What Should I Even Be Posting Right Now?
On the day before the 2 year anniversary of the public execution of George Floyd, many Americans (Black Americans especially) had to navigate the varying depths of trauma — old and new — that came with the Uvalde,Texas school shooting just weeks after the Buffalo shooting that specifically targeted Black people. As brands and companies scramble to recant their commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion in public statements and declarations of support it can be very difficult to navigate the following question in online marketing, promoting, and sales in an environmentally tense atmosphere.
What should I even be posting right now?
“It’s Ok To Not Be The Center Of Attention”
Many business and sales models rely on active posting via social media (or paid advertising) to showcase and promote their products, services, or skills. With varying degrees of personal and business livelihood at stake, should the social media pause button be pressed to allow subscribers, followers, connections, etc time to process what’s going on? Well, it depends.
Large corporations like Lego and Walmart can afford to pump the brakes on paid marketing efforts that funnel consumers to a particular product. For the freelancer, mid level employee trying to build a brand, and everyone in between, this might just be the quiet time they need to take advantage of in a sea of noise order to survive. That’s what we’re ALL trying to do these days right?
Read The Room
So how do you determine who’s eligible to keep promoting themselves and who should stop? And if they aren’t promoting what should they be posting?
That depends entirely on you, your audience, and how you want to show up. Me for example as a brand might post regular pieces of content that point to articles I’ve written, podcasts I’ve been on, or some accomplishment I’ve made in the space and industry. I also post frequently about my products and services. As the person my brand represents, I also tackle topics that might be unpopular, difficult, or somewhat taboo to stir up conversation for educational exchanges. Since my audience mostly knows this about me, it won’t appear tone deaf for me to share a post demonstrating a vulnerability, frustration, or anger as a result of the worlds events ESPECIALLY in how they affect me as a Black man.
Do I feel the need to make a statement every time an event in world news occurs to demonstrate solidarity or outrage? Absolutely not. I also believe my audience knows that if I do make a statement, that it’s authentic. If I go on to post about my skills, products, and services in the middle of the many “thoughts and prayers” tweets that flood my timeline, I don’t believe it to be insensitive or inappropriate.
The Dog And Pony Show
On the other hand, companies go out of their way to make statements to build social capital, social confidence, and manage any reputational risk that comes with not making a statement. This then trickles down from the C suite to senior leadership, from senior leadership to middle management, and from middle management to front line workers who now feel like they need to echo, praise, or regurgitate the phrasing of some highly vetted (hopefully) statement coming from whoever sits in the position over DE&I (and likely marketing and branding heads).
As black and white as the tragedy of loss should be, some are artful in the way they play devil’s advocate to discuss or justify issues that are peripherally related but different topics altogether.
I’ve been in these social media streets for quite a while and I’ve witnessed enough to know that some people thrive on the engagement of topics they themselves may not even feel strongly about but yay likes, comments, and shares.
My grandfather used to say “don’t pay me any lip service, show me with action”.
So the question should be, how are your promotions, products, or services geared towards helping a grieving audience? Don’t all answer at once now.
Authenticy is a super power
To answer the above, post what you normally post. Don’t get fancy and definitely don’t be fake. It’s ok to acknowledge that people are hurting, that you are hurting, that everyone is not ok right now. It’s also ok to get to back to business as promptly as you feel ready to. What’s not ok is capitalizing on someone else’s pain, trauma, or vulnerability to make a quick buck. If you can’t tell the difference between the two, then you have bigger problems than figuring out what to post.