Social media
for brands in
times of crisis

Kate Ware, BuzzPop Brands

6 January 2020

It’s almost impossible to put words to the scale of the disaster at hand; today, my first day back at work and not only is the air heavy with smoke but emotion. Geelong is hundreds of km’s away from the fire fronts of Gippsland and the South Coast of NSW, and yet here we are, blanketed by the aftermath of destruction, my colleagues and I all simultaneously feeling helpless (among many other emotions).

Being glued to media channels all weekend, the endless stories of heartbreak have also been balanced by some tiny glimmers of light and hope in how people are using social media to unite and rally. As Celeste Barber keeps reminding us – power to the people.

But what can brands do in times like these to make a positive impact and to act empathetically? While life and work must go on, it’s important to ensure businesses consider the sensitives of operating on social media during these times.

Acknowledge this is not business as usual

It’s not. Have a discussion with your team and decide on the appropriate approach and response from your organisation. The right approach will be different for everyone so ensure it’s aligned to your audience and brand.

Review all current and upcoming content urgently

This applies to both organic and paid social media content. If your organisation uses different departments or agencies for both components of your social, be sure to get everyone on the same page.

Review the language, tone and imagery in light of the bushfires and make changes if required. Nike has already been called out for inappropriate copy for their Australian Open apparel launch.

If it’s not right for your brand, don’t feel obliged to post about the bushfires.

Being a good corporate citizen is important but not everything needs to go on social media

Being a good corporate citizen is important, but not EVERYTHING needs to go on social media


  • Make appropriate changes to your content strategy
    Don’t feel obliged to post about the bushfires. Depending on your organisation and where you operate, perhaps posting less might be more appropriate. When you are posting, be sure you know what’s going up and when.Don’t try and leverage your business on the crisis

    Asking for shares, likes or comments for donations can be seen as a tasteless ploy to increase engagement. If you wish to make a donation and share that publicly, do so with grace and without asking for recognition.

    Help out how you can

    If that’s making a monetary donation – wonderful. If it’s activating your community to make donations – fab. If it’s sharing important, newsworthy content with your audience – also great! Not every brand is going to be able to help in the same way.

    It’s OK to make a private donation

    Being a good corporate citizen is important, but not everything needs to go on social media. If it doesn’t feel right to share, leave it off.

    Beware of spreading misinformation

    Social media is rife with #fakenews at the best of times, but more than ever, people need facts and timely information from reliable sources. Share information from official sources such as the State-based emergency departments and large charities such as the Red Cross, Food Bank. Avoid sharing crowd-funded charity appeals like ‘Go Fund Me’ pages because they do not have the same level of accountability and monies can end up anywhere.

    The increase in emotions for many Australians can make social media an even more volatile landscape for business right now. But with the right approach, we can use it to help; to be better. Just remember, your brand on social media should always be human. What would you do or say if this was face to face?


If you are interested and in the financial position to do so, you can donate to the following official appeals:

Bendigo Bank Bushfire Appeal

The Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund

The Salvation Army Disaster Appeal

Zoos Victoria Wildlife Bushfire Relief

WIRES Emergency Fund for Wildlife

Kate Ware is a social media strategist based in Geelong and Melbourne and Founder of BuzzPop Brands; social media for business’ who demand (the right kind of) attention.

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