Is it too soon to bring Shamu's Twitter account back?
That's the question SeaWorld's social media team is struggling with after a trainer was killed during a show by a whale named Tilikum.
Shamu still does shows at the park, but the humorous voice behind the Shamu Twitter account -- which has engaged with fans with jokes, trivia and photos -- hasn't spoken since Feb. 25.
With over 10,000 followers, the Shamu account was a highly successful way for the theme park to get involved with the community and promote the park. Currently, the park is sending all marketing messages from the vanilla-flavored account SeaWorld_Parks.
To SeaWorld's credit, its marketing team worked hard after the tragedy to address the touchy questions and comments thrown upon them on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Instead of dodging questions about whale captivity, the team would responded to as many people as they could with how they care for the animals and the conservation work they do.
As time passed, the page filled with fans commenting about their love for the park and the whales.
Anne Fischer, the senior manager for lifestyle and digital marketing at SeaWorld, traveled from Orlando to the Florida Atlantic University campus in Davie to discuss this with the audience at last week's Social Media Club South Florida gathering.
She said in hindsight, her team would have done a few things differently. The SeaWorld team had not previously crafted strategy of how to handle a crisis like that.
"We weren't prepared to the degree we should have been,'' Fischer said.
She wished she could have done more, such as being able to understand tools to monitor what was being said on the Web. Or being more on top of deleting the inappropriate photos people were posting on the Facebook page.
She asked the audience if the Shamu Twitter account should be reactivated. After the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, is it too soon for humor? Or has enough time passed? And if the account reactivates, will it have the same tone?
Audience members had a hard time giving a definite answer. One person said it would be crazy not to use the Shamu account because of how large of a marketing tool it is for the park, but it's too soon to launch it now.
I'm on the side of bringing the account back. It always has been a favorite account of this column; every tweet brought a smile to Niala and I, and the world could use more smiles.
I'd start it back slowly. Give it a calm tone of showcasing cute photos of other animals. And I wouldn't make any cracks about being hungry or trivia about the strength of killer whales.
But that's easy for me to say when I'm not in SeaWorld's shoes.
So what do you think?