Tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck provide busy social media users with the facility to line up several social media posts in one sitting, and have them go live at a later date. This is really handy for businesses, as it means they can push ahead, cover for absences and send a post out without actually logging into Facebook or Twitter at the time.
However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can sit back and not worry about social media for a while, because the context of what you’ve posted may change over time, and something that was perfectly innocent at the time it was scheduled may become unintentionally humorous or inappropriate due to what’s going on in the wider world.
An example of this occurred this week with Premier League football club Chelsea. Last Friday, the London club was dealt a transfer ban by FIFA, but they seemed to have forgotten all about that within a week and sent out a tweet yesterday asking fans who the club should sign at the end of the season. This was swiftly deleted, but Russian club FC Zenit were onto it quickly.
— FC Zenit in English✨ (@fczenit_en) February 27, 2019
The likelihood is that Chelsea didn’t forget about the ban (which they are planning to appeal against), but rather that someone scheduled a post in advance and it wasn’t checked in the time between scheduling and posting. The result is more unwanted publicity for the Stamford Bridge outfit, after some poor results of late were compounded last weekend with the bizarre spectacle of their goalkeeper refusing to be substituted – a situation that has since been put down to a “misunderstanding”.
A similar example of a scheduled tweet controversy involved Tesco in January 2013. It’s hard to imagine what could be the problem with closing the day’s social media operations with a comment that they were “off to hit the hay”, until you remember that at the time, the supermarket was engulfed in a scandal about horsemeat being found in some of its products.
A disaster or high-profile death is an obvious example of when pre-scheduled content might need to be looked at again. It’s a strange thought that as we speak, broadcasters will be working on obituaries and tributes to people who are still alive. In fact, there is a whole operation codenamed ‘London Bridge’ for what to do when the Queen dies. The operation is regularly updated and rehearsed, involves several days of pre-recorded content, and extends to delicate matters like not playing any songs by Queen on the radio – at least not in New Zealand.
Small businesses don’t have the time or resources to be as prepared as this, but it is important to review content when it’s scheduled ahead, especially at times when a crisis is dominating the news.