After the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II, many brands took to social media to pay their respects. (Zavy’s Radar tool is showing 24,505 posts in Australia and New Zealand alone!)
Some of these were meaningful tributes from relevant voices to the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch. And some… were not.
Pizza chain Domino’s, sex toy supplier Ann Summers and iconic early-2000’s animated amphibian Crazy Frog were among the raft of brands now facing backlash for what many perceived as ill-advised tributes from brands that – perhaps – should have stayed out of the conversation altogether.
Using your brand’s social media to weigh in on current events of the moment can be a great strategy to engage your audience – when done well. But these examples show just how wrong it can go – causing major damage to customer trust and goodwill in the process.
We’ve pulled together some top tips for how to leverage key moments in the news – including some guidance on when to weigh in and when a ‘dignified silence’ is perhaps a better approach.
1. Consider the opportunity
No doubt about it: social media is all about joining the conversation. People are already talking about things that they care about – joining them can be a great way to boost your brand and show your audience that you care about the same things.
There are some great examples of this done well: just look at this post from Oreo capitalising on a power outage during the US Super Bowl way back in 2013.
Here, Oreo shows how a timely post on social media can foster audience connection and engagement with a brand.
What’s more, the humorous tone of voice hits just the right spot – mainly because the 30-minute power outage wasn’t a particularly serious crisis – while still staying true to what Oreo is about: selling cookies.
If you think your brand has something to add to the conversation, capitalising on a moment can be a great idea – just make sure you think carefully before hitting post.
2. Remember who you are
There’s lots to be gained from weighing in on a conversation currently happening in news or online – but where we see this done most successfully is when it’s a brand talking about news relevant to their industry.
If the current event or moment seems far removed from what your brand would normally talk about, you would be wise to take extra caution.
A drink supplier talking about the value of a refreshing beverage in a heatwave? Right on.
An international pizza chain talking about the Queen’s death? Not so much.
It can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon of the latest trending topic on social, but if doing so isn’t a natural fit with what your brand is about, then you may be best to stay clear.
This is especially true if you are weighing in on a serious political issue or sombre cultural moment – you may run the risk of doing more harm than good.
3. Listen to the conversation first
There are times when your brand may choose to respond to a cultural moment or take a political stance – we’re seeing this more and more with brands choosing to position themselves in movements like Black Lives Matter and LGBTQI+ issues.
However, these decisions need to be careful and strategic – avoid jumping in on social media before you’ve had time to think about how this approach aligns with your wider vision and values.
It’s important to keep your audience front-of-mind and find out as much as you can about an issue before you share your thoughts. This is especially true when responding to a moment in the news cycle: remember that your audience may have a wide variety of views, responses and emotions.
Figuring out what your audience is talking about – and how – is where a social listening tool like Zavy’s Radar can come in handy.
By being aware of what online conversations are happening in your industry, you can better understand the conversations your audience is having and how your competitors are responding – and tailor your messaging accordingly.
4. Track how people feel about you
The Zavy Score is a simple way to measure your brand health on social media. It’s a single metric to track your performance, improve social media engagement and compare your success against the competition. It’s a great way to understand how your social media brand building is going – the higher your score, the better!
For a deeper dive, use Zavy to look at your audience’s sentiment on each of your social posts. This will give you deeper understanding of what resonates with your audience – and when it’s safe to take some risks.
Zavy also lets you compare your posts and sentiment to others. That means if you’re thinking about making a post reacting to something in the news, you can look at how people have received similar posts in the past – from both you and your competitors. If certain types of post are performing strongly and delivering engagement, you can incorporate those into your future planning.
In all these ways and more: Zavy can help you take the temperature of the social media conversation and make more strategic decisions than ever before.