In recent weeks we have experienced Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, an earthquake in Mexico and deadly storms and flooding in India and West Africa. The images of destruction are powerful, and it is difficult for us not to be moved, or even overwhelmed at the pain of others.
There is a fine line between appearing empathetic and appearing opportunistic. As a marketer, it’s my mission to look for opportunity. Certainly tragedies can give brands the opportunity to build goodwill and to strengthen relationships with customers. And given the prevalence of social media, if you ignore the events and continue with business as usual, you can be seen as tone deaf and out of touch or worse—reveal that your content marketing is on auto-pilot.
So how should marketers react to a crisis? Simply put, if you do not know where the line is between being supportive and being exploitive it may be best not to take a step, at the risk of going over it.
Do you have information that can help? Do you have expertise that can make a difference? If you do, then absolutely share it. But if you do not, or if you were not impacted, or particularly if you are not actually taking action to make a positive contribution, then you should really just sit down and shut up.
There is no harm in just being quiet. Initiate a social media moratorium, stop your own and your clients’ social media posts for a day or two. Review any ongoing client programs for potential poor timing issues. Suspend any programs that could be seen as insensitive or out of touch. Listen carefully for when the time is right to resume your posting and your campaigns. And remember that there is no danger in not adding your thoughts to the conversation.