Social Media During A National Tragedy

Authors promoting books on Twitter and other forms of social media is nothing new. However, doing so during the early hours of an unfolding national tragedy is not the brand you want to establish for yourself. Yesterday I saw countless authors promoting themselves long after the attack, and I promptly unfollowed each and every one I saw doing so.

Here are some informative links about using social media during a national tragedy.

In a word…don’t.

Tips for Twitter users

Tips on all forms of social media

UPDATED at 12:30pm PDT: It seems I’m not the only one with these thoughts. Check out the following article, Boston Marathon Bombing Reveals the Best in People and a Dark Side to Twitter.

What do you think about cancelling auto-tweets and holding back on other forms of social media promotion during a national tragedy? If you see others promoting themselves or their goods do you find it acceptable or in bad taste?

9 thoughts on “Social Media During A National Tragedy

  1. I’m not sure about this, actually. At what point is it okay to start up again? A day afterwards? A week afterwards? I think it’s a grey area. I also think we sometimes expect more of artist-types, the types that tend not to make as much money in the first place, which I think is unfair. No one is saying that all the grocery stores should have closed, or the fitness stores, or bookstores. And other online media didn’t stop publishing other articles. So why authors on social media in particular? I agree with the sentiments–it might have made sense to take a day off, but I’m not sure it would stop me from following anyone…

    • Wendy,

      Grocery stores, bookstores, fitness centers are not what I was referring to at all. Instead, I was referring to both companies and individuals alike clogging up the Twitter stream with self-promotion.

      During the hours after the bombs went off, Twitter was filled with people wanting to help others directly affected.

      People looking to donate blood to the Red Cross and asking where should they go, officials asking for retweets to the link to the runner tracker so loved ones could see when their runners crossed/didn’t cross and how close they were to the area, Google putting out the people finder system for concerned family members, and in general all the things that police were asking to be retweeted (stay away from the JFK library, get out of certain streets, a specific park name where families could reconnect, etc…)

      In light of all of the above, I found self-promotion tweets highly inappropriate. I believe the immediate hours after such a horrific event is not the time for promoting a product. And this goes for a company or individual.

      As for when it’s appropriate to start up again I think that is up to the individual.


  2. Christi, thanks for featuring this topic today. I find it crass to say the least and good for you that you unfollowed them. I refused to go onto any social media yesterday. It just didn’t feel right to be there at all );

    • Florence,

      I’m with you. Aside from retweets of information and an initial solidarity tweet I put nothing out on social media. I did however sit with the news stations on in the background and my eyes trained to the Twitter feed for about three hours as the day progressed, watching everything go by. (Old habit from me being in the tv news industry long ago)


    • Lacy,

      I apologize for the late posting of your comment. It got stuck in my spam filter and I didn’t see it until today.


  3. Hello this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG
    editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted
    to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

    • Rodrick,

      I have no coding/HTML experience aside from one class in college, so that’s why I use WordPress. You just fill in the boxes with the info you want and hit “publish”.

      Best of luck on your blog!


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