It is important to be conscious of current events when managing social media accounts. While using trends and events can be effective ways to relate to public through the things they’re talking about, we all know the stories of people retracting posts because of lacking sensitivity during events that should not be leveraged on by companies.
The Hall of Shame is lined with brands met with criticism from the public by seeming to use tragedy to promote their brand through social media. In September 2014, DiGiorno used the trending hashtag #WhyIStayed, used by abuse survivors following former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s termination, without knowing its context. Earlier this month, the Seattle Seahawks used Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an opportunity to plug their involvement in this year’s Super Bowl, drawing comparisons between civil rights and a football game and ultimately offending the public.
While instances may arise where interacting with trends make sense in light of the greater marketing goal, deciding if a tweet is tasteful and beneficial for your company requires considering the following rules of thumb:
Pause and review. Always know exactly what messages are scheduled in your campaign and be prepared to pause it if and when a large-scale event happens. Review the content consumers will see and the searches that will trigger it. Advertising on searches that address a tragedy or crisis event may appear insensitive to consumers and victims. For a roofing company, “tornado repair” may seem like a great term to attract new customers – unless a major tornado has resulted in excessive and tragic damages, like the Moore tornado in 2013.
Consider changing the content. If possible, alter ad content to help your audience deal with the situation. In the case of the roofing advertiser, changing the content to reroute to a hotline for filing claims, rather than an ad soliciting new business, can help shift company image from exploitative to responsive. Localizing campaigns can be especially beneficial in these situations. You may even consider creating informative content about charities taking donations or organizations helping victims. Your quick response in times of crisis can make a large difference to a current or potential customer and lead to deeper connections.
Have a backup for your backup plan. Assign an experienced marketer to keep up with current events and formulate alternative marketing plans. Having a substitute campaign ready will enable a quicker, more thoughtful response when it becomes necessary. This is especially helpful in a team, so that someone is always available to deal with crises.
Be genuine in doing good for others. Brands benefit from having genuine human response. Since social media allows for real-time interaction, consumers have heightened expectations of critical information. Failure to meet this new standard could mean you may miss an opportunity to do some real good in this world and possibly get unfriended or unfollowed on a national level.