5 Step Facebook Marketing Action Plan

5 Step Facebook Marketing Action Plan

I’ve struggled with this post. One that I know that is necessary, but one that I want to handle delicately.

Friday was an emotional day. I’m not going to refer to what happened on that day because I do not think it is relevant to this discussion, and the wounds are still far too fresh. But it was the type of day that you cannot plan for.

While you certainly can’t plan for that type of tragedy as a parent, family member, friend or human being, it’s also difficult to plan for this type of news as a brand or business owner.

I hate even writing those words because they sound callous. But the point is that too many brands came away looking tone deaf and insensitive because they were too focused on business to care like human beings.

The problem, though, is that many likely were ready to put business aside. But they hadn’t taken the proper steps to address what was already in motion.

I learned this on the fly. Hopefully I’ll never have to take these steps again. But we should be prepared, since undoubtedly there will be another big news event that will impact our planned messaging in the future.

Once some world-changing news comes in, collect all of the facts. If your gut tells you that this may impact your messaging, do the following…

1. Stop Everything

Once you’ve determined that the events of the current day may change your message, stop everything. Related to Facebook, this includes:

  • Scheduled Posts
  • Promoted Posts
  • Facebook Ads

Understand that this does not mean you won’t be restarting them shortly. But you need to give yourself some time to evaluate whether your scheduled and promoted messaging will make your brand appear insensitive, out of touch or tone deaf.

When big news like Friday’s hits, no one cares about your marketing messages. You need to understand this. More importantly, you could take a major hit to your brand if you do not adjust.

Play it safe. This allows you the chance to observe how users are interacting with brands and determine whether your messaging will attract unwanted blowback.

2. Listen and Observe

Once your messaging goes silent, observe closely. What are other brands saying? What are the reactions of Facebook users?

I watched and winced as cheery holiday messages flowed into my News Feed from brands. Other messages were clearly planned before the day’s events. The reaction was emotional and negative.

You can’t approach such a day as “business as usual.” Understand that particularly in the News Feed, your messages are surrounded by those of shocked, outraged and emotional friends. Your marketing pitch is out of place and unwanted.

So take a close look and determine how similar brands are behaving and the user response.

3. Contribute or React

Do you have value to add to the conversation?

Approach this very carefully. Once again, even a supportive and thoughtful message may be unwanted when it’s from a brand. Make sure that whatever message you share provides a unique perspective and will be accepted.

In most cases, such messages from individuals or local brands will be embraced. But bigger brands may face greater scrutiny as users may question motivation.

Know that you don’t have to respond. You may choose to go completely silent, and that may be the best decision. You will need to weigh whether your contribution is appropriate.

4. Evaluate Planned Content

If you scheduled content on Facebook or with a third party tool, now would be a good time to take a look at what you had planned for the day. Or if you simply had a plan in general, you should evaluate how you expected it to unfold.

Is it still appropriate? Maybe it is. But it’s possible you’ll need to tweak a word here, change the tone there, delay or delete the message entirely.

When in doubt, delay or delete. Not worth the backlash.

5. Reboot

Once a certain amount of time passes, you’ll return to your original marketing plan. That could be 12 hours, it could be a day, it could be a few days. It all depends on the circumstances.

You’ll need to evaluate based on the conversations you are seeing from Facebook users. Are they beginning to move back to their normal lives? How are brand messages being received?

It’s again best to err on the cautious side here. There is no rush to be first back into the flow. Take your time.

Think Like a User

I posted some of these thoughts throughout the day as suggestions to page admins. I received a sarcastic response from a user who seemed to think it was unreasonable to “stop everything.”

Give yourself some time. Be cautious. Stop everything and then address. You may find that your plan was perfectly appropriately. If most of your messaging was in sidebar ads, that may not be as big of an issue as News Feed marketing.

But it’s dangerous to address these things on the fly. Your brand’s reputation is at stake.

Did you learn anything from the way other brands behaved on Friday?

  • http://www.facebook.com/vizachero Vincent Vizachero

    Jon, I think this post is right on target. These five steps are ones EVERY brand manager should take. On Friday, I was surprised that some very savvy and large brands (e.g. Conan O’Brien) were auto-posting gun-related content in the afternoon.

    Two additional thoughts:

    1) We all have businesses to run, but breaking news can really impact us all. Unless you’ve got someone “in the office” all the time, make sure you have the tools (i.e. mobile devices, software) to take these steps no matter where you are.

    2) As you mentioned in the podcast, it is easy to be lured into using multiple tools to schedule future posts & tweets. Days like Friday present a good case for consolidating into just one or two tools, so that nothing gets overlooked, and making sure those tools are accessible by everyone on your social media team.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Good points, Vincent! While we are all busy and may have good reasons for not addressing our content immediately in a time like this, users don’t care. That’s why it’s important to have a plan.

      I agree that it helps to consolidate. Unfortunately, it sure seems difficult to find the right tool to do everything you need it to do!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ReidRosefelt Reid Rosefelt

    Good post, Jon. Turning off ads on Friday was the instinctual, right thing to do. The harder question is when is it okay to get back to business as usual…. no obvious answer for that.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      You’re right, Reid, no obvious answer. Just a matter of watching, listening and reacting. Since it was Friday, I more or less went back to “business as usual” on Saturday, but my weekend content stream is slower anyway.

  • Guest

    Definitely good thinking. As an avid facebook user, I noticed that I was very unimpressed with brands that continued their own marketing messages that day as if it was business as usual.

    Sidenote: “Tone deaf” means musically inept, unable to tell when a note is in tune or not. I think you meant “stone deaf”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/vizachero Vincent Vizachero

      “Tone-deaf” is commonly used to refer to similar phenomena in non-musical (e.g. political) situations and is an apt metaphor in this case. For another example, Mitt Romney was widely described as “tone-deaf” when he used the phrase “binders full of women”.

  • http://twitter.com/skullsflying Julia C. Campbell

    This is a much needed post. Brands and marketers alike are not being callous or insensitive, we are wondering what to do and how to handle this. We are people and we are also affected by the tragedy, and we need to go back to that humanity first before starting our marketing plan again. Thanks for posting, it was brave.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Julia!

  • RuthSheahan

    Very nice Jon. I wrote a similar post yesterday as I had several clients wondering what to do. I didn’t include “listen” though. Sage advice.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Brilliant minds, Ruth, right?

  • Stacy Wells

    As a person who works is social media for a few non-profit agencies, all whose work involve mental illness issues to some degree, Friday left me stunned. I certainly did step one, stopped everything. Regarding the third step, going quiet was not an option. I feel quite adrift since no one in any of the companies I work for know what to do. Are there any blogs, authors, etc. with content related to the work of non-profits? Do I need to start one? Thanks in advance for any tips because I have no idea when to return to the planned posts on coping with the holidays (staying sober, reducing stress, importance of diet, sleep, exercise) because it seems like the whole country is simply trying to cope with the scope of this tragedy.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hi, Stacy. The “going silent” step doesn’t apply to everyone. It’s the step I recommend for anyone who isn’t sure what to do. If you can provide value, you should share. And in your case, you should definitely share!

  • http://www.jkrule.com Juliette Rule

    I’m glad to say my team was on the ball, and we had a thoughtful discussion about what to post and how to adjust our cadence. I disagree with stopping everything though because, frankly, as a consumer of content I don’t want to go to “my Facebook” and see nothing but tragic news. It provided some levity, I hope, for those “addicted” to their news feeds. In the case of Twitter, we adjusted differently, for reasons that I think are obvious. Our Facebook post on the events – our condolences – brought users/fans to debate an aspect of the issue. That was an unintended effect and an experience that surely will shape my decision the next time I have to make it on a breaking news day.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      It doesn’t surprise me one bit that you were on the ball, Juliette!

      As far as “stopping everything” goes, that’s a potentially temporary measure. I think it’s important to first stop to see what it is you had scheduled and planned before moving forward. It’s a safety step. Once you get a feel for where you are, what you were planning to say and what is happening around you, then I think you should look at either participating or going silent. That step will depend on the brand!

      Thanks, Juliette!

  • http://www.agentredefined.com/ George “El Guapo” Cuevas

    Good post. I believe you’re spot on. It was a horrific day last Friday and with the way Facebook is used now many of us turned to Facebook to sound off our feelings about the tragic event. Many people were finding out about the event directly on Facebook. In our office that’s how I had heard about it when I started seeing posts about it on FB.

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  • Jillian Cadet

    Where’s your social share icons?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hi, Jillian. I use Digg Digg.

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