In the midst of Hurricane Sandy, it felt really odd to see local businesses tweeting and posting Facebook updates as if nothing was going on. Even though we barely felt the effects of Sandy here in my area, every school, government office, and a large number of businesses were closed for about two days.
But while this was all happening, and while we were battening down the hatches just in case, a number of businesses seemed to be oblivious to the situation. In fact, some of them were promoting events that I knew had been canceled. And a few were encouraging people to “Come on down!” and do some shopping, when I knew they were closed.
The result? A slew of posts that seemed out of place and irrelevant during the storm. They weren’t timely, and in some cases, just seemed odd.
I’m not completely against the scheduling of posts and tweets, but I think we do need to be careful. Here are five guidelines for those of you who do schedule your posts ahead of time:
1. Choose wisely – You can’t always predict everything, but be careful what you schedule. Think through the possibilities and schedule only those posts that you are pretty certain won’t need to change.
2. Keep track – Keep a list of all of the posts you have scheduled, along with the times and dates. This way you can keep track of them in case a situation arises that might cause problems.
3. Don’t schedule too far out – I know one local business had recently lost their social media person, and asked that person to schedule a few weeks worth of Facebook posts until they could find a replacement. During the storm, those posts seemed really out of place. The further out you post, the harder it is to keep track.
4. Follow the news – Changes in the weather are just one of many things that could have an impact on how your scheduled posts are perceived. Other news events, deaths, business closings, election results, and a myriad of other circumstances could turn a great post into a mistimed and inappropriate post.
5. Pull the plug when necessary – If you are doing all of the above, it will be easier for you to avoid an embarrassing situation. Don’t hesitate to unschedule those scheduled posts. You can always post something else that’s more timely, but ultimately, it’s better to miss a post or tweet, than to send out something that could be damaging.
By all means, feel free to schedule things if it will help you out with your own work load, but be ready to jump in and change things as necessary.
If you want some more information on scheduling posts, check out the latest Facebook Question of the Week video from my friend Gini Dietrich:
What tips do you have for the handling of scheduled posts and tweets?