#NeverForget: A Dilemma for Marketers

Team frank

You’ve seen the news stories about social media mishaps made by brands across the country. An employee mistakenly sends an inappropriate personal tweet from the corporate account. A disgruntled intern airs her frustrations with the company. An insensitive hashtag creates a social media uproar.

The latest batch of poorly thought-out posts came on a day when most companies would have been better off remaining silent: September 11th. Let’s be clear: Most of these tweets were made with good intentions. But when memorializing a tragic event or commenting on the latest social issues from your brand’s perspective, you’re walking a razor-thin line. Here are a few reasons why it’s often smarter to stay silent.

No one expects you to comment
Can you really imagine a social media user waiting with baited breath for your company’s thoughts on the anniversary of an awful day in our nation’s history? Neither can we. Everyone has their own way of dealing with tragedies, be it immersing themselves in news coverage, spending time with loved ones, or simply trying to get back to normal as quickly as possible. They certainly aren’t looking to your brand to put things into perspective.

The risk outweighs the reward
Think about the best-case scenario for this type of post. Maybe you get anywhere from a handful to a few hundred likes/retweets and no one seems too upset. Now consider the worst-case scenario. You begin receiving snarky and outraged responses from offended users, and pretty soon the story goes viral. You end up on a variety of news and industry websites, and you’re forced to issue an apology as you watch hundreds of former fans hit the ‘unfollow’ button. It’s just not worth it.

Brands can’t have emotions
By definition, every branded social media post is a marketing effort, no matter how sincere and transparent your efforts may be. You may have great people running your social media accounts, but customers will always see your company as a business – not a friend, confidant, or colleague. That makes it extremely difficult for a company to post on social media about events like September 11th without being perceived as capitalizing on a loss of life to drum up business.

Whether during the anniversary of a national tragedy, the aftermath of a natural disaster, or the frenzy of a major social issue that has captivated the country, navigating your brand’s social media presence can be a tricky proposition at best. Unless your company is directly involved with one of these events and has a relevant, critical message to convey, it’s probably wisest to stay silent.


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