Significant Events and Social Media Marketing

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Jacqueline Zenn
Jacqueline Zenn



social-media-eventMajor national events always lead to plenty of buzz and discussion on social media, whether they are disastrous and serious or planned entertainment.

It goes to follow that it can be tempting for a busy community manager to jump on the latest trending bandwagon, but of course, that’s not always the ideal course of action for the accounts you are managing.

The elements to consider include whether or not the event itself is actually related to your brand. Seemingly irrelevant brands can sometimes pull it off (e.g., Oreo at the Superbowl), but it can be a risky maneuver at best.

Naturally, there are some obvious connections. For instance, fashion and beauty labels posting about celebrity looks at awards shows is logical; the same goes for athletic gear or sports drinks brands commenting on recent games.

Commenting on holidays can also be tricky, despite the fact that it is mostly harmless except for religion-centric occasions. That said, a CPG brand posting a Christmas cookie recipe is unlikely to incite serious social media outcry, but overall, it’s best to keep things neutral and secular.

However, while it might appear painfully obvious, consumers can view brands jumping in on the disaster buzz as glaringly opportunistic. That being said, if your brand has some kind of connection to the event or simply wants to offer well wishes or condolences, keep in mind that it is possible to do so tastefully.

Links to charitable resources or even creating a fundraiser are also good ideas overall – just keep in mind that helping out is more important than bumping your positive sentiment percentage up a few notches.

Also, avoid overt branding because, honestly, consumers know it is a brand posting – they can see your handle, page name, etc. Sincerity counts, and don’t be afraid to delete and immediately apologize if it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully, this should be obvious, but never tie a tragic event into a promotion or consumer opportunity. Don’t even consider sending pitches or marketing emails while the event is ongoing.

In the event of a significant tragedy, it can be a good move to turn off scheduled posts that have nothing to do with it in order to avoid appearing insensitive. No matter what the data might tell you, sometimes it is better to go silent — even at key times — than to risk negative sentiment. Remember that data doesn’t have feelings, but your audience does.

Finally, do not make any definitive statements about what happened unless your brand is directly involved – and even then, get the approval of the collective communications team or PR director. All of the brand’s media should present a united front.

If posting something seems like a bad idea, go with your gut feeling. There’s no telling whether one irate consumer’s tweet or comment will blow up after all. On the other hand, keeping things on the positive side is almost always a good idea: If you can’t post anything nice, don’t post anything at all (at least as a brand community manager).

It is also important to double check where you are posting from (everyone in social media remembers the Chrysler incident). In fact, that is a smart move across the board — regardless of whether your draft content is related to current events. While an error may be overlooked most of the time, something insensitive posted during a crisis may have a far greater reach than anticipated.

In the end, joining in and posting about significant events is a risky choice for a brand, whether they are entertaining or tragic. However, if community managers follow these basic recommendations and maintain a genuine voice, commenting on events as a brand can result in positive awareness.

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