Last week, the United States honored those lost in the most horrific act of terrorism ever seen by the nation. Social streams filled with people’s thoughts, remembrances, emotions and reflections on the tragic event. It was a somber day online for many, understandably, and a confusing day to be a community manager for brands in the United States. Brands struggled to find their voice in the midst of the reflections, grief and thoughts.
As brands try to be more human and connect on an emotional level, the debate on how brands should approach situations like the anniversary of 9/11 or tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing continues on. More and more are falling on one side of the issue. On the 13th memorial of 9/11, a few influencers took to educating brands on how to better approach the situation.
— Mike Monteiro (@monteiro) September 11, 2014
Brands are not people.
— Sean Bonner Ⓥ (@seanbonner) September 11, 2014
What was their advice? Times like these are not times for branding or marketing. Unless your brand is involved or directly impacted by the situation, it’s best to let your community experience the grief without our input. If you do engage, keep logos and products out of the picture. Focus on your compassion and/or resources and ways for people to help the situation. If you do misstep, be quick to apologize and don’t fight the criticism, or you may follow this brand’s path.
It can be a tough time, as brands are comprised of people who are affected. But overall, most messaging during these terrible situations can come off as insensitive and promotional. And that’s the last thing your brand wants to do at a time like that. Silence can be golden.