It’s an incredibly difficult time right now in Australia.If you’re reading this far off in the future, it’s January 6, and according to Wikipedia, so far around 6.3 million hectares of land have been burned, 2500 buildings destroyed, 25 people killed and, some estimates say, over 500 million creatures are dead.
Most of us are feeling helpless.
And it’s in these times of crisis that the delicate balance of social interaction becomes even more strained.
I’ve seen so much of it on social media this week.
Arguments and outrage.
Discussion and debate.
Negativity and nastiness.
A couple of my own posts have sparked some extremely negative reactions.
I’ve also had many members of my community asking me questions like:
- What do we say online?
- Is it okay to market online?
- How do we fundraise in an ethical way?
- Is it okay to discuss politics online?
So, I want to share this post to give my thoughts on the topic.
[Tweet “How your business should behave in a crisis“]
Don’t want to read? Watch the video instead.
What should we be sharing online?
I think it’s important that, as a business, a brand, a human bean, you acknowledge the crisis.
If you haven’t already, write a simple post stating:
- How you feel about the crisis
- Ways in which people can donate – with links
Don’t feel you have to reshare every single news story.
There are groups and news services for people to follow to keep up to date on the crisis.
Don’t make this your responsibility.
In times of crisis, look for the good where you can.
You know how in the news they have an ‘and finally story’ to have some light at the end of the broadcast, it’s often uplifting to share positive stories in dark times.
Can I share light-hearted stuff?
I think this depends.
Rose Taylor shared this comment on my Facebook wall:
“As someone stuck in the middle of the disaster for a week now with fire all around and packed bags ready to go if and when required, plus a baby. I think everyone on the outside should be enjoying themselves as much as possible and running their businesses as usual.”
But while I think people will appreciate some fun, happy posts in difficult times, I’d still approach light-hearted content with caution.
TOON NOTE: I posted a picture of my son and me feeding giraffes a few days ago and was sent a message on FB telling me I was an ‘insensitive dumb bitch’. Nice.
Should I try to raise money in any way?
I’m sure like me you’ve seen people being torn to shreds online for promoting the fact that they’re trying to raise money.
I think OF COURSE you should do whatever you can.
And after you’ve made a personal donation, if you can think of clever ways to drive more money, then that’s fabulous.
Of course, you don’t want to be seen as benefiting in any way from the crisis, so it’s a delicate balance.
Perhaps share your idea with a few honest friends before you go live with it.
And don’t get defensive if they give you feedback that it’s a poo idea.
Should I start my own fundraising campaign?
Facebook makes it super easy to set up a fundraising campaign in minutes.
Celeste Barber was one of the first major celebrities to do this and when I last looked it was nearing 30 million.
I see nothing wrong with setting up your own little fundraiser for friends, family and business clients.
But of course, it might be simpler to just encourage people to donate directly, or to share an existing high-profile fundraiser.
Remember the goal is to raise awareness of the crisis, not your brand.
To raise money, not your engagement.
Think about the simplest, most efficient way to do this and go with it.
[Tweet “Remember the goal is to raise awareness of the crisis, not your brand. To raise money, not your engagement.“]
What’s the best way to use my business to drive donations?
This is a sticky one.
I’ve seen a few options on this, so let me break them down.
TOON NOTE: Let me caveat this next bit with an assurance that I think 99.9% of people’s hearts are in the right place. They want to help.
But it’s easy to make a faux pas in these tricky times – and be seen as mercenary when you were, in fact, trying to help.
Yes absolutely. Do it. Now. And as it’s tax-deductible, donate more than you might usually.
10% of profits:
Hmmm, nope. If you’re selling a product and offering 10% of profits to a crisis, you are essentially earning 90% of the profit off the back of a terrible situation. I would not recommend this.
A quote from a follower of my Facebook page:
“If you are serious about donating, then donate. Donate November 2019 profits rather than forcing people to buy your product now so you can then ‘donate’. It shits me to tears.”
100% of profits:
I think this is a fair way to earn money.
People aren’t stupid. They’re not going to buy things they’d never dreamed of buying just because you’re donating, but it might make them feel good about a purchase they were already going to make.
They might have already donated, but now get to ‘donate’ twice.
That’s a good thing, right?
(I thought this was a great promo by Bianca McKensie, collaborative and simple (and she’s covering fees herself to maximise donations.)
Donation instead of payment:
This is where you offer your time or service in return for a donation.
This is the method I chose.
I offered to do little 10-minute Toon reviews in my Facebook group in return for donations.
People may already have donated, but this allowed them to give more for something they genuinely needed.
TOON TIP: if you’re going to do this, get your customers to donate direct to the charity, not to you. They can then send a receipt of what they’ve paid.
TOON NOTE: Even though I thought this was a non-self-promotional way to help raise extra money, some people still thought it was. I decided to keep going regardless, as I knew my intentions were good.
These are the kind of donations where people say:
- “I’ll donate if you…”
- ‘Like my page and I’ll donate a dollar for every like.’
- ‘Follow me on Instagram and I’ll donate.’
This is dodgy ground if you ask me (which you kinda did by reading this post).
Big fat nope.
It smacks of using the crisis to build engagement.
Just donate and be done with it.
Or choose a different method above.
TOON TIP: If you are promising to donate on people’s behalf (I don’t recommend this) ensure you close the loop and SHOW your final donation. A simple screenshot with personal details blocked out might help.
If you’re a brilliant illustrator or talented maker, and feel the urge to create something cute to raise funds for the crisis. I see no harm in this.
If it allows someone to donate again (rather than instead of), I don’t think it can be a bad thing.
But of course, consider your environmental footprint. Does the world need your thing? Or could you spend your time and money doing something better to support fundraising efforts?
Should I publicise my donations?
I’ve seen a few brands sharing little lists of what they’ve done to help.
‘We’ve donated $xxx, we’ve sent water to x, we’ve….”
Now, I can see why this feels like a good thing to do.
You want to show that you DO care and that you have helped.
But I personally think it’s better to keep this to yourself.
|Well at least keep the dollar amounts to yourself maybe?
This is a controversial one, because of course charities rely heavily on brand sponsorships, and promotion is part of this.
And of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting people to know how you’ve helped.
But again, it just feels a bit ick and back patty, no?
Perhaps share links, by all means, to encourage others to donate, but don’t list out how much you’ve given.
Should I be marketing during a crisis?
In the thick of a crisis, it can feel entirely wrong to be trying to sell your products and services.
So, if you can hold off, then of course do.
But most of us can’t. Our business earns our income and we need to live.
We need money to pay our staff.
Earning money helps us donate more.
So yes, I think it’s fine to market during a crisis.
Life goes on.
People still need things.
Not everyone is being directly affected.
And I’m pretty sure that anyone directly impacted wouldn’t expect you to suffer on their behalf.
Of course, check your content marketing for
- Trigger words: A few misplaced words which could cause a negative reaction. I’ve seen ‘selling like wildfire’ in one ad.
- Trigger images: Check your images for anything that could cause an adverse reaction.
Be sensitive to the situation.
Don’t bombard people.
But don’t feel guilty about having to make a living.
Should I be talking about politics?
This is, of course, a personal choice.
I shared this meme by Bette Midler and the reaction was severe.
But I’m totally happy to announce that I’m not a fan of Scott Morrison.
I think this is the time to talk about climate change.
And I’m happy for people to unfollow me if they disagree with me.
If you’re comfortable with your views and okay with the consequences of sharing them, then that’s absolutely fine.
I’m all about transparency, so it works for me.
How do I handle the backlash?
If you post something and get negative feedback, try not to react immediately.
Read it, talk about it to a friend, and let it sit with you.
Is the feedback justified?
Do you agree?
If you feel you have made an error, make a straight forward apology.
None of this “I’m sorry you feel…’
Just “I’m sorry, that was not my intention.”
Then move on. And don’t let it eat you up.
If you don’t feel you made an error in judgement, stand by it.
Don’t feel you have to get in there and argue back.
Just ignore the comments and move on.
Isn’t it best to just stay out of the whole thing?
Again, if you can, yes.
Just quietly donate what you can and perhaps share some donation links to people who may not be aware of the best way to help (I found my UK and US friends were grateful for this).
Then switch off.
Of course, stay aware and hopefully get involved in helping and changing the situation, but don’t feel you need to wade into every argument and debate.
If you’re finding the whole thing overwhelming and getting upset and emotional by being online, put your mental health first and take a break.
The final word
Running a business is hard, even in the best of times.
But the same approach still applies.
Does what you’re doing feel right to you?
Does it fit with your personal morals and your brand values?
Opinions are like bumholes. Everyone has one.
Not everyone is going to like what you’re doing, and you have to accept that.
I hate to use the buzz word ‘authentic’, but I believe it applies.
I liked this from Fran Mackensie on my Facebook wall:
“If you continue to be you, authentically and any commentary you share sounds like you and your ‘voice’ and you are sharing information that is helpful for the current situation and mood, you will be ok.”
There will be some that say even writing this post is taking advantage of the crisis for my own personal gain. But I know it came from a desire to help. So pfft.
Over to you
What do you think is the best way to behave in a crisis?
Do you agree or disagree with my suggestions?
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