This is the sixth update in my Summer Lovin blog series!

summer lovin

click here for previous articles in the series


Today, I’d like to address something that’s been on my mind for some time: namely, that content marketing does not live in a vacuum, and you run the risk of damage to your brand if you pretend otherwise. This is a relatively new problem businesses are facing because content marketing, and the media you use to promote it, are such real-time platforms (or perceived as real-time – sometimes things are a bit delayed!)


It’s ALL about context.

Here’s a scenario that played out recently: a bomb went off at the Boston marathon. My twitter feed was filled with three things:

    – 1) news-related tweets about the bombing
    – 2) automated tweets from brands that seemed very out of touch
    – 3) lots and lots of people complaining about #2

I don’t really follow many brands on social media, mostly because they all seem out of touch anyway. And maybe I follow too many people “in the business,” but all of the complaints about the auto-tweets were almost more ingratiating than the auto-tweets causing all the fuss in the first place.

The problem here was a number of content marketing campaigns (in this case, tweets, but they mostly were links to a blog posts, white papers, etc) that were in a vacuum – totally out of touch with what was going on around it. You should know better.

But wait, it gets more complicated.

So, you’re think you are savvy to this stuff, you just “go dark” when something bad happens and post the typical “our thoughts and prayers are with…” text, right?. No: that isn’t always the right answer.

I have just been in a rather lengthy discussion with a few others about what’s appropriate to say when there’s a disaster or otherwise bad external situation going on. Half the group found the “thoughts and prayers” comment awkward and off-color. The other half debated vigorously when it’s appropriate to even say anything, prayers or otherwise.

But what if your problem is internal? As I type, one of our software vendors has “upgraded” our software and yet many customers are experiencing major difficulties and data loss. As you can imagine, their blog posts and tweets and emails about “you’ve been upgraded” are not winning them any favors. But should they be silent? No – in this case, there are so many customers with serious problems they should be talking about resolutions, not upgrades.

Seriously, people – just pay attention.

The problem with this stuff is that, as I said above, it’s complicated and contextual. There is no “right” answer and it depends on the type of situation, how close you are to the situation, etc. Nobody is asking the cupcake shop to close every time something bad happens, and if you published a blog post on the day of a hurricane there’s no need to un-publish, just tone down your promo efforts a little. Everyone can wait a day or two to see your pretty new inforgraphic – there’s no rush.

All you need to do is pay attention. Whomever is managing your content efforts – including social media, email newsletters, etc. – needs to follow breaking news. It may sound like overkill, but in today’s business climate, it’s an absolute necessity for being “in touch” online. (If you’re a solo business owner or short handed, please, at least monitor what you are publishing every hour or two during the workday. You should be doing so anyhow.)

NO-HOLDS-BARRED BOTTOM LINE: When you aren’t sure what to say or what to do, say and do nothing. Nobody will remember that time that you didn’t say you would “think of them in your prayers,” but they’ll all remember when you were a total jerk in their time of need.


Leave a comment on any of the summer lovin’ series articles and get a free 45 minute brainstorming session with any consulting packages you book during the month of May. Click here to learn more about what I do and get the conversation started.