phone capitol hill

Consider turning off paid media for the inauguration.
Getty Images

By Alex Kalbli

4 mins ago

It seems like more and more, today’s social media managers are tasked with making game-time decisions in extremely heavy situations. On the precipice of the inauguration (and not even two weeks past the attack on the Capitol), social leaders are gearing up for what is sure to be another stressful, tense week that could require last minute actions for their brand platforms. Figuring out if—and what—to post in the midst of a crisis is anything but simple, and a poorly timed social post can tarnish even the best of brands. As social media managers prep for the uncertain week and year ahead, here are a few tactics that can help amidst the chaos. 

Take it day by day 

Social media managers should take it one day at a time when assessing the current political climate during inauguration week. Keeping a pulse on conversations and sentiment through social listening can help managers read the room when deciding if their brand’s social strategy should be business as usual or to go silent. The current social media sentiment around the inauguration is overwhelmingly negative with many concerned about violence and others questioning a legitimate election. Everyone should recognize there is a lot of scrutiny on the internet right now and be extra thoughtful when crafting any statements around the inauguration.

Although the inauguration takes place Wednesday, tracking the news and events leading up to the day will be critical to formulating a strategy for posting or pausing content. Having a clearly defined plan A and plan B will ensure decisions made during inauguration week are clear and quick, regardless of the scenario. For example, my company’s plan is to pause organic content Wednesday and resume posting on Thursday if events go seamlessly. If there is violence or unrest, we will remain paused on all paid and organic through the end of the week and reevaluate over the weekend when we feel it’s appropriate to resume content. Lastly, social media managers should keep Wednesday as meeting-free as possible should any crises or unexpected events pop up, requiring all hands on deck. 

Consider the industry

When it comes to evaluating a social strategy during crises, industry absolutely matters. Brands with products or services that could be seen as opportunistic for posting or advertising during crises should take a hard look at their editorial calendar this week. Unless it’s extremely time-sensitive, sometimes the best bet is to play it safe, which is why many brands are pausing organic content the day of the inauguration. Consumer-facing brands may want to consider pausing paid spends if their consumer base is wide. Turning off paid media for one or two days should not affect campaign targeting efficiencies and ensures ads won’t be served during a potential crisis. Social media managers should also collaborate closely with PR partners as some brands will be expected to make statements condemning violence, should it occur. Finally, keeping tabs on aspirational brands can give social leaders ideas on how others are reacting across industries. Create a list of brands, add them to a Twitter list and check in periodically to see what statements they are issuing throughout the week. 

Talk to your peers

Those of us who work in social media are like one big, dysfunctional family. No one understands the pains and struggles of working in tough times like these more than your peers. Reach out to discuss their plan of attack, borrow decision frameworks and share potential responses amongst each other. 

Lastly, remember to check in on your social media teams during times like these. They’re exhausted and emotionally taxed from what feels like a never-ending run of fire drills. In many companies, social media is being led by one individual or a small team who has the weight of heavy decisions on their shoulders. We’re working tirelessly around the clock to monitor situations like these and don’t have the option to zone out the news when we need a break. Whether it’s a simple supportive text or giving the social team a mental health day off, the extra support can make a world of difference during difficult weeks like this. 

Alex Kalbli

Alex Kalbli leads global social at TE Connectivity and is an Adweek Mentee.