Social media has given brands a larger soapbox than ever before. During times of tragedy, it can give them a platform to help victims immediately.
During the Paris attacks, many companies offered services for free to help out or tweeted support for the victims. Uber suspended surge pricing and sent out message alerts advising Parisians to stay indoors in accordance with what authorities were stating. AirBnB offered free accommodations for stranded travelers on the company's Disaster Response page.
"Before it was just ads on TV," said Anush Prabhu, a partner at advertising agency Deutsch. "Brands didn't have any ability to comment. Today, brands are getting into conversations that are more relevant to people."
But with today's skeptical public, displays of support can backfire. Not everyone was in favor of Uber changing its cars on its app to the colors of the French flag. The Independent noted that it felt "opportunistic," considering the company's documented battles with the government over its UberPop service (which is similar to UberX in the U.S.). Some people spoke out against changing Facebook's option to change profile pictures to include a French flag overlay, saying it increased more hatred against certain groups.