The Time to Keep Quiet On Social

Keeping your mouth shut can be a pretty good idea.

Sometimes, it’s out there in the real world – like when you’re at dinner with that one uncle who can’t help sharing his many colorful political opinions. (We’ve all got one.)

Other times, it’s here in Internet Land, where blibbity-blabbing about the wrong subject or at the wrong time can have harsh repercussions that you really, really don’t want to have to deal with.

There will be times when you should think about piping down on social media.

Emergency situations and national tragedies might be a few. A major holiday might be another. No matter what’s going on in the world that might make tweeting about your upcoming two-for-one sale seem a bit misguided, it’s important that you have a plan for quieting down, so when the time comes, you know what has to happen.

Here’s what you need to do now, so you can be ready later:

Schedule your outages

Being able to predict the future is pretty amazing. It’s why our team keeps a tarot card reader on permanent retainer, and it’s why marketers overwhelmingly prefer planning their social media out in advance.

Sharing the same old types of links and promos that you usually do on a major national holiday can come off as a little out-of-touch. Do you have to silence your social just because it’s one of those days marked by feasting, family, and the local post office closing? No – but you probably don’t have much to lose by showing some restraint, either.

One thing it pays to know: where does your audience live? (If 99% are outside the United States, for example, then slowing down your self-promotion on Thanksgiving probably isn’t a major concern.) Consider which days might be a little more on the sacred side for them – and consider doing what you can to keep self-promotion out of their feeds on those days.

Make sure you know in advance the extent of your plan, too. For example, you may decide that pausing your posting routine is a sign of respect – what about your ads? You’ll find differing opinions on whether or not it’s appropriate – just know which side you’re on before it’s time to make a choice.

Plan for the unexpected

Hard though it may be to talk about, when tragedy strikes, it often becomes an instant topic of national conversation.

(And it’s usually not a conversation that needs to be interrupted by a link to one of your blog posts. Oftentimes, these are those moments when the best thing you can provide is reverent silence.)

If you decide that the respectful thing to do is to stop posting, and you use a scheduling tool to automatically post at certain times, have a plan in place for shutting it off.

This may mean figuring out factors like:

  • How do you stop your posts from going out?
  • Who is in charge of making this happen?
  • Is this something you can do from a mobile device, or only from a computer?

For example, we built a pause button into Edgar, so that you can turn your posting off and on with a single click. Whether your tool of choice has a feature like this or requires more complex finagling to pause your posting, know in advance what you need to do, how to do it, and who’s going to do it, should the need arise.

Don’t wait until you NEED to know to figure this out. If and when that time comes, you want to be able to act quickly – not get caught fumbling for a solution at the worst possible moment. It might be an unpleasant thing to think about, but it won’t be any less unpleasant when the time comes to actually do it, so you may as well be prepared.

Stick to your plan

When your plan is to be quiet on social media, it’s a plan worth sticking to.

Granted, it all depends on context – if you want to tweet holiday wishes to your followers on an otherwise promo-free day, that’s one thing. If you want to try to make your brand relevant by latching on to less savory news with an impromptu update, you’re probably better off not saying anything at all:

Epicurious had to eat its words after posting these tweets in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. http://www.businessinsider.com/epicurious-boston-bombings-twitter-2013-4

Epicurious had to eat its words after posting these tweets in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. http://www.businessinsider.com/epicurious-boston-bombings-twitter-2013-4

Not everything that happens in the world demands your commentary. This can be an easy thing to forget, especially when you know for a fact that others care about and respect your opinions on other issues! The truth is, though, when disaster strikes, you’re not obligated to weigh in. At all. Stick to your plan of not saying anything until such a time as seems appropriate – there’s nothing insensitive about keeping your thoughts to yourself.

This is an easy thing to prepare for – so don’t put it off!

Getting a game plan in place doesn’t take long, and that means you have no reason not to have one.

Decide in advance when you want your social accounts to take a breather – both the calendar days you can target ahead of time, and the different types of circumstances that will set off your Spidey Sense – and you’ll be all the better equipped to do your part if and when the unpredictable happens.

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