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News & Views

Brands need to know when not to tweet

Sometimes the best way to avoid a brand disaster is to simply do nothing.
This week, president-elect Donald Trump held the most controversial press conference maybe ever, in which the press were actively blocked from asking certain questions. This came hot on the heels of an eventful couple of days for Trump, and so my Twitter feed consisted of wall-to-wall presser coverage and reactions.

Imagine how jarring it was, then, to have this political stream of consciousness interrupted by a sponsored post about protein powder.

Without even getting into why I was being targeted with an ad for a product that is in no way connected to my interests, the sight of this tweet irked me. Not necessarily because it was an ad; they’re everywhere, after all. It was more that this tweet was taking up valuable space on my feed at such a specific moment that even if it had been for a product relevant to my consumer profile, I still wouldn’t have had the time or inclination to give it my attention.

There have been some egregious instances of this clueless content in the last six months, during moments when the world has been united in watching one singular event unfold, most notably the EU Referendum and the US presidential election. At times like these, anything remotely off-topic on a user’s timeline is seen as irrelevant at best, and is simply ignored, or genuinely irritating at worst, and potentially blocked.

Brands and agencies are getting good when it comes to crafting social calendars around big events like the Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day. But it’s just as important to know when not to post content, to recognise the right context. Will your presence be appreciated if you pop up with a scheduled post? Will the engagement you get on this post be worth the capital you put behind it, or will it wither away in its irrelevance?

Simply put; read the room.

Sending your own messaging out into the world when everybody else is talking about something else, something arguably more important, makes you look both ignorant and arrogant. What you’re essentially saying is that you don’t know what is going on with consumers, and that what you have to say is more important than listening to them.

Of course, it’s impossible to always tell when these charged moments will occur. But an understanding of your audience, and what matters most to them, is a good first step.

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