Soldier’s casket being pulled out of airplane is a reminder of what Memorial Day is all about

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As American citizens and residents gather for Memorial Day this year and really any year, it’s easy to forget what the day is all about: We are remembering the fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. That means they died! That’s hard to remember for many – including brands who keep tweeting on Memorial Day that they are remembering all our soldiers. Veterans Day is actually for them. Memorial Day is for those fallen in the line of duty.

What should brands do on social media on a holiday?

First of all, it’s important to know what a holiday is about (see above).

With holidays throughout the year, what should brands say on social media?

In general, brands should only be talking about the holidays when they have something to do with them.

Everyone getting on Facebook and posting “Happy Thanksgiving” gets old quickly and is a bit lazy. It’s just as bad as some brands posting “Happy Friday” on a Friday.

The best social posts have some substance to them and relate back to a strong social media strategy.

One example for a nonprofit might be:

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the day, save money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and we hope you support your community on Giving Tuesday.

They key is to share something unique to your organization that has something to do with the holiday. If there’s nothing you can share, it might just be better to remain quiet.

But, but, but our followers expect us to? Really? How do you know?

But my boss expects us to. See this post on bosses and audiences.

If you can be creative (and still appropriate) with a holiday that might work.

A few years ago, when I worked at a United Way as their VP of Communications and Innovation, the team came up with a 12 Days of Giving song, which was based on the 12 Days of Christmas song. Very creative and it made for a nice social media campaign. It was written, sung and produced in-house.

I’ve seen many brands – even ones usually inactive – share their simple happy holiday messages. Depending on the brand, I might even unfollow them. Especially if that’s the only time I hear from them!

I want value in my social media stream and being wished Happy Thanksgiving 87 times just doesn’t do that for me.

I still hope brands will follow this advice, which I first blogged about in 2014 for holidays. Interestingly, the most meaningful post I’ve seen so far related somewhat to Memorial Day wasn’t from a brand at all, but another frequent flier.

Photo by Frederick Barber

Soldier casket returns to US just before Memorial Day

In 2018, a day or so before the long Memorial Day weekend Frederick Barber, CEO of ResponseNow, on Facebook posted a picture of the casket of a fallen United States soldier being removed from an American Airlines plane at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Airport police stood by – saluting. A somber reminder for this and all Memorial Day weekend.

Related: Pictures tell stories. Remember this photo of a boy and a police officer hugging?

Seeing the series of pictures made me tear up. It’s easy to forget that the United States is still at war and that families are losing children in these wars.

I’m not saying that everyone should shelve their hot dogs, chips and beers this Memorial Day or any Memorial Day. But, let’s remember just for a moment what the day remembers and that nothing in life – including freedom – is free.  Personally, I couldn’t see myself serving in a war. I remember the early 2000s when soldiers were rolling out of Iowa City to head to the battlefields. Many of the faces that I saw showed the seriousness of the situation.

Let’s hope that we can stop wars and war deaths. But, thank you to all the soldiers willing to fight for our freedoms and pay with their time and – unfortunately – sometimes their lives.