Most Social Media Management Tools Still Lack “Emergency Stop” Button For Times Of Tragedy

Martin Beck on
  • Categories: Channel: Social Media Marketing, Marketing Tools: Social Media, Social Media Marketing
  • As the tragic events in Paris unfolded last week, many on social media askedand even begged — brands to stop their normal postings. But as it turns out, most social media management tools still don’t have a simple “emergency stop” button.

    That makes it difficult for companies running sizable social operations to hit the brakes on social when major news breaks. Some platforms require you to pull up individual posts and either delete or reschedule them, a terribly slow and inefficient prospect.

    The issue is definitely attracting the attention of the management firms. During the aftermath of Friday’s attack, Buffer tweeted instructions about how to stop scheduled post from going out. And later the company sent out a number replies that it is looking into ways to simplify the process.

    Buffer currently requires users to call up each social account separately to stop publishing. If you are using Buffer’s automated queueing feature, you can turn off publishing for full days, sort of. Those posts are shifted to the next active days on the calendar, but that still doesn’t shut off posts that you have scheduled for specific times; you have to delete or reschedule them.

    Sprout Social has a pause button but only for its Sprout Queue, which is similar to Buffer’s auto-queueing feature allows accounts to feed content into the hopper for publishing without a specific date and time. But that doesn’t stop manually scheduled posts; you’ve got to edit each one and turn them to draft or reschedule. Sprout Social told us that a global pause button is on its product roadmap.

    SocialFlow does offer pause functionality but not a global one. You’ve got to pause each social account separately, which for companies with a large stable could be complicated. Issues can even arise for smaller operations, as discovered Friday by the Marketing Land social team which manages a modest 12 social accounts in SocialFlow. We missed one account and therefore accidentally sent a tweet after announcing that we were pausing social activity in deference to the events in France.

    Sprinklr, an enterprise-grade management platform that mostly serves larger brands, offers a way to quickly pause posts across the board. “Brands using Sprinklr have the ability to stop publishing of all outbound messages, including paid social advertising, with one simple click or a predefined trigger that activates the platform’s Rules Engine,” Sprinklr’s Elizabeth Closmore told us in an email. “During the implementation process for all of our clients, we advise that this is a standard rule that they have built out ahead of time. The rule states that, across all configured social channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and all social accounts and handles, a brand’s outbound social messaging will be paused simultaneously when the rule is triggered.”

    We’re still waiting to hear back from others we contacted Monday ask about this issue — Hootsuite, SocialFlow, Salesforce Social Studio and Spredfast — but it seems likely some or all could use the same functionality.

    Meanwhile, social managers should at least have a plan for how to react after tragic events, said Sprout Social’s Darryl Villcorta.

    “With a set plan, your team will know what to do and how to react so you won’t need to go through layers of approval before doing so,” Villcorta wrote in an email. “Additionally, that plan should have defined roles and accountability for each team member so there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen. Lastly, ensure that any messages you send out in reaction to the event are true to your brand’s tone and identity — your audience can see through canned sympathy so make sure you’re authentic.”

    Closmore, Sprinklr’s global head of product evangelism, strategy and partnerships, agreed that brands should tread lightly during crises.

    “Every tragic event is different, and should be addressed as such,” she said. “Engaging with global conversation and your consumers is typically a good practice, but when it comes to tragic events and natural disasters, it pays to be thoughtful and sensitive when determining how your brand will engage. We advise brands to think about finding ways to add value to their content and reactions, rather than simply following the pack with generic messaging.”

    Postscript:Buffer’s Courtney Seiter tells us that a pause feature is on the company’s product roadmap. “We have collected a lot of incredibly helpful feedback following the Paris attack, and we believe that we should make pausing much easier, and have better options to mention it when the moment arises,” Seiter wrote in an email. “We’ve been working on some potential approaches, and we’re hoping to make this happen quickly for our customers.”

    Postscript II: Spredfast has a global pause feature, says director of global communications Courtney White. Not only that, in times of crisis, the company sends email to clients reminding them that they can stop all their initiatives, or selected ones. When auto-publishing is paused “within our platform, they are still able to publish unscheduled outbound messages,” White said. “This offers the ability to respond quickly in sensitive moments, and the flexibility to address the situation however their brand sees fit.”

    About The Author

    Martin Beck
    Martin Beck was Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter from March 2014 through December 2015.