This past Friday, when the news of the Sandy Hook Massacre broke, I had a tough time regarding work. On one hand, I’m a marketer. My job is to create relationships with consumers and potential consumers on behalf of the brands I represent. On the other hand, I’m a human being, an American, a mother. My children are about the same age as the children lost on Friday.

Peter Shankman, one of the social media marketers I follow, not only because his personal posts are entertaining, but also because I agree with what he says about how to relate via social had a discussion going on his page midday Friday. He encouraged all those who do what I do to remove any scheduled posts, to be sensitive by not posting the normal folly we tend to publish on the weekend to keep our audiences engaged (I’m paraphrasing here, this is what I got from it).

I thought this advice was right on. In fact, right around the time I read it, I also saw a post (must have been scheduled) by a company talking about little black dresses for New Year’s Eve. As a consumer, this just rubbed me the wrong way. Don’t interrupt my newsfeed with your sales opportunity, I don’t want to hear it right now.

I took it a bit further. We did cancel anything we had posted (not much, because we tend to not schedule posts unless necessary). I emailed my team immediately and asked them to leave their pages dark through the weekend – let people grieve without interruption. There were discussions on social not only about gun control and mental health in the US, but also what people could do.. feeling so helpless. With Hurricane Sandy still so fresh in our minds, many people are in the habit of texting a number, and donating money to the Red Cross, or collecting food and sending to the victims. But in this situation, we are helpless. No money is going to help the families, friends and colleagues deal with their pain in Connecticut.

I then emailed my clients and let them know that this was our plan, and that we believed it in their best interest to allow people time to grieve and communicate free of marketing messages through the weekend. Several clients wrote back and thanked me for having my team looking out for them.

The last thing I wanted any of my brands to do was to interrupt someone’s grief with their holiday sale or news about their product. This could backfire and have consumers posting negative comments on the page, and probably unliking the company’s page, and the company in general.

Today, we must somehow get back on track. We recognize it is the week before Christmas, and we owe it to our clients to spread the word about their company. But we tread lightly. We must post content that is not in isolation, that relates to those directly affected, and those feeling the pain around the country.

We continue to constantly keep the consumer (the reader) in mind.

With thoughts and prayers to the families in Newtown, CT on this rainy Monday morning.

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