Social Media “RIP” Reads Like Branded Cash-In
The Artist Formerly Known as Prince has died. So far, 2016 has marked the expirations for many of the creative legends of our lifetime. When we lose a creative force, an icon or celebrity, the internet begins a conversation with a blanket theme of mourning. Many brands make the decision to join in on the conversation, but is it the right thing to do? I don’t think so, well, at least not most of the time. Hear me out.
When it comes to social media, hashtags are a great way to join in on a conversation, but just because something is trending, it doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate for all brands to jump on the line. Imagine Prince as any regular person who had a regular job and lived a normal life; let’s call him Joe. Joe has died. You worked with Joe once a while back at an agency right after university. Joe was the copyeditor and you worked in account services. You had lunch with Joe once.
You do not post on your social media accounts, “RIP Joe,” because that would be unnatural and a cry for attention.
That is why (IMHO) Cheerios shouldn’t have tweeted a blatantly branded purple graphic reading “rest in peace” with a Cheerio served up as the tittle. Cheerios and Prince didn’t have a relationship (unless the artist was quite fond of the breakfast cereal and it wasn’t mentioned in his wiki page) much like Joe the copyeditor and you.
AdvertisingAge did a round up of brands that jumped in on the conversation and some of the brands quickly realized that their creative choices may not have been in the best taste and deleted the original posts (which in social media marketing is to be avoided at all costs). But alas, the ability to screenshot means brands’ blunders become immortal, much like Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
But when is it OK for a brand to #mourn with the rest of the internet? I think, when it’s relevant and makes sense, then it’s permissible if done with the utmost sensitivity. It has to feel genuine from the audience’s point of view.
But this concept of posting when relevant applies to all brands at all times. Nike shouldn’t post about mattresses; it wouldn’t be relevant (Just Sleep It sounds like a copywriter gave up). It’s vital that brands keep their social media messaging on-brand at all times. Any brand associated with the entertainment industry may have had a relevant opportunity to contribute to online conversations concerning Prince.
Moral of the story is: it takes a seasoned social media specialist to help a brand navigate the dos and don’ts of social media, especially during times of mourning. Hiring a social media manager or agency to manage your brand can help your business avoid a PR disaster that was never in the forecast.