On every September 11th since 2002 I’ve said to myself, “I can’t believe it’s been X years already.” I’m sure I’m not alone. For most Americans aged say, 25 and up (especially those who were living in the Northeast at the time), the memories remain as clear as the New York weather was on that fateful day 13 years ago.
My alma mater, The University of Delaware, pulls its student body heavily from both the New York City and Washington DC metro areas so for me, those memories include walking, somewhat dazed, to my 11am marketing class and seeing everyone talking, on their phones, and to each other, about the exact same thing. It was surreal.
But you know what absolutely no one was doing that day? Writing tweets! By the way, social media did not come up in my marketing class, and not just because the professor sent us home. We were still a good five years away from the Twitter revolution and social media as we know it was in its infancy. Maybe even its embryonic stage? Zygotic stage? Ah, Twitter, I remember when you were just a zygote. A gleam in Jack Dorsey’s eye.
Oh, how times have changed. Every September 11th, our friends post their memories and tributes. This is good. And of course, brands do the same. This is often, not good. Our friends at Adweek dot com have rounded up some of the best and worst of the day. Some who commented on the article, and this guy, are of the opinion that there are no “bests,” that any attempt to use the anniversary as a marketing opportunity is callous and insensitive. “Just take the day off.” It’s a difficult point to argue against. Are tweets from brands automatically considered marketing attempts? Even if the answer is yes, I think it can be done properly. The Delta Airlines tweet in the article is good example. I think any tribute from a US airline is sincere by default. What about this one by American Airlines, which lost people that day?
Brands aren’t people, but social media managers are. My message to them: Use your heads and show respect; on 9/11 and the other 364 days of the year.