The EPIC Creative Blog

the Social Sensitivity Scale

Written by Scott Covelli, 5 years ago, 0 Comments

In social media, brands work hard to find what’s relevant to their fans and try to reach them on a personal level. It’s not just about selling; it’s about connecting. The low hanging fruits on the “relevance” tree are holidays and remembrances. Everyone talks about them, so brands want to get in on the conversation.

But here’s the problem: Some brands pick that low-hanging fruit and then choke on it. They commit crucial mistakes that make a whole lot of people angry and damage the brand. And at the very least, capitalizing on holidays in the social space can sometimes look tacky or boring.

At EPIC, we’re tired of seeing brands trip up, so we’re introducing a new series, titled “The Social Sensitivity Scale.” We’ll put up a new blog post before each major holiday or national anniversary, rating that event on a danger scale of 1-5. 1 means there’s no danger at all, and a 5 means stay quiet and don’t touch it with a 10-foot pole.

Before we begin this series, we’d like to pose a few questions that social media managers should ask themselves when deciding whether or not to post about current events or holidays. To clarify, brands shouldn’t stay away from all current events. Quite the opposite, actually. Being timely can lead to very engaging content (just ask Oreo), but you have to be careful and pick your spots.

How consistent is this with my brand voice?

Cinco de Mayo may be a fun day full of sombreros and margaritas, but if you’re a buttoned-up brand who makes manufacturing equipment, posting about Cinco de Mayo may come across as either desperate or confusing. This isn’t where people get offended, but confusing your fans isn’t ideal either. Posts should always fit the brand’s voice. Don’t try to stretch.

How relevant is this to my customers/fans?

Similar to the first question, be sure to consider who’s going to see the message. Some holidays may strongly affect them, and some might not be holidays at all. If your fans are golf course superintendents, a post about how great it is to be with family on the 4th of July might fall flat, considering they’re all likely working on that day.

On the other side, if your demographics skew to a specific gender or age, you can make the most of that by knowing what holidays are important to them. For example, if your fan base skews older and male, Father’s Day may mean more to them since many of them are fathers.

Would I be cheapening a holiday or anniversary?

This is the big one. The last thing a brand wants to do is to mess around with a very important holiday, turn it into a shameless marketing ploy, and offend a lot of people. It’s obviously OK to sell your products, but be careful with how you do it. Use extreme caution on religious holidays or national remembrances. You may argue that “everyone gets offended these days”, and you might be right, but that’s the world we live in. By all means, pick your spots to be bold, but September 11 is not one of those spots.

How can I be creative instead of adding to the noise?

After you’ve decided to post, feel free to be creative. This year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, all kinds of brands hopped on the lazy bandwagon and posted quotes from Dr. King, but Crayola did this, setting itself apart from the pack with a simple photo. There is a lot of noise in social media, so do your best to stand out.

Above all else, when in doubt, do not post anything! AdWeek never lambasted a brand for what they didn’t post on their social media channel. It’s good to take risks in this business, but as with most tactics, consider how it will affect the brand. If it’s not a part of your conversation, keep quiet.


See below for blog posts on the “Social Sensitive Scale” series covering every major holiday!

Sensitivity Scale: Valentine’s Day   St. Patrick’s Day   Easter   Memorial Day   Independence Day   9/11   Halloween 

Scott Covelli

About Scott Covelli

PR Supervisor and Chicago sports fan who loves a long run, a clever pun, and having a lot of fun.