Navigating Your Brand’s Presence on Social Media During the 9/11 Anniversary

Navigating Your Brand’s Presence on Social Media During the 9/11 Anniversary

The 22nd anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks is approaching, and as it does every year, it raises a critical question for brands: should you post about it on social media? In this article, we’ll explore the delicate considerations surrounding this issue and provide guidelines to help you make an informed decision.

The Ongoing Significance of 9/11

Despite the passage of time, 9/11 remains an event that stirs deep emotions. It’s a day etched in the memories not only of those who directly experienced its horrors but also of countless others who watched the events unfold on live television. The United States carries profound emotional scars from that fateful day, which led to the nation’s involvement in a long-lasting war with far-reaching consequences.

For brands, deciding whether to address 9/11 publicly requires careful deliberation. Mishandling this solemn commemoration can result in anger, scorn, and public backlash. To avoid these pitfalls, let’s learn from past mistakes and help you assess whether your brand should publicly remember 9/11 or opt for a more contemplative approach.

Guidelines for Brands: How to Approach 9/11 on Social Media

1. Avoid Commercial Exploitation

One of the most significant missteps brands can make is trying to commercialize 9/11. It’s essential to resist the urge to make your brand a part of the narrative. While some brands are inextricably linked to the events (more on this later), using 9/11 to promote a product or sale is highly inappropriate and often met with strong public backlash. Remember the examples of AT&T inserting their phone into an image of the Tribute in Light art installation and a yoga studio’s ill-conceived 20% discount tweet. Both instances resulted in deleted messages and apologies.

Even subtler branding approaches, such as incorporating logos or brand colors into tribute messages, have faced criticism. CVS and clothing brand Pretty Little Thing learned this the hard way.

2. Some Brands Must Speak

Certain organizations have profound connections to 9/11, making it imperative for them to address the anniversary. For instance, financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald lost the majority of its New York workforce when its offices were in the North Tower. Today, the company honors the day by making substantial donations to disaster relief charities. Similarly, American Airlines and United Airlines had their planes turned into weapons, leading to the loss of employees and customers. In 2021, United Airlines unveiled a memorial garden for their crew members who perished. Such responses are solemn and appropriate for companies forever marked by 9/11.

3. It’s Okay to Stay Silent

Not every brand needs to speak out about 9/11. If your brand primarily appeals to Generation Z, a generation that may not have even been born when 9/11 occurred, and you have no employees affected by the attacks, there’s little to gain from making a statement and much to lose. The event may lack personal meaning to your audience, and it may not significantly impact your business operations. Remaining silent on this occasion is a valid choice. Remember, few will notice if you stay quiet, but many will notice if you mishandle the commemoration.

4. Making a Thoughtful Statement

If you determine that making a public commemoration of 9/11 is appropriate because it directly affects your audience or business (e.g., American Millennials and older, particularly those in New York, Washington, D.C., or Pennsylvania, or businesses located in the attack sites), here are some guidelines:

  • No Branding: Avoid any branding elements in your message.
  • No Sales Tie-Ins: Ensure there is no connection to sales or promotions.
  • Keep It Simple: Use minimal text in your message.
  • Appropriate Imagery: Avoid depicting the actual attacks; instead, use imagery of memorials, American flags, or other symbols of remembrance.
  • One Post Is Enough: A single, thoughtful post suffices to commemorate the day.

In conclusion, 9/11 is a day of remembrance for the lives lost, a day when nearly 3,000 ordinary Americans tragically perished while millions watched in shock and sorrow. It is not a day for profiteering or brand-building. Approach this day with kindness, empathy, and careful consideration, and remember that sometimes, silence can be the most respectful response of all.

Published byMax B
Max B is a seasoned investigative journalist with over 10 years of experience uncovering the truth behind some of the world's most complex and controversial stories. With a keen eye for detail and a relentless pursuit of justice, Max is dedicated to bringing the world's greatest stories to life and shining a light on the injustices that threaten our society.

Max is not one to shy away from a challenge. Whether it's exposing corruption, shining a light on human rights violations, or uncovering the truth behind a major controversy, Max is always at the forefront, fighting for what is right, no matter the cost. His unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth has earned him a reputation as one of the most fearless and respected investigators in the industry.

As the Investigations Editor at, Max is focused on delivering the latest and greatest stories to our readers. From in-depth investigations to explosive controversies, Max brings a wealth of experience and expertise to our team, and his work is shaping the future of investigative journalism.

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