Planning content for September resulted in a debate and inner struggle on whether businesses (and our clients specifically) should post on September 11th. The atrocities that occurred 17 years ago today have definitely changed the world, and affected everyone living in our great country. It’s our generation’s Pearl Harbor.
There are several arguments online against remembering September 11th on social media. It is so hard to decide what to do. But, how do you not post something? How do you not honor all the innocent lives lost? How can you stay silent and not give thanks for all the brave men and women who risked and gave their lives to save others?
Then there was the discussion of how do you tastefully and respectfully remember the day. Several posts? One subtle one? Go dark (but no one will realize why you’re going dark)?
Should brands post to social media on 9/11?
The answer to this question is emotionally complex, and the degree to which companies ‘get it right’ will depend upon the emotional intelligence of the company’s social media strategy. While the goal might be to tastefully pay tribute with no outspoken commercial goal, will brand followers still consider the tribute to be marketing? After all, the sole purpose of a company’s brand channel is to commercially market itself.
Is “silence” a statement?
Many brands observe silence or “go dark” on 9/11 with little to no social media activity. Some would argue that silence is the only reasonable action, some would actually argue the opposite. It can feel disingenuous for a very socially-engaged company to be silent on such an important day in our history.
In the past, Verizon Foundation was lauded for announcing its intent to observe silence the day prior in a very sober, non-promotional manner:
Risk management is part of social media management
Social media comes with an inherent risk of negative reaction to brand activity. This balance of risk and reward requires that a company truly understand their social media landscape. Decisions as important as whether or not to post a tribute or statement around 9/11 Remembrance will test the success of companies’ social media management efforts.
We chose to post on all client platforms in honor of all the innocent lives lost and to recognize the first responders who were willing to sacrifice themselves to save others. It was a difficult decision to make, but ultimately we feel like the audiences of each of those companies know their voices and understand the intention behind the posts.
That morning changed our country in profound ways. But, it also made so many of us thankful and proud to be an American! We are responsible for the legacy we leave to our children. We need to let September 11th serve as a reminder that life is short, there is evil in the world, but we can overcome ANYTHING! And, we must NEVER FORGET.