The NRA’s Social Media Vanishing Act

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During times of national mourning and in the wake of tragedy, it is crucial that brands use the utmost sensitivity in their social media management. Over the past year, we’ve seen companies get shamed for not thinking before they tweet. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve also seen companies face problems head-on by using Facebook and Twitter to address the concerns of their followers. But rarely do we see a brand just disappear the moment a nationwide discussion heats up involving the very product they champion.

“10 Days of NRA Giveaways!” was the last enthusiastic tweet heard from the National Rifle Association on Friday morning; the day before, the company proudly celebrated the milestone of getting 1.7 million likes on Facebook. Happening right after that last tweet, of course, was the tragic shooting at the elementary school in Newton, Connecticut. Since then, the NRA has taken down its Facebook page and has not returned to Twitter.

While it isn’t unusual for a company to stay mum during an explosive event, disabling a Facebook completely is a rare move indeed. Many speculate that the NRA got off of Facebook as a precautionary measure.

Josh Constine, a writer for TechCrunch, told USAToday that he believes the NRA took down its Facebook page because “pro- and anti-gun citizens likely would have gone to war on its wall,” adding that “discussions could have taken an ugly turn, with those on either side leaving inappropriate posts and comments.” Naturally, the NRA, like the rest of us, can get back on Facebook in the next 30 days without losing any fans or data.

Staying off of social media for a controversial brand like the NRA probably isn’t the worst idea. Part of good social media management is knowing when a situation is too hot — essentially, when to back off. Besides, the NRA getting in the middle of social media battles isn’t actually going to solve anything.

So, readers, let’s turn it over to you: Do you think the NRA made the right move? And do you think they’ll come back to Facebook once all of this blows over? And finally, what do you think the reaction from social media will be when/if they return? Tell us about it below!

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