New sensibilities and considerations following the tragedy in Paris

French flagIt’s really hard to write a blog about marketing and storytelling this week when the world has been rocked and shocked by the events that took place just a few days ago in Paris. The terrorist attacks that devastated lives, families, friends and businesses were unimaginable in our western society. Yet this is becoming all too familiar across the world and as the events unfold before our eyes and our outrage and sadness spills onto our pages of social media we must continue to respect each other and never let these extremists destroy our freedoms.

If we have any kind of message this week it is this; we have the freedom to speak, communicate and have opinions. And we have platforms to share like never before in history. We can interact instantly with others that we’ve never met and we can express our support to those that need it.

For example practically every friend I have on Facebook covered their profile picture with the French flag. In times of crises we often now turn to our social platforms like Facebook and Twitter for understanding and solidarity. We share our shock, sadness, grief and frustrations and we post and listen. The social conversations continue and we take solace from it.

However with this open platform comes responsibility. I was surprised to see adverts and marketing messages on my social platforms when the events in Paris were unfolding. Perhaps many of these had been pre-programmed marketing activities using scheduling tools or the messages were part of long running ad campaigns, but it’s important to note that our audience’s attentions have shifted and we must be mindful when they are not in the mood to be marketed to. We must understand the audiences that we reach and be sensitive to their moods, especially when a horrific turn of events takes place.

Posting marketing messages and trying to sell at people when their focus is on a tragedy shows a disconnect with the mood of your audience. If we learn a small marketing lesson out of this it’s to monitor events closely and make sure your social postings are relevant or pulled. Be prepared to make changes and react appropriately and don’t let poorly timed and pre-organised posts potentially upset your audience.

Our hearts go out to all those affected by the tragic events in Paris last week.