hashtags hijacking.

    But now I’m seeing a lot of smart voices come out in favor of nuanced discussion instead of black and white, and the idea that each brand must decide for itself using its own principles. It’s a good thing – a sign that social media continues to mature.

    Here’s my colleague’s take on the issue – very similar to your conclusion, Mark: http://raventools.com/blog/during-tragedy-only-you-can-decide-when-to-stop-marketing/

  • I reacted to a Facebook post by Lady Gaga, where she did the same when a gay boy committed suicide. She sent her condolences on a post that got a lot of fan
    comments, then she added ‘BTW you can visit my online boutique to buy a new
    shirt’. I told her to stop taking advantage of the situation and don’t sell her
    stuff this way. I thought that she or her young fans will destroy my comment,
    but it didn’t.

    I believe that if the situation touches our relatives, or us, then we tend to
    react. The Boston bombings touched all Americans and people around the world,
    because it could have happen to us. It is normal to be respectful, and care for
    the others. On the other side after a few moments or days the show must go on.

    Social Media is part of our lives, and for some people is our job. I don’t think you
    were disrespectful by sharing something not related to the attack on twitter
    after the bombings.

    If people do jokes and make unrespectful comments then it is another thing.

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  • While not a bad starting place the challenge to this solution is you may not know the flag position until after the event which takes us back to the original point of the post and of course the dilemma.

  • Yes, that is true.

  • Thanks for sharing this perspective Linda. Certainly an important point of view.

  • A very sounds approach Luis. Thanks very much for commenting.

  • Hi Mark —

    Thanks for not only adding your voice to an important discussion but approaching it in such a way that you asked more questions than gave answers. I agree with you that there are a lot of grey areas in how we interact personally on social media, whether we’re representing ourselves or a brand. That “Code of Conduct” is definitely still evolving — a fact that I believe can be (at least in part) attributed to how young Twitter and Facebook are as widely adopted technologies. Social norms don’t seem to exist yet the way they do in the offline world (something I lament daily as I scan my feeds).

    So while there will be more questions than answers for a long time, there seem to be some constants (mentioned many times in these comments and elsewhere) when it comes to deciding how to respond to situations like Boston, Newtown, Texas, et al.:

    *Understand the context. Acts committed by man (i.e. Newtown & Boston) will evoke a different emotional response than acts of God (Sandy) or accidents like the tragedy in Texas. And as others have said, even with acts of terrorism, as Americans, we’ll relate more to Boston because it’s a city many of us have visited if lived in while a place like Syria is something we’ve probably only seen on TV. Plus most of us have lived with the idea of Middle East violence since we were born so it’s not as shocking to us (generally speaking). Whether any of that is fair or not to those suffering, I do believe it provides context to the situation.

    *Respect your audience. I believe your reaction will/should differ based on whether your audience is local/national/global (in terms of how you respond and how you move forward).

    *Above all, be as human as possible online. I think this is the key to it all (it’s my personal and brand mission) — it’s often hard to do in 140 characters since so much can be lost or misinterpreted but showing compassion and empathy there and then broadening the discussion in longer forms like this post (where you can have thoughtful debate) is a great way to achieve that.

  • Sarah, you have created a great blog post here! : ) Thanks for the exceptional commentary!

  • I struggled with this as well. We manage a lot of client accounts and some were quick to tell us to shut down, while others wanted to continue posting. All agreed that posting a heartfelt thought toward Boston and everyone involved was appropriate, as was toning down the messaging out of respect. It was not the day to launch a book or a contest that asked users to participate by posting funny photos.

    The very nature of terrorism is to disrupt the regular flow of lives and shut down normalcy. Don’t we give them just that by stopping to give them notice?

    There’s no question it is a very fine line. There are the people who felt it important to post information about Boston and others who did not. There were some people who attempted to exploit the news to draw attention to themselves and that is simply abhorrent.

    As marketers we have to control our messaging to be sensitive to the people we are marketing to. A little common sense goes a long way.

  • Well, thank you, Mark for always sparking great discussions — off to write that blog post!

  • I think this is where authenticity plays a role. For most of us, as people with an online presence, there is an element of automation that happens with our posts. However, as most of the social media gurus tell you, you also have to engage. And it is these moments of engaging that you show your heart and your being. I personally believe, and this is just me of course, that its ok to continue life, even social media life, while still acknowledging the tragedies that affect others and ultimately our world at large. Of course, the “automated” content probably shouldn’t be insensitive or diametrically opposed to your tweets of empathy. But, again, that comes down to knowing your content and knowing your audience.

  • Interesting perspective, Mark! Personally, I’m not sure there is a ubiquotous “Code of Conduct”. Social Media is a collection of individual / brand thoughts and attitudes, not a controlled process. How each of us reacts (individually or professionally) to a situation is based on individual attitude. If that “attitude” slips in to a commercial thread, then beware of the outcome. But, who’s to say who’s right or wrong? If you as an individual have sensitivity towards certain things, then your response will be representative of that sensitivity, whatever that happens to be. After all, isn’t that the beauty of Social Media?

  • A tough one Mark and I really feel on the fence. I do show concern but life goes on (around the world). I chose to stop for the most part the rest of that day but resumed the next as usual. However, I will continue to be positive and not participate in negativity or bashing. I see people bashing others, using ill manners, being rude or downright mean like they have been appointed the know-all police. I scratch my head at the lose of civility many display toward others, not sure that their behavior is in the or will be added to a SM code of ethics.

  • I think the blog ate my comment from earlier today! Urgh. Not sure what happened!

    Anyway, I think you’ve definitely hit on something a lot of folks struggled with. I know I did. I normally don’t write about tragedies – there’s just rarely anything that I can say that seems fitting. But, because I’m a runner, I felt compelled to do so after Boston. I was really tempted not to post what I did, but the response was very positive and it opened up a great discussion on this very topic.

    I think the bottom line is that you have to do what makes sense for your brand and your audience. And, most importantly, avoid trying to capitalize on events like this (like Epicurious did). It rarely comes off well. Sometimes, as many noted on my blog, silence can be the best response – especially if you can’t think of anything appropriate to say.

  • Good for you!!

  • Beautifully said Janet. Nothing more to add except “thank you!”

  • Great comment Robert. Thank you so much for contributing your wisdom.

  • Yes, it is. And I agree with you that there is not one size fits all. Good to hear from you Steve — blog reader number 1!!

  • Rather ironic. The people who expect authenticity, inclusiveness and tolerance can be so intolerant. : ) Thanks Randy!

  • Another can of worms being opened right there. I wrote about that issue some time ago, exressing concern about social media’s role in spreading rumor and chaos in the midst of a crisis.

  • Thanks for sharing that Courtney. I have no problem with a brand being conservative if they are unsure of what to do. Probably a smart move actually.

  • Superb blog post and comment Laura! Great work!

  • Very wise and insightful (as always Tom!) Honored to have you comment.

  • Mark, I think it has a lot to do with where your customers are located. If we had customers in Syria, our approach to marketing would be remarkably different.

    For you, as an individual “brand” I think you have a lot more latitude though it’s clearly a gray area as you point out. If Justin Bieber was hocking iTunes downloads the same day, I’m confident he’d get the same reaction, and maybe worse.

    For US brands it’s a different story. They might have customers there. Or customers with family friends, or acquaintances and who in the heat of the moment had no idea if they were safe or not. It may have taken hours to find out with the cell phone networks sluggish due to the volume.

    And Boston is home. It hit hard. Patriots Day. Tax Day. A short distance from the very beginnings of our country. Many caught at least part of the symbolism, or apparent symbolism. The sophistication of tactics; devices which until now only our troops have faced on a regular basis was turned on the homeland; the employment: using one explosion to herd unarmed civilians into a kill zone; and all of this in a country that’s largely enjoyed the protection of our oceanic borders.

    It was incredibly emotional and 9/11 was on our minds. Many of us were waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was — and still is — and emotional event and emotions are not logical. Time is the only thing that provides the perspective of logic and so while I’d never tell a brand what to do, certainly they can choose their own path, I’d certainly recommend keeping the peace.

    There’s a choice — to publish or not — and we know the outcomes of both. We can get back to business in a couple days, and still make the point that we won’t let this disrupt our way of life.

  • Mark, this is a very thought-provoking post. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    Most brands, colleagues and friends I observed during the Boston tragedy (and the West, Texas tragedy) continued Tweeting as usual, and I didn’t for one moment think they were anything but pre-scheduled posts for their audience. It’s good to be vigilant, observant and mindful of Twitter etiquette, particularly in times of tragedy and chaos. However, before flinging accusations about “auto-Tweets” it might help to remember most Twitter (or social media) users pre-schedule their weekly posts and do not change their post schedules when a tragic event occurs. Scheduling your posts and Tweets is not the same thing as an auto-Tweet.

    National crises and tragedies don’t pre-schedule themselves and ask for permission to interrupt everyone’s daily life. My recommendation is to continue posting content as usual. It won’t please everyone, but as long as you don’t create a careless post about the tragedy and try to sneak in self-promotion within that same Tweet, it will be okay with the majority in your network.

  • Frank, this comment is a true gift. Thank you. I hope you’ll consider turning this beautiful and thought-provoking piece of writing into its own blog post! Thank you very much my friend.

  • Thanks for this advice Lisa. I do think there is some confusion among people who don’t blog, schedule posts or schedule tweets … which may be the majority of Twitter users. I don;t know if they appreciate the systems behind the work and may take it the wrong way. Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion!

  • Thanks. I try to dole it out a little at a time or whenever my wife gives it to me. 😉

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  • Aimee West

    Very thoughtful argument. There is a fine line between business as usual and shutting everything down out of respect. I also agree each person/company has to set their own standard for this. Thank you for your thoughts on this.

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  • I did stop my auto tweets when I saw what had happened so that what I was sharing would not be misunderstood by the majority of my audience. I had many other social media managers ask what to do and my advice was to turn off anything automated just in case. I don’t have a problem with people tweeting about what they like. If we don’t want to see their tweets we can simply unfollow them. As a person that manages social media for others I felt I should stop them so that they were not targeted like Guy was. As our audience becomes more global I think we do have to know what is going on in the world and think how it may look to that audience. Great post.. I saw the post referred to last night by ipicurious and felt sick. I had hoped these were auto post about the marathon and not in reference to the bombs? People are searching for the answer as to what to do. We posted an article about what we thought was best and it was an all time record visit to our blog. I don’t have all the answers but I love where you went with this. Thank you, Mark.

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  • That’s true. And to further that point…what was the flag position after Benghazi?

    I don’t remember anyone complaining about auto-tweets or social media in general after that happened.

    Was it because it happened overseas?

    I think it comes down to the fact that different people are more sensitive to certain tragedies. And certain people are more outspoken about their feelings. Then, you have to combine that with the right time and right place where that person sees a certain social media update and decides to comment.

    In reality it probably can’t be prevented. But it’s a shame that out of a tragedy we get to a point where we are discussing auto-tweets…is that really something that matters?

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