Mass tragedies like the one that befell Brussels this week are becoming an all-to-common part of our reality. Given that social media also now owns a firm place in our day-to-day lives, the two often become intertwined. So how should brands respond to tragedies on social media? The better question, in our opinion, is should brands respond at all. Full disclosure: We typically advise our clients against reacting to tragedies on their social platforms, and we aim to illustrate our reasoning in this edition of Weekly Reads.
Complex: Khloé Kardashian Faces Backlash for Her Instagram Tribute to Brussels
There are times when the Kardashians (begrudgingly) deserve a tip-of-the-cap for their usage of social media. This is far from one of them. Here, Kholé Kardashian illustrates the easiest faux pas committed when it comes to reacting to tragedies on social media: simply reacting. When you pick and choose tragedies worthy of your response, you trivialize others. This rang especially true as Kholé condemned terrorism, an act that is a daily reality in other parts of the world.
International Business Times: Why You Shouldn’t Post on Social Media Regarding Brussels Attacks
Not only is your social media post unlikely to offer any substantial support to those impacted by tragedy, it might adversely affect them. Dubbed “slacktivism” in a 2013 study, social trends like changing your Facebook profile picture to national flag colors or posting images in support of a grieving region might actually be damaging giving and volunteering. The research showed posting support online allows people to feel connected to causes, but makes them less inclined to give or volunteer for them.
MarketingLand: When Tragic News Strikes, Should Brands Adjust Their Social Media?
Not only might it be prudent for you to refrain from responding directly to tragedies, it may also make sense to halt your regularly scheduled social posts. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “stop all posts” button available in social scheduling tools like Hootsuite, HubSpot or Buffer. As such, this article breaks down scenarios in which you should and shouldn’t consider the arduous task of canceling or delaying your queued-up social posts.
When Responding Makes Sense
Condé Nast Traveler: Brussels Attacks Prove Why Twitter, 10 Years On, Still Matters
There’s always an exception to the rule. This article addresses the filter through which all potential social posts on tragedies should run: Is my post useful to those directly impacted? Maybe you have offices close to the scene where you can safely provide shelter. Maybe you have the means to help a family search for missing loved ones. Maybe you’re a leader in the community struck by this tragedy, and you can help disseminate pertinent information. Those may be appropriate tragedy-related posts on Twitter, the optimized medium for real-time information sharing.
A Bit of Levity
Mashable: Someone used this Burger King ad in response to the Brussels attacks
Forgot about that brilliant bit of creative from a foregone decade? The Internet didn’t. And in the case of this week’s Brussels tragedy, an 8-year-old ad campaign executed for a single Burger King in New Zealand, which is more than 11,000 miles away, suddenly became relevant. Why? Because it included a strategically placed French Fry, one of Belgium’s national symbols.