Tech & The Web

Should You Stop Scheduled Tweets During Tragedies?

Scheduled tweets are a good way to keep a presence on Twitter…but what do you do with them when a major tragedy strikes?

Do you suspend your scheduled tweets when some kind of tragedy like a mass shooting or natural disaster happens?

Or do you allow them to continue but pepper them with the best updates you can find?

It’s a question that many different types of brands and individuals face. To many, bringing a halt to the “day-to-day” messages seems to make the most sense. Not placing a pause on the messages you’ve scheduled to go out could seem insensitive to others.

But not everyone feels that way.

Dr. Kenna Griffin, who I’ve chatted with along this blogging journey, makes a compelling argument about not pausing scheduled tweets on her blog, ProfKRG. She describes her workday in Oklahoma back on 9/11, the day of the terror attacks in 2001, when she spent the day on an assignment that did not involve the unfolding tragedy. Instead, her story that day was about a library.

It’s her memory about focusing on that library that’s exactly the reason she says she doesn’t pause scheduled tweets in such situations. (Click the link in the previous paragraph to read her post.)

I hadn’t really considered her point before. But it makes a lot of sense to me.

I’m in a position where I control scheduled tweets for a news organization as well as my personal account and I don’t handle the two the same say.

For the news organization, my real job, I will pause more “lighthearted” stories — you know, the “good news” features people claim journalists never do — to focus on the up-to-the-minute information the news junkies on Twitter want. If it’s unrelated, though important, news on other subjects that have an impact on my local community, I’ll allow those to keep going. But anything that seems too lighthearted on a “heavy” day — at least until now — I’ve tried to back off on anything that might seem insensitive.

On my personal Twitter account, Patrick’s Place, I generally don’t “pause” my feed, but I do try to squeeze in more updates around posts I’ve scheduled for specific times. It’s more of a mix there because it doesn’t feel to me that a mix is such a terrible thing.

Then again, my personal account is primarily designed to expand my brand outside this blog while still promoting the blog itself. I don’t consider this blog nor the personal Twitter account to be a “news” site, so I feel a little more leeway here.

But what do you think?

Does it feel too insensitive to you to see an organization carry on with “business as usual” on their social media accounts during tragedies like mass killings or earthquakes? Where’s the line? If you feel a break or a pause is necessary, how long should it last?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.