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Autotweets Are Not Comparable to TV or Radio Ads

There’s a debate over autotweets or scheduled tweets during times of tragedy

This post kicked it off: Guy Kawasaki is too ‘popular’ to stop autotweets during Boston bombings.

This post reinforced the point, with kinder language, but with words that bite: A Letter To Those Of You With 1,500 Twitter Followers Or Fewer.

And we’re off.  Knockdown.  Drag out.  Online scrap.  It’s not productive.

“While the news about the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon was just being broken, and for several hours afterward, most companies shut down their promotional efforts on Twitter and other social media.

Most people and organizations rightly came to the conclusion that to continue to hawk their wares while a national tragedy was unfolding (and people were using Twitter to get and exchange news) was a little insensitive, to say the least.”

Most brands stopped.

Then the counterpoints started.

This post was an intelligent argument: Auto Tweets and Tragedy which says pointedly:

“While I don’t agree with his response of ‘Loving how people with less than 1,500 followers are telling me how to tweet…’ I do agree that it is his choice to tweet what he likes. It’s his business.”

Another good post that makes a credible argument is this one, The Perfect Tweet, which points out there are dozens of crises every day around the world and life goes on.

Finally, a third one that jumped out at me was this one, posted on the soon to be defunct PosterousAutotweeting During A Crisis:

“The whole ‘suspend your social marketing during a crisis’ judgmentathon is a complicated mess.”

Agreed, no argument there. But the next point is this:

“Do we expect brands to be able, on a dime, to stop their TV ads? Radio spots? Print ads? Events?”

Maybe not.

But advertising has unlucky and unintentional failures every day.  Ads are coordinated well in advance and cannot be undone with the click of a mouse.  Social media is different because breaking news happens on Twitter and often long before the mainstream media starts reporting it.

The affected region immediately tunes into social media specifically to find the information they cannot get elsewhere. Don’t be that person that clutters up streams with promotions during a time of tragedy.

Corporate brands should tread carefully. Stay quiet. Observe. Listen. If you want to help, do it, but don’t brag about it.

If you keep up the promotion in a crisis, be prepared for criticism. Either way, it’s a distraction. Silence at least keeps people from disliking you later when the dust settles.

Be a role model. Be a leader.  Do the right thing.

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Imaged credit: Unsplash

Post updated 3/22/2020

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6 Responses

  1. margieclayman

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks for the shout. I really didn’t intend for my post to be a “call out.” If I had, I’d have mentioned Guy by name. My greater concern was how he responded to criticism, not the fact that he was autotweeting. 

    Great post!

    1. margieclayman I hear ya’ — hope folks read your post for themselves and see the context.  Love your posts…and you deserve far more recognition for you work!

  2. RossQuintana

    Yeah I don’t see the logic honestly of suspending your tweets. Anyone who is using Twitter can follow the tragedy hashtag. If they are following 3000 people I doubt they are getting nothing but personal Tweets about Boston. There are many ways to use Twitter and other tools without sifting through your feed. Also, as you pointed out people we don’t know die every day. When news was more local people would react to things in their town. Now with technology we hear about things that happen in tons of places. Should we all react to every situation in every city every day? I don’t think so. The world is full of tragedy.
    How about the women who are raped every few seconds, or the people dying of hunger daily, or those who are murdered? Children who are molested? Is one murder more tragic than another because it is advertised on TV. It isn’t logical. When someone in my family dies will people suspend their tweeting? Should I expect them to.. no. There are tragedies that are happening all over the world every day. Millions of children are murdered through abortion every year and people are OK with it. Policing others reactions is annoying and comes from a selfish self justified place many times. React to and deal with your feelings and let others do the same.

    1. RossQuintana You’re right Ross, it isn’t logical, it’s emotional. When something trends on the order of magnitude of a terrorist attacks — something by which our oceanic  borders have sheltered the majority of our population from for most of their lives — it spirals far beyond analysis.  Emotional intelligence is a phenomenon savvy marketers tune into. Or they can do as they like, pretend nothing is happening, and deal with the fall out.

      1. RossQuintana

        Frank_Strong RossQuintana I get it, I understand it is emotional. I think people need to put things into perspective. Expecting people to stop living and the complex world to all pause is not realistic. The world stopping on a dime and whether or not you are sorry for the loss of lives anywhere are two different things and to connect things that aren’t connected is just unrealistic. Even in times of war people continue to live their lives. Saying someone tweeted so therefore they don’t care or are a bad person makes no sense whatsoever it is simply and ignorant notion in my opinion.

        1. RossQuintana  In times like these, perspective only comes with time. The choice is to tweet or not — and we know the probable outcome of both. It’s an easy decision.

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