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Extremely Online People

wiredferret profile image Heidi Waterhouse Originally published at heidiwaterhouse.com on ・2 min read

I’m writing this the night of January 6, 2021. It won’t be posted tonight, because it’s not what anyone should be paying attention to. It’s useful to me to write something else, think about something other than a coup, a putsch.

I am Extremely Online. If you follow me on Twitter, you are already aware of this. I roll over in the morning and pick up my phone to read what’s happening in the world, and I lock myself out after midnight lest I scroll forever. It’s not just Twitter, it’s news apps and other sources.

When Minneapolis erupted over the police murder of George Floyd, the second thing I did was write my social media team and ask them to stop our automated, scheduled tweets and promotions, because it’s not ok for us to be interjecting our conference announcements in the middle of a nation’s pain.

I wrote in and did the same thing tonight, and I’ve written a note for myself, for when we go back to work:

We need a kill switch for all scheduled media, to use in the event of national or international crisis.

This is not about “I’m awesome at my job”, this is about “your team needs an extremely online person who has the authority and capacity to halt posting”. I mean, preferably you would have several, on a on-call style rotation, but let’s start with the basics.

Social media is hard. I mean really hard. We joke about the “interns who run the Twitter account”, but these are dedicated professional teams who do a lot of workshopping, study, theory, and brand education. It’s not really a joking matter. Except for the days you workshop whether My Little Pony or Spongebob is the right meme response. I am only on the very fringes of Brand Media Land, and mostly it happens because I care about other humans in the world, my company, and our brand, in that order. I can look into it and see complexity all the way down, like a Mandelbrot set. If you have that team, I want you to respect the heck out of them. And as part of respecting them, I want you to empower them to turn off whatever posts they have queued, without asking for permission up the chain.

And people, I know it’s not that easy. There are bidding markets that work in the millisecond and fraction of a cent to get ads on pages, and it’s not possible to repopulate all that. But look at what you can do, what your scheduling tool for Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn looks like, and have a plan to stop that schedule. Because if your cheery tweet about signing up for a chance to win a pair of headphones is directly under news footage of someone being murdered, that’s fucked up.

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