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‘This Storm Blows!’: When Do Tweets Help or Hurt Your Business?

Social Media Tip #1: Tap into newsy trends!

Social Media Tip #2: Don’t always tap into newsy trends!

Conflicting information? You bet.

Sometimes, it’s perfectly appropriate to tweet or blog about trends or news-related events. As the leaves fall and the cool weather moves in, for example, it’s a good idea to shift blog or tweeting topics from outdoor entertaining and summer fun to holiday decor and cozy, indoor dining.

Sometimes, it’s perfectly inappropriate to tweet or blog about trends or news-related events, however. This tweet from hipster apparel retailer Urban Outfitters, issued immediately after Hurricane Sandy blasted the East Coast, has caused a bit of a ruckus on the Internet this week:

@UrbanOutfitters

This storm blows (but free shipping doesn’t)! Today only… bit.ly/S8fADV #frankenstorm #ALLSOGGY

Want to hear even more conflicting information? What some consider to be absolutely outrageous, others find to be quite alright.

One commenter of Atlantic Wire’s story (http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/10/worst-social-media-fails-hurricane-sandy/58515/) on Hurricane Sandy-related social media mishaps said he received two e-mails immediately following the storm: one from a trusted business partner and another from a major bank, offering needs-based payment term modifications and other assistance to those in areas affected by Sandy. “I viewed both of these emails as entirely positive,” he wrote.

Likewise, Sears took heat–and simultaneously was praised–for tweeting about its availability of generators and other emergency supplies.

So for those of you who design, renovate or sell building products, are you taking advantage of a disaster–or simply being a good resource to people in need–if you tweet, post, pin or blog about your services and offerings? Here are a few ideas:

  • Tweet heartfelt concern about those in need without pushing whatever you offer. It keeps your name out there in a kind, understated way.
  • Share tips or helpful ideas, e.g. blog about when to save or toss a soggy item, as opposed to promoting replacement products or your kitchen renovation services.
  • Be careful about promotions. Pushing a “Disaster Deal!” is a no-no; a gentle mention on your website about how you’re willing to work alongside those in need is a better idea.

The bottom line: If you’re not sure whether you should say something, then don’t. You’re better off safe than sorry.

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