Why Memorial Day May Not Make Sense For Your Brand

Being pithy and current event relevant isn't always the right move

by Jason Falls |

There’s a fair chance most company blogs, social posts and other communications today will be focused on tipping a cap to the men and women who have served the U.S. in the armed forces, making the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Memorial Day is not, as some like to think, the holiday that marks the first week the pool is open. It’s a tribute to those who have sacrificed for our American freedom.

But while it behooves us all to pay tribute to those who have died for our country, is memorializing lost veterans smart for your brand? The answer is, “Not always.”

Being timely and relevant with your marketing messages does dictate that you connect what’s going on in your audience’s world with your engagement. Capitalizing on current events, ala Oreo or NASA, is an awesome way to participate in the greater conversation and stay top of mind with your audiences. But it can also be hurtful to your brand if the communications don’t resonate.

The more solemn the occasion, the more difficult it is for brands to maintain resonance and relevance.

American Flag Sticker - CafePress.comDiving into the more reverent holidays, or even current events like the Oklahoma tornados, Boston Marathon bombings or some political issues can put your brand squarely in the cross-hairs of consumer angst. To be seen as taking advantage of such events to promote or market your brand is a no-win situation, regardless of your intent.

Sure, you could very easily find someone in your company who lost a relative in combat or service to our country and profile that hero in your Memorial Day post. That’s an easy and probably relevant way to connect the holiday to your brand in a way that is relevant to your audience. But you might also find that the best thing to do it simply not do anything at all.

There’s a pretty good chance no one is sitting at their computer today anxiously awaiting what you’ll post on Facebook. If there are, congratulations! You’ve broken the code for brands. But in all likelihood, you can wait until tomorrow and get back to your normal programming.

Being pithy and current, relevant and resonant is important, but hard. It’s hard because knowing where to draw the line and how far over it is too far, isn’t something that comes with instructions. Tipping your corporate cap to the veterans who have served us probably isn’t going to go wrong for you today. But ask yourself this question:

Can I do so in a relevant, respectful way that stands out and even inspires my audience to do the same?

If the answer is, “No,” then I would suggest you’re better off focusing on what you can post tomorrow to reengage your audience as they return to work.

Memorial Day is a perfect opportunity for me to share a sappy story about my Grandfather and how his long and fruitful life was marred with pain as a result of World War II. I could get all sentimental about him and really tug at people’s heart strings. But is that going to drive more business for Social Media Explorer? Is that going to put more butts in the seats at our events this summer? No.

Writing a post that helps you with your digital marketing, content strategies and dealing with the questions that even a holiday can pose for them just might, however.

See what I did there?

Make sure your content, especially that which is connecting your brand to an event, holiday or activity that requires a fair amount of solemnity and respect, is ultimately relevant to your audience and totally delivers on the promise you’ve made to them. If you do that, you probably won’t go wrong.

Note: American Flag sticker available from Daniele C., a designer at CafePress. I work there.

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).