Going Dark On Social Media: The Why & How

Going Dark On Social Media: The Why & How

Social media has become a critical part of the modern business landscape. Brands invest significant resources into developing and maintaining their social media presence, and for good reason. Social media can be a powerful tool for driving brand awareness, building communities, and engaging with customers. 

However, there are times when a brand may want to go “dark” on social media. Today we talk about what that means, why a brand might want to do it, and some tips for going dark effectively.

What Does Going Dark On Social Media Mean?

Going dark on social media simply means temporarily ceasing all activity on a brand’s social media channels. This can include everything from posting updates and responding to comments to running ads and engaging with followers. Essentially, refraining from the activities common to social media marketing for a specified time.

It’s important to note that going dark (usually) doesn’t necessarily mean disappearing altogether. A brand might still be active behind the scenes, working on new campaigns or developing its social media strategy.

Why a Brand Might Want to Go Dark on Social Media

Going dark on social media is not a decision that should be taken lightly. However, there are times when it can be a smart move for a brand. Here are some reasons why a brand might consider it:

Time off

The first reason is the most common. Brands may choose to go dark on social media simply to give their social media team some time off. Social media teams are often expected to be available 24/7, which can lead to burnout. Going dark for a short period of time can help team members recharge and come back to their work refreshed. For example, in 2020, Patagonia announced that it wouldn’t be active on social media on election day. This gave their employees time to vote and prioritize their overall mental health.

Rebranding or relaunch

If a brand is undergoing a major rebranding or relaunch, it may be best to temporarily go dark on social media. This is often the time when new branding or messaging is developed and tested, which can help build anticipation and excitement for the new launch. This is exactly what Wendy’s did in 2012. The restaurant used the time they were dark on social media to plan a new logo rollout.

Crisis management

If a brand is facing a crisis or scandal, it may be best to temporarily go dark on social media. This can give the brand time to address the issue internally and formulate a plan before publicly addressing it on social media. For example, after the infamous United Airlines incident in which a passenger was forcibly removed from an overbooked flight LINK, the airline went dark on social media for a few days while they addressed the issue.

Seasonal break

Some brands may choose to go dark on social media during slower seasons or holidays. These are typically times when engagement is likely to be lower. This can allow the brand to save resources and come back with renewed energy when engagement is higher. For example, some clothing retailers may go dark on social media during the summer months when people are less likely to be shopping for winter clothes.

Environmental or social causes

Lastly, going dark on social media is a strategy that can create attention. Specifically, brands can use the silence as a form of protest or to draw attention to a particular cause or issue. For example, many brands went dark on social media in 2020 as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. This called for companies to pause their advertising on Facebook to protest the platform’s handling of hate speech and misinformation.

Tips for Going Dark on Social Media:

As we’ve seen, brands can have a variety of reasons for why they might go dark on social media. But how do you do it effectively? Here are 7 tips.

Plan ahead

Staying inactive on social media can be a big move for any brand. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead. Make sure you have a clear strategy in place. Here are some questions you should answer before going dark:

  • What platforms are you leaving?
  • How long will you be gone?
  • What is your end goal for going dark?

Be transparent

Communicate with your followers about why you’re taking a break from social media. What message do you want to give your audience before you disappear? Be clear about this before going dark. This can help reduce confusion and ensure that your audience doesn’t assume you’ve closed up shop. 

Offer alternatives

Regardless of your plans for going dark, people still want to stay connected to your brand. That’s why it’s important to offer your audience alternative ways for staying in touch. This could be anything from email newsletters to a dedicated landing page on your website, or even a phone number they can call.

Set expectations

Be clear about when you will be returning to social media, as well as what followers can expect when you do. Will you be posting less frequently? Will your content have a different tone? Perhaps even a website redesign? Whatever happens after the period of no social media use, setting these expectations can help to avoid confusion. It also ensures a smooth transition back to regular posting.

Keep a close eye with social listening

Even if you aren’t posting on social media, it’s important to keep an eye on what people are saying about your brand. This means using social listening tools to monitor brand mentions and respond to any concerns or questions that arise. The reason? You still want to have an idea of how your followers are responding to your period of inactivity.


Are you an enterprise, nonprofit or small business looking for help with your social media management? Give us a shout! We provide a free consultation. Email us at info@lughstudio.com or call us at (718) 855-1919

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