b2b marketing


The death of an icon – avoid social media pitfalls.

Posted by: Thomas Harrison-Lord on 26 April 2016

The passing away of an icon is a very sad time indeed. Let’s be honest, there has been no letup in 2016 with the tragic loss of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood and Prince to name but a few.

Many people hold these creative stars close to their hearts. They were fans of their work and part of popular culture. Admired by many, marketers will often use such celebrities as a hook for their content. By that I mean, writing and posting an article or image that ties into the recently deceased.

In the world we live in, articles will receive more visitors during a time when a celebrity death is in the news, as tragic as it seems. Sadly, when a person in the public eye passes away, there are clicks to be made.

Which leads us on the Beeston’s Law, a wonderful little Tumblr blog that updates every time a tasteless click bait article goes live about the deceased. Based primarily around content from LinkedIn, you can browse it here. (Editor’s note: perhaps we’ll make it on there with this article…)

The blog’s tagline says it all. “However tasteless or tenuous, a LinkedIn blog will be published linking a current event to marketing or branding.” Oh, and how true it is too!

A current highlight is an article entitled “David Bowie: The great innovator. Should business follow his example?”. Or how about “5 ways David Bowie can inspire your career”. This means that we are now sat waiting for a Prince article deluge.

The tragic early passing of musical legend Prince witnessed #RIPPrince trending on Twitter. Not unusual in itself, with tributes flocking in from every corner of the globe. In moments like this, hashtags are a great way of finding the most meaningful of tributes.

But it also opens to door for brands to make mistakes. Take Homebase for instance. Their help account tweeted out the following:Homebase TweetThe tweet was quickly deleted and the brand apologised for the error. It is all too easy to get carried away with what is trending, what people in the office are talking about and personal emotions, to then tweet representing as a brand and cause a mixed message.

In the case of Homebase, we shall put down this as a misguided error, rather than an attempt to cash in on a trending topic. Or are we too optimistic? Regardless, here is our advice for brands who feel they must comment on the death of an icon.

If you do decide to tweet about a recently passed celebrity, or any sensitive issue that may be trending, make sure that it is a) relevant to your brand or brand values and b) the wording is apt. Remember, you must put aside your personal feelings and opinions and create something that is the voice of the company you are representing.

Homebase messed up on both these points. Unless they’ve moved into music and fashion… it’s been a while since I did any DIY.

So remember, take a lesson from #RIPPrince and be extra careful when it comes to social media marketing. Stay relevant and tasteful. After all, an article about how much Prince influenced packaging design may sound like a good idea, but it probably isn’t.

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