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Responding to Tragedy

By April 15, 20132 min read

As was the case with Newtown, the world paused today as the Boston Marathon was finishing. We were struck with another national tragedy after two bombs detonated by the finish line. Moments like these are tough for people to understand. For brands online, thinking up a response can often be more confusing. There are a few things to note.

1. The world is fixated on news associated to any major event, tragedy or not. Stop scheduled posts that promote products. Nobody cares about your product at this moment. Promoting products can only lead to brand disasters.

2. Brands need to show empathy. Your followers are emotional, everyone is emotional. It’s important brands are empathetic towards the day’s events. Going silent is one of the worst of things brands can do on social media. However, it is equally bad for brands to post basic T&P’s. These generic stone-hearted messages can be a turnoff to your community.

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” ~ Meryl Streep

3. Banks should find a real charity to get behind. Community banking is about community, but today’s community covers much larger geography. Banks should find and support local Boston charities. However, banks need to be careful of the charities they support online because many parody/fraud accounts will pop up like the one below.

Your bank may not be directly affected by a national tragedy but it important to show sympathy for those affected. Social media is valuable because of the tight knit community it can create. It’s important to note that we are all in this together and anything said digitally can affect someone for better or worse. The best advice is to be human.


Ben Pankonin is the founder and CEO of Social Assurance, a software-solutions company that serves over 1,500 financial service providers across the country with marketing sales and community impact solutions.