This is not a fun topic and it is extremely hard for me to write. It's something that we've had to deal with and I'm sure many others will have to deal with throughout their career. As I navigate the challenges of this topic, I thought I would share the best practices for dealing with a death on social media.
Unfortunately people pass on. This could be a client, your boss, the owner of the company, or a colleague. In the world we live in, things are public online and social media is often times the first place people look for answers. In many cases it is also the first place news breaks of tragic accidents and occurrences. As a social company it important that you address the situation within your company in a timely and sensitive manner. Of course every body is different and each situation should be handled accordingly. However, here are some good guidelines to start with.
How To Deal With Death On Social Media
1. Confirm The Death Privately
If it is your client who has passed away the first thing you want to do is confirm it's true. Especially if your client is famous. As you know there are many internet hoaxes out there and while your stream may be blowing up with information about the death of your client, we can only hope that it is not true. However, in the case that it is true, you will want to get in touch with the appropriate people, family members and others who will have information for you. It is during this time that you should address how long you want to wait until you speak about the subject and how you want to do so. Again, if your client is famous it will be all over the news and people will be coming to you on social media for answers. This will be a very hard time for you to keep up. The best thing to do at this time is to keep quiet.
2. Stop All Scheduled Posts
If you have posts scheduled to go live, now is the time to cancel those.
3. Address The Fans & Supporters
After you've decided what you want to say, schedule a time to confirm the death online. You may want to leave this to your social channels only or include it on the website. You will also want to determine whether or not you will answer people's questions and comments on the page you are managing. If you do decide to answer you'll probably want to leave your initials or Team… so people aren't confused as to who is writing it.
4. Decide What You Want To Do After
Will the business live on? If so, it is time to decide how you will handle that and create a new and updated social media strategy.
This is a very tricky situation and one that is not fun. However, as social media continues to be the voice of the people, it is important to handle the situation in a professional manner. I'm sad writing this.