A Few Things to Remember about Memorial Day Posts
Memorial Day is a time to honor those who gave their lives in service to our country. The day after Memorial Day is a great time to remind marketers that 1) Holidays do not automatically mean you need to do a holiday post; and 2) That if you do Memorial Day posts, try not to be tone-deaf when you do them.
The best example of the latter was Ivanka Trump’s Memorial Day tweets that have the internet doing what the internet does best: being outraged.
In case you missed it, here they are:
OK, remember this is the Twitter feed of Ivanka Trump’s brand, not Trump herself, so put politics aside. The feed apparently shoots for “inspiring and empowering women to create the lives they want to live,” by – you know – making Champagne popsicles and whatnot.
Sure, Memorial Day is the start of summer, a day off, and a day for parades and barbecues, but the main purpose of the day is to remember our war dead, which is a pretty somber thing. “Turn the music up – it’s a three-day weekend” and “What are your MDW plans? Consider these fun ideas,” don’t exactly embrace the spirit of the day. BTW: if you click on the latter, here’s what you get for ideas, none of which suggest remembering our dead soldiers:
Let’s face it: Memorial Day has become something less than it was intended to be. However, I submit that perhaps tone-deaf social media posts like these are not helping. And I don’t want to be a total downer by suggesting that if you’re going to promote your brand on the tails of Memorial Day, you might want to make a passing reference – somewhere – to the real purpose of the day.
That’s the general consensus of the Twitter-verse, which found the tweets to be, well, a bit insensitive. Here’s just a sample of the more than 6,000 comments and replies to the three posts:
I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating: Sometimes it’s best just to leave well enough alone when it comes to holidays and observances. Suggest Champagne popsicles on the following weekend – there’s no reason they have to be associated with Memorial Day. Or, if you have to post, at least acknowledge the significance of the holiday, if appropriate. Obviously the Fourth of July is a celebration and a fine target for fun, but Veterans Day is not. It’s all in the context.
And Ivanka, know that you’re not alone: Major League Baseball drew some criticism for its Memorial Day/hat sales tweet, although in fairness, according to the New York Post, MLB said the proceeds from the hats go toward MLB Charities, which support programs for military veterans and their families. And even though we’re Red Sox fans, we’re really not singling out the Yankees. Really. This post went out on all of the MLB team feeds:
Rapper Wiz Khalifa also had a Twitter #fail that drew some attention:
Although he did follow up with a sort of apology:
Memorial Day Wins
So, in the spirit of focusing on the good rather than the bad, let’s take a look at some of the celebrity and brand #wins for Memorial Day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram:
Nicely done CVS.
Stay classy, Temple!
The Chicago Cubs tweeted about the MLB hat, but the team also posted this lovely tweet:
Rapper, actor, and producer Common took to Instagram and paid his respects:
And finally, this, people, is the way to do Memorial Day:
The Facebook video even got a shout out from Mark Wahlberg, among others:
I think we can all take a page from Budweiser’s playbook.
Memorial Day Post Tips
A few things to remember about newsjacking a holiday:
- Posting about summer fun, barbecues and the like may work for some brands, but if you take that path, beware of the potential pitfalls you’re sure to encounter. This is what the USDA Food Safety did this year:
It stays true to brand and addresses a Memorial Day issue. Does it work? Is it any different than Ivanka Trump’s brand tweet? What do you think?
- Acknowledge the significance of the holiday, but don’t be too much of a downer.
- Show respect, and don’t directly promote your brand.
- Consider not posting at all. To paraphrase my mom, if you don’t have something right to say, don’t say anything at all. No one is going to complain that you didn’t post on Memorial Day (at least in most cases).
- Know your audience. If you’re a funeral home, you might not want to take the lighter side; if you’re an edgy, fun brand, you may not be able to pull off somber.
As in all things social media, just use common sense. If you do, you can’t go wrong.