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The NRA took the right approach with social media


I study social media technologies and strategies as part of my day job. Today is the all important day that the NRA has promised to comment on its reaction to the Newtown tragedy. I know there are a lot of parents and grandparents that are NRA members and have been impacted like the rest of us by the events of last Friday. The emotional devastation has been palpable and it’s opened up many minds, questioning long-held beliefs in search of some sort of response… however powerless we feel.

The initial response of many was to absolutely torch the NRA on Twitter and Facebook. The avalanche of criticism against the NRA was completely overwhelming as they were an easy social media target – having opposed even the most benign restrictions on the second amendment. Their idea of a ‘well regulated militia’ was seemingly no regulations at all. They claimed that they shut down their Facebook and Twitter pages out of respect for the victims. I don’t doubt for a second that they had respect for the victims but that’s not why they shut down their sites. Any good social media strategist knows that social media can be a double edged sword. When it’s positive, it can extremely positive …and when it’s negative, not so much. Here are the high level rules from the playbook on how to react to negative social media posts:

1. Respond quickly and sincerely to test if someone has a legitimate and constructive complaint.

2. If you get a constructive response, continue to stay engaged.

3. If you don’t, don’t say anything. It’s the whole ‘haters are going to hate rule.’

4. When your platform becomes overwhelmed with negative posts, shut it down so you don’t enable the opposition. Everyone has seen celebrities shut down Twitter accounts after particularly embarrassing events or exchanges.

Those are the rules and the NRA followed them. To be clear, I’m not saying they don’t care – I’m sure they do. They did it because they were well-advised by social media strategists. They took the right approach with their social media strategy – let’s hope they take the right approach with their response to Newtown tragedy announcement coming out later today.

Tim O’Loughlin

Eastward Capital Partners

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West Newton, MA 02465

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