By: Kalyn Schieffer
Many people take the long Memorial Day weekend to unwind with friends and family, and for some people that means unplugging from their digital devices and social media profiles. However, not everyone takes a break from their news feeds and posting. Like with many other holidays, brands try to take advantage by posting ads or updates related to the occasion. In recent years, there has been controversy on the web as to whether brands should refrain from posting on national military holidays including Memorial Day.
It’s no secret that the majority of the American public respects those who serve and have served in the armed forces. This respect carries over to brands who show support for the troops and veterans as well. Over half of the respondents to a survey conducted by the Bob Woodruff Foundation agreed that they support “brands that support veterans.” Several major brands are frequently recognized for supporting the armed forces including Home Depot, USAA and Walmart. Their activity on social media platforms has certainly helped companies show their support on holidays such as Memorial Day.
Looking around at the variety of posts surrounding the holiday, companies chose to either promote products around the family, friends, backyard barbeque aspect of Memorial Day, or show their respect to those who have served our country. Many bloggers and social media analysts believe that companies should refrain from any promotional posts in order to avoid disrespecting the meaning of the holiday and any online backlash that could follow. Advertisements and posts that focused on honoring and commemorating the troops garnered much more positive feedback from users. A post with a simple message thanking the men and women who serve our country without any promotional messaging is what brands such as Kay Jewelers and the University of Phoenix have done in the past.
Many brands have also opted to create posts that encourage followers to give back or get involved with organizations that benefit the troops. This Memorial Day, The Wounded Warrior Project
shared a post on Facebook that asked followers to honor veterans by donating, accompanied by a photo of an injured veteran. Petco has also posted photos of injured canine heroes
with a link to vote for the Hero Dog Awards. These posts and others similar to them show that these brands realize that for many Americans, Memorial Day stands for much more than a summer kick-off party. If a company can’t find a way to genuinely show their support without inserting promotional content in a post, the best policy may just be to log off and take a social media moment of silence.
Brands with an obvious military connection such as the National Guard have provided some of the most genuine and meaningful tributes on social media during this holiday. Other brands and have showed their support simply by sharing the content posted by the US Navy, Army, Marines and many others. This Memorial Day, the National Guard changed up their commemorative post by creating a Vine with a 360 degree view of a soldier standing in various historical spots such as the Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Vine managed to show respect and commemorate fallen heroes and gain attention all in five seconds. By finding new ways to use social media in a respectful way, companies and brands can collect positive feedback.
Memorial Day may be seen and celebrated differently by different people but showing respect should be a given. The way that brands both big and small choose to celebrate the holiday online can have a significant impact on their public image. Some companies will create new ways to bring attention to organizations and veterans in need while others will simply thank our military for everything they have sacrificed.