How the Covington High Incident Makes the Case for Social Media Policies

How the Covington High Incident Makes the Case for Social Media Policies

Why having policies for social media is so important Many companies have no interest in getting involved with trending topics, especially when they’re controversial. For others, especially those with a young, socially active customer base, joining the discussions on trending topics is an important part of their social media strategy. Even if the story changes again, she owned up to her actions based on what she knew at the time. Social media policies like these may help. But with even established media outlets jumping in before they know all the facts, it’s critical to stop and think. Think things through in light of your company’s overall strategy. If you know your audience will stick to the original story no matter what, you might not need to do anything. One last appeal for social media policies… The main purpose of having social media policies is to protect your brand. Right now, we know that some of the boys are receiving threats, and that the school was advised to close for safety reasons (although it reopened today under heavy security). If there’s ever been a better example of why brands need social media policies, I haven’t seen it yet.

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How the Covington High incident makes the case for social media policies
Tomorrow, my husband and I will be taking our 8th-grade son to his interview for the all-boys Catholic school he wants to attend. So, naturally, the viral video about Covington Catholic caught my attention this weekend.

But that’s not really relevant. I wanted to mention it for the sake of transparency, but the point of this post to is to emphasize the importance of having social media policies to guide your organization and help avoid getting caught up in such debacles.

Why having policies for social media is so important

Many companies have no interest in getting involved with trending topics, especially when they’re controversial. For others, especially those with a young, socially active customer base, joining the discussions on trending topics is an important part of their social media strategy.

In this case, however, the story kept changing (and it still is, as of this morning). The original video clip that went viral showed only part of the story. By the time the full video was released, showing the events in context, the boys had already been vilified on social media. Some were even receiving death threats.

There were few apologies forthcoming. As far as I know, only Jamie Lee Curtis had the grace and integrity to admit she jumped to judgment too quickly. Even if the story changes again, she owned up to her actions based on what she knew at the time. And she has earned my everlasting respect for that.

But enough looking backwards. Let’s take this incident and look forward. What can your organization do to avoid becoming caught up in this type of fiasco?

Social media policies like these may help.

First, do nothing.

In other words, stay away from clicking “retweet.” Sit on your hands if you have to.

Anyone who works in social media knows that it operates at warp speed. Waiting to join a conversation seems counterintuitive. But with even established media outlets jumping in before they know all the facts, it’s critical to stop and think.

Think things through in light of your company’s overall strategy.

Once their fingers are safely away from their keyboards, your policies should guide employees to ask themselves questions like these before jumping in on a controversial trending topic:

  • Do we have all of the facts? How do we know? And “because CNN/Fox/etc. said so” is not good enough. I’ve come to believe that…

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