To share or not to share: the perils of reactive social for brands

It’s only human to want to share our experiences. And with instant photos, real-time recording and unlimited reach at our fingertips, the desire to share is greater still. Made all the stronger by a global pandemic that prohibited real-life contact with so many of our nearest and dearest. Overnight, virtual connections became a lifeline. It’s hardly surprising then, that posting our reactions to global events and current affairs and how we make sense of them on social media has become the norm. But should it be the norm for brands too? 

The death of Her Majesty the Queen this month dominated the headlines at home and abroad, with millions of tributes pouring in from every corner of the world. Companies and brands were no exception – keen to express their sorrow, their gratitude, pay their respects and mark a moment in history. But some of them seemed to get it so wrong (Brands Post a Flood of Bizarre Tributes to Queen Elizabeth II ( 

Before responding as a brand to global events and social issues on social media, it’s worth running the idea through a few filters first: 

  • What would your customers expect? 

Staying silent on social media can feel odd, especially when everyone else seems to be saying something. But it doesn’t mean you don’t care, and if there’s no direct link between your offering and the global event, saying nothing is perfectly acceptable. It’s not compulsory to join every social media conversation.  

  • What can you add? Are you qualified? 

When it comes to reactive social, it’s worth considering whether your brand has the authority to join the conversation – and whether there’s more to lose than to gain by joining it. If you’re not 100% sure, it’s usually safer to leave. After all, if you can’t add anything meaningful or relevant, do you need to say anything at all? Or might it come across as a token gesture? 

  • Timing is everything 

If you conclude you need to say something, timing is key. It’s tempting to try to be first on social media, but acting too soon can be perceived as insensitive, while taking too long can come across as indecisive, so tread carefully. 

Timing of other posts is also important following a global tragedy or crisis – watch out for those pre-drafted scheduled posts, and be sure to sense-check everything due to be issued or posted that day. 

  • Avoid selling 

We all love a bit of brand publicity, but exploiting global events and social issues to raise your profile isn’t a good look, so beware of posting only to be seen to have a response. 

  • Think brand personality 

Does your brand really care? Does posting sit well with your brand personality? Would keeping quiet – perhaps a period of dignified silence – ultimately say more, or better align with your brand values? 

  • Consider alternatives 

Maybe a gesture would have greater impact. In the case of the late Queen, Fortnum & Mason, which has held a Royal Warrant from the Queen since 1954, lowered its flag to half-mast, stopped the clock on the façade of its flagship store in London’s Piccadilly, and blacked out its famous window displays. 

  • Exercise caution 

If in doubt, it’s probably better not to post. A cautious silence probably won’t trigger a backlash, but getting it wrong certainly could. 

Instinct welcomes new staff

Instinct has appointed two new staff following a re-branding exercise earlier this year. Joining Managing Director, Debbie Rennie, are established copywriter, Sally Wallis, and tourism and marketing graduate from RGU, Cara O’Brien. The appointments reflect a busy period of growth for the company.

“I’m delighted to be welcoming Cara and Sally to the team at such an exciting time,” says Managing Director, Debbie Rennie. “Our recent relocation and re-brand have helped to re-position us in an increasingly dynamic market, and with the addition of two new employees we’re well placed to cater for the demands of a wide and complex client base. With a background in corporate communication and copywriting, Sally brings a wealth of expertise across multiple sectors from energy to tourism, while Cara’s degree in Digital Marketing and recent academic experiences provide a great range of insights which will translate to added value for our clients.”

Previously a freelance copywriter, Sally joins Instinct as Marketing & Communications Executive, and is pleased to be part of a team again: “The freelance existence has its advantages, but I’m sociable by nature and had been on the look out for an opportunity with a small team for a while, so joining Instinct was an obvious choice.” Sally’s background in Science Communication stands her in good stead for technical clients, while her experience juggling clients across energy, tourism, conservation and construction, has equipped her with a broad understanding of multiple industries. “We’re fortunate to work with an interesting range of clients at Instinct, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them all as we help to raise their profiles at home and further afield.”

RGU graduate, Cara, comes fresh from the academic coalface, having achieved a 1st Class Honours degree in international tourism management in 2021, and now completing a Masters degree there in Digital Marketing, alongside her new role as Communications & Marketing Assistant at Instinct. “The Masters gave me a wide range of experiences – from working on creative projects for clients such as Greyhope Bay and Walter Gregor’s, to gaining the IDM Certificate in Digital and Data Driven Marketing. My dissertation looks at how brands use female-targeted advertising to impact consumer purchasing decisions,” she explains. “The learning continues in my new role at Instinct, where I’ve been creating content for social media, filming with clients for PR stories, and brainstorming ideas with the team for future projects. I’m looking forward to improving my knowledge and skills within the industry, creating high quality work for clients and improving my confidence by occasionally stepping outside my comfort zone!”

Debbie added: “It’s fantastic to be growing the team with such a range of backgrounds and experiences. Cara and Sally add a great combination of skills to the mix, giving us a robust platform for collaboration and growth, and we look forward to building on our continued success in delivering marketing and communications services to our diverse client base.”