These are understandably wild times on social media as our communities have intense conversations about race. Many business owners, social media managers and individuals are grappling with their role and message in these conversations. As a social media strategist and ally, I’d like to share the advice I’ve given to my clients and friends.
“Should I post about this?”
Short answer: If you are being called to share an informed and empathetic message, your platform is a great place to share that. You can also share those types of messages directly from other people of color by reposting their content.
Longer answer: If your message is not empathetic or informed, or promotes stereotypes, drives fear or anger, I recommend you do not post and instead explore your feelings offline with friends or family who you respect. I encourage you to have these 1:1 conversations with people who love and challenge you.
If you are being called to share a message, and are struggling to do so on your own, I would encourage you to ask a friend who has been speaking up to help you craft a message that is empathetic, compassionate and on-brand for your voice. It’s ok to ask for help if you’re not sure what to say!
Important note: No matter what you say, someone might have an issue with it. If you are uncomfortable with public feedback, or it makes you anxious, I’m going to encourage you to sit this discussion out online and instead have some smaller, in-person or virtual conversations where it may be easier to listen and engage with empathy.
For those of you who are choosing to comment online right now, please consider your comments and ask if they are too harsh, especially for those who are trying to learn and be and do better. Your comment could prevent them from ever speaking up again if they feel shamed, judged, attacked, or scolded. It is extremely easy for tone to be misread online. One parting thought – great leaders teach with empathy and compassion.
“Do I need to speak up?”
Short answer: That is up to you and your brand.
Not every brand needs to speak right now. It’s a very good time to listen, reflect and have internal dialogue about how your brand participates in these conversations.
You could also choose to make a business donation or take action offline. I would encourage you to reflect on how you are feeling, without letting outside influence determine what is right for you or your business. There are many ways to be an ally, and you do not need to post on social media if it’s not the right solution for you.
“Can I/we keep posting as normal?”
Short answer: I don’t recommend it.
Even if your brand and organization has decided to not speak on this issue, it is still important to make sure your organic content doesn’t appear insensitive or get lost. So, you have three choices:
- Continue as planned. If you do choose to continue as planned, be aware that your engagement is likely going to be lower as people have their attention divided. Please also know that your brand could receive negative engagement about the planned content.
- Delay. It’s ok to be quiet for a week on social media. It is very easy to reschedule the planned content to be published next week.
- Rework. You can rework your content, which would involve you looking at said content and making sure the tone is appropriate.
“Can I keep my ads live?”
Short answer: Yes.
Ads function differently and people consume them differently than organic content, however you should review the copy and geographic targeting of your ads before you decide to keep them on. Our agency has recommended that ads that are being served to heavily impacted geographic locations are turned off right now.
“People are already coming after me personally online for something I shared/said and I don’t know what to do.”
This is a very mentally challenging situation and needs to be handled with grace, compassion and empathy. It’s important to talk with someone you love and trust about what you are experiencing and feeling as you self reflect on the situation. If you do not have a person in your life who can talk to you about this, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a 15-minute free coaching call.
If you are feeling anxiety, anger, fear, frustration, hatred, grief, desperation or frustration when you are scrolling on the platforms, I strongly recommend you take a break from social media for your mental health.
It’s OK to take a break from social media. We can remember that just because we take a break does not mean that our feelings, thoughts, intentions and actions offline also need to stop. By removing ourselves from the digital world, we can re-enter our physical world, where often we can have an even greater impact through interpersonal communication and action.
With love, compassion and hope,
Keep Social Media Kind