With Hurricane Sandy creating fear in many Americans and wreaking havoc on much of the East Coast, businesses and online marketers are doing their best to jump in on the action. However, if efforts are thinly veiled and appear to be used simply as a means to get page hits and site clicks, the content may do more harm than good for a company's online marketing strategy.
It may be tempting to try and capitalize on events like Hurricane Sandy, especially because it is the hottest topic online now – 10 hurricane-related Instagram photos are posted every 10 seconds and all the top terms on Facebook are somehow tied to the natural disaster, according to Mashable – but it may be damaging to a business' reputation and anger current and potential clients.
There are several instances when posting about current events like natural disasters or political unrest are helpful, but special care must be taken to ensure the content is not viewed as an attention-getting ploy – it wasn't long ago that fashion designer Kenneth Cole was boycotted for trying to benefit by tweeting about the Egyptian protests to promote his latest collection.
Take, for instance, the recent social media outcry against companies that sent "Hurricane Sandy Sale" marketing blasts and stacked web and blog content with weather-related keywords that had little to do with the company's purpose or current marketing campaigns. These companies are at risk of losing clients and can cause severe damage to the credibility of their brands.