How to Proceed with your Brand: US Capitol Crisis

Khoros Alumni (Retired)

Unimaginable. Unprecedented. Unbelievable. Those are the words still reeling through many of our minds as we think back to the events that took place yesterday. As we try to come to terms with the chaos, we are left wondering what, if anything, should be done across social media and digital channels. Should paid advertising resume? Should a statement be issued? Should organic content still be paused?

It’s safe to say that we haven’t re-entered a “business as usual” approach. At this time, it’s incredibly important to monitor conversations that are unfolding on and outside of your owned channels. Sensitivities are high and the likelihood of content being misinterpreted and/or misconstrued is just as high. Given the current climate, we would recommend continuing to pause organic and paid content through the end of the day and then taking a day-by-day approach to evaluate whether or not it makes sense to resume publishing. 

Knowing that the rest of the month could bring about more sensitivities, it’s important to consider your brand’s place in this conversation — if any. Below are a few things you can do now to adjust your strategy and plan for the future:

  1. Understand responses to other brand posts 
  2. Evaluate how messaging reinforces your brand mission and purpose
  3. Leverage social listening to inform your content and response strategy
  4. Assess when paid advertising makes sense
  5. Establish a moderation rubric

Brand engagement and reactions from consumers

Over the past 24 hours, there have been several brands that have posted statements about the crisis that took place in Washington D.C., calling for a peaceful transition of power and denouncing the violence experienced at the US Capitol.

Generating mostly negative replies, consumers have accused brands of being inauthentic, mentioning “No statements like this, past few years though? #hypocrites,” as well as opportunistic “How do I cancel my card? What happened in DC was disgusting... but so is corporate America looking to capitalize on it.” 

Additionally, consumers are calling out brands that have the ability to do something about it: “So you’re going to pull PAC money from the lawmakers who enabled this, right? Because I don’t think anyone still has an appetite for performative tweets when you have the power to actually do something.”

Before publishing a statement, consider how the message ties into your brand values.

While brands may feel pressure to condemn the events at the US Capitol yesterday, the country is still processing and tensions are high. Being quick to publish a statement across your owned social channels may come across as reactive and inauthentic to your community; especially if this is the first time that your brand is entering the political arena. 

If publishing a statement is something that you are strongly considering, we recommend ensuring that: 

  • Your brand was directly mentioned as a part of the events, specifically in the news cycle.
  • Your brand was actively involved in encouraging Americans to participate in the 2020 Election. 
  • Your brand actively participates in political conversations and/or social justice issues and has done so consistently. 
  • You are prepared for any and all negative comments, how to handle them, and which internal stakeholders need to be involved in decision making.

Continue to monitor conversation and take content day-by-day over the next two weeks leading up to the inauguration. 

Make sure that you have the right listening protocols and queries in place so that you can best understand how audiences are feeling. This will enable you to make more informed decisions in real-time regarding your content approach. 

  • A sample search string in Khoros Intelligence to help you identify ANY connection of your brand name with the events from yesterday to perform crisis management response if necessary: (“brand name” OR @”brand name”) AND (capital OR capitol OR DC OR “occupy the” OR “storm the capitol” OR evacuation OR lockdown OR “lock down” OR “under attack” OR ((DC OR washington) AND riots OR terrorists OR protesters OR protestors OR occupy OR occupied OR evacuate OR evacuating OR evacuated OR “Locked down” OR lockdown OR “lock down” OR “only 13” OR “even Twitter” OR “twitter for 12” OR “delete his account” OR deletehisaccount OR “stop the steal” OR stopthesteal))

If you do decide to resume publishing, we recommend setting up queries within Khoros Intelligence or a listening platform to understand if any of your content is generating negative reactions among community members outside of your owned channels. Remember, just because it isn’t happening on your owned channels doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It’s better to err on the side of caution.

For your owned channels, we recommend creating Tags in Khoros Care or Labels in Khoros Marketing to appropriately categorize content. You can learn more about how to do that here

Continue to hold on paid advertising for US audiences through the end of the week. 

At this time, the brand risk associated with continuing to run paid ads is high as ads can come across as inappropriate while the majority of social conversation is centered elsewhere. Continuing to pause paid advertising will help to clear the way for consumers to easily access news information in their feeds. 

  • Review all national and global campaigns and pause all paid efforts across all social channels for US audiences until it is determined that brand risk has subsided and social conversation has calmed.
  • Evaluate public reception and sentiment regarding company actions or statements prior to resuming paid advertising.  
  • Prior to resuming paid advertising review all post copy and creative to ensure the content is not tone deaf or insensitive to the current social climate. 

Before resuming moderation, establish a moderation rubric that clearly establishes engagement protocols and tone of voice.

As consumers continue to process the events of yesterday, frustrations and emotions will be high. Creating a moderation rubric for community managers, moderators, and service representatives can help mitigate brand risk and ensure that internal stakeholders have oversight of ongoing moderation practices.

  • Ensure that teams who engage with customers  are equipped with clear guidelines that define if,when, and how they should be engaging with customers. 
  • If your brand has chosen to make a statement about the event, consider drafting FAQs for community managers and service representatives to utilize in moderation.
  • Establish a clear direction for tone of voice. While your brand may typically have a light-hearted or carefree tone, consumers may not respond to that tone well in the current climate. 
  • Continue to monitor community sentiment to determine if and when it’s appropriate to shift back to brand love engagements.

Please reach out to your Khoros point of contact with any additional questions or concerns.