How to Commemorate a Tragedy on Social Media

Sep 2017
Photo Courtesy: @samuelcage

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram didn’t exist 16 years ago.  But the events that transpired on September 11th, 2001 are remembered every year through images from those who reflect that fateful day nationwide.

Observing tragedies via social media is important and even more so, important to observe in the right way.  It would look insensitive to completely avoid the anniversary of a tragedy.   It’s important to keep in mind that posting something cheerful or completely unrelated could distance your audience.  

Here are a few things to consider when posting about a tragedy online.



Don’t use the event to sell

Photo Courtesy: @online_sean


Last September, a Wal-Mart store used the anniversary of 9/11 to create a display of coca cola products in their store.   The store got an influx of backlash almost immediately.

For a business to reflect on a national tragedy, they must separate themselves from selling their product. Creating a display of products that is meant to represent a day when thousands of people were lost is not only tacky, but wildly inappropriate.

If you’re planning on posting to social to commemorate 9/11, make it genuine and don’t try to relate it to your product.  Take that opportunity to step away from the business and post with the sole purpose of reflection and respect.  




Create a sense of community

Utilizing things like hashtags on Twitter or Instagram and tagging through Facebook creates a sense of community on social media.  By using trending social tags, you’ll join the community in remembrance.  Don’t overdo the hashtags or tagging, remember that social media is available to the masses; it’s not easy to please everyone.  In a sensitive situation, you’ll want to avoid doing anything in excess that could upset any group or individual.  


Be Sensitive and Keep it simple

Use simple copy and an appropriate image.  Don’t avoid the subject or be overly flowery in your copy.  Be simple and genuine to your voice. Express compassion and definitely avoid any polarizing language or stances on the topic.   Getting political online is never a great idea for a business, but this is especially detrimental during a tragedy or remembrance of a tragedy.  

When commemorating a tragic event like 9/11, it’s important to be aware of what your audience is doing and what they’re focusing on.   Be simple and be genuine.

For more tips on social best practices, see our blog!



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