Every brand wants to capture consumer attention with messages that get shared around the world. Who doesn’t envy Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet or Arby’s latest Grammy’s shout out? But there is always a fine line between being “in the moment” and being appropriate…

Poor taste posts

Last week, I was reading an interview with the Director of Digital and Social Media for Arby’s.

While he was obviously quite pleased with the response to the aforementioned tweet, he stated in no uncertain terms that the brand is extremely careful about the content they distribute.

Furthermore, any real-time marketing has to be a natural fit with the brand and that they don’t try to force themselves into a conversation where it might not make sense.

So, let’s talk about some other brands that don’t heed this advice!

Each year on September 11th, brands feel the need to comment on the tragedy that occurred in 2001.

But is it really necessary?

Or is it, as in many of these cases, in bad taste?

Because I am not certain what White Castle has to do with the Twin Towers wrapped in an American Flag…

I mean, what would happen if these brands just didn’t post anything at all and remained silent in honor of the anniversary?

There are the posts that are poorly timed, like this one from the NRA shortly after a child killed a shooting range instructor with an Uzi.

And there are posts that are meant to be funny (like this one from Jason Biggs after the Malaysian airline crash) but that are just in extremely poor taste…

Of course, inappropriate messaging isn’t strictly limited to Twitter, as is evidenced by the unbelievable email sent to subscribers by Airportparkingreservations.com.

So, how can you protect your brand against bad social media exposure?

I hate to say it, but it’s usually as simple as using common sense.

First, ask yourself if the situation about which you are tweeting has any sensitivity around it. If so, you might want to avoid jumping into the discussion altogether.

If the topic is not sensitive, determine if there is a relevant association between the theme and your brand.

Often these messages will occur during big events with large viewerships. But, the message itself needs to be a natural fit. If forced, consumers will see right through it. For example, Pampers posting during an Oscars presentation might be a bit of a stretch, no matter how large the reach…

From there, brands just need to be selective about what and when they post.

Sometimes, less really is more and choosing wisely what to say can make all the difference in the world.

As always, tell us what you think in the comments below!