When the world experiences a short-term crisis like a storm or school shooting, it’s easy to know what to do. You mute your social media marketing for a few days out of respect for the situation and how people are responding to it.

But what’s the proper etiquette when the crisis or disaster is not going to wrap up in a few days? The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is showing all the signs of being a long conflict with new events and news coming from that region of the world every day.

Should you just go dark until it’s resolved?

There is no definitive right answer to this question. But I do believe there are best practices and practical considerations we should all keep in mind as we navigate this situation with our brand. In some ways, it’s the ideal time to be active online. People are generally more active on social during a crisis because they’re checking their news sources more often.

But how do you engage in a way that feels respectful to the situation and still helps you accomplish your marketing goals?

No matter what you decide to do, at the very least, you need to make sure your brand is not being insensitive to the reality of the day. Double-check that your existing marketing platforms like your website do not have copy or imagery that would suggest you’re being thoughtless about the circumstance. If you’re running advertising, double-check that there’s no room for interpretation or misunderstanding.

After you do that, you should turn your attention to your social media posts and placements. If you use any sort of automated tool to share social posts across platforms, you’ll want to consider pausing that automation since you aren’t actively monitoring all of the content. This is a time to be very intentional about what you share or don’t share.

For many brands, social media is a pivotal channel within their marketing mix. Unfortunately, the crisis in Ukraine is likely to go on for some time. Halting all activity for a long period may have a significant impact. The key to handling this well (meaning to avoid backlash that tarnishes your brand, embarrasses your employees or customers, etc.) is active management and erring on the side of being a tad oversensitive.  

You absolutely can still post and even sell online, but you need to remember where your audience’s heads and hearts are in the moment.

Double-check your copy, calls to actions, and even your tone to make sure it will play well in the current environment. Be mindful of your frequency, and if you’re inclined to take a stand or comment on the world event, do so with respect for the wide range of people you are probably talking to at any given moment. If you do comment on what’s going on, be sure you are monitoring your account for comments or reactions. You don’t want to let those sit for too long without a response.

Use this time to double down on engaging with your audience. Everyone is probably feeling the tension of the day, and this is the moment to be more human, not less. When the world feels uncertain or scary, we all hunger for more connection. This is a wonderful time to let the human side of your brand shine. 

Remember that people are hypersensitive right now, so you also need to temper your reactions to any comments or responses you get. The watchwords when posting during a crisis are grace and patience. Give yourself and your audience plenty of both.