Guest Post by: Sydney Wilcox, student
The role of social media in today’s world is one that has truly defined a generation. The affect that social media has had on the way our culture communicates is truly fascinating. Not only has it shaped the way that individuals communicate, but it has also opened up a new stage for organizations to reach out to their consumers. In today’s world there is no such thing as strategic communication that does not include social media. That is just the reality. The questions and concerns that come along with this new form of two way communication are, is there ever a time when organizations need to silence their voices on social media out of respect for a community in pain?
It seems to me that social media has become such a necessary tool in strategic marketing that organizations will do or say just about anything to get a like, retweet, favorite, etc. This can lead to companies posting things on social media that are gravely disrespectful and insensitive.
This past week the United States came together for an annual day of grief to remember those who were lost on September 11th, 12 years ago. As a product of my generation the first thing I do each morning is scroll through my twitter feed. I usually awaken to the usual complaint about schoolwork, or classes, or the occasional funny anecdote that a peer of mine managed to skew down to 140 characters. My stomach dropped, however, when I noticed that not a single tweet was about anything but September 11th. I felt torn between the feelings of irritation and understanding. As Americans we are expected to, and should remember, this horrific day in our history. Though I acknowledge the importance of this remembrance, I found myself peeved by the fact that everyone had something to say, as if they all were personally connected. Individuals and organizations alike were trying to make this day about them. I was blown away by the tweets I found where organizations were shamelessly trying to create promotions out of 9/11 by bringing attention toward their companies. This is not an isolated event, companies using community crisis to connect with their consumers and bring attention to their company is becoming a reoccurring problem in our culture.
It led me to wonder, why on a day of such sadness is it no longer okay to reflect inward with silence? Instead, both individuals and organizations must prove that we remember. I believe that this need to be constantly heard is wrong, and there is, without a doubt, a time for silence on social media. A time where less is more, and creating a promotion out of a crisis is in bad taste.
Organizations linking themselves to crises in an attempt to receive attention or simply not being conscious of current events is a problem. This too often results in posting disrespectful texts, which have become a reoccurring theme in today’s media. That needs to be addressed.
These three companies used social media as a way to connect with their consumer base in a time of crisis, or simply out of ignorance posted inappropriate things on social media during these times. In today’s times it is a company’s social responsible to remain constantly informed and conscious of what they are saying to their publics. It is also essential for us, as individuals, and as organizations to act out of public interest, not self-interest. There are times where no words are needed, and a promotion is simply unacceptable.