Social Media Content vs. Trending Topics: Three Tips to Creating Meaningful Posts

“Why in the world did they publish this piece of content on social media at this time?”

I often ask myself this question while browsing through the social web. More often than I care to see, brands are posting content and running ad campaigns on social media that are just inappropriate during a particular moment in time. Example: A tweet with a 20% coupon for rain gear during a category five hurricane.

As a digital strategist, I know how tempting it can be to jump on the latest news and ride the trending wave. After all, we are living in a world where attention spans are continually decreasing.

What we tend to forget is that while capitalizing on trending topics can be an easy way to create awareness, it can also have consequences. Crisis situations where lives have been lost or are in danger are simply a no-go for social media content other than expressing genuine sympathy. Even with news that is not so overtly critical there are still risks. A particular news item or event may not offend everybody, but may deeply offend a small yet vocal group of individuals. In some cases, the content posted was part of a brand’s planned marketing efforts and was never even intended to be “real-time,” but just happened to coincide with a moment in time that renders it highly inappropriate.

With that in mind, here are three tips to keep in mind before you post a trending piece of content:

1. Know What’s Going On:
Always have an eye on (planned) campaigns and other communication activities. Talk to your colleagues and ensure that all information is in the right hands. Stop or delay activities immediately if necessary.

2. Double (then triple) Check:
Sometimes the idea of capitalizing on a trending story can be really intriguing, and social media demands that we act fast, BUT, the best approach is to take a breath and think twice before acting (click to tweet). Having at least one other person look over your idea before you put it out there is also recommended—especially if you are not 100% sure.

3. Be Prepared:
In the event an inappropriate piece of content goes out, be ready to pull the campaign and apologize. The sooner the better. Have an issue and crisis plan at the ready so you can act fast.