Anyone can publicly criticize brands and people on social media platforms if they say or do something offensive or abusing
Cancel Culture is public outrage against a micro-celebrity, or a brand, for their public statements or actions
- Create a detailed communication strategy to keep your brand from being cancelled. Avoid controversies, and invest in sub-brands
If your situation is getting out of control, admit to the mistake and get a crisis manager hired
J.K Rowling and other major celebrities faced the wrath from netizens in 2021 for their actions. Brands and celebrities should be held accountable, at least for the majority of it. Marketers need to recognize that this trend is here to stay.
Pew research shows that 58 percent of Americans believe calling out others via social media is a better way to hold them accountable. There are many ways to cancel culture. I explore the core of this phenomenon and what brands can do to protect their brand’s reputation and identity online.
Source: PEW Research Center
What is “cancel culture?”
Cancel Culture is a contemporary way to express disapproval over someone’s actions or public statements.
People who cancel a brand are encouraging people to stop buying from them. Cancelling means to stop buying from a brand.
Social media is a great platform for cancel culture. It gives anyone the opportunity to speak out and allows people to come together around a common cause.
It is controversial to think of cancel culture.
It raises many legal issues. Public shame refers to the idea of public square trials, where an individual could have been punished without being proven guilty.
Cancell culture, on the other hand is a powerful tool for achieving social justice.
How can you keep your brand safe?
1. Develop comprehensive communication policies
Anybody who is allowed to speak publicly or publish content for you should adhere to strict guidelines. These rules include what they cannot say, topics to avoid and who should be notified of any public feedback.
This document can be referred to as communication policy.
It’s helpful if company executives follow that document too, as CEOs can often cause all the problems.
American University, for example, has a detailed marketing and communications policy that lists all the rules their employees must follow when they send out email newsletters or post on social media channels.
These are their communication guidelines for posting to social media. This will give you an idea of how your brand’s communication strategy could look.
Be careful when postingspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>: Privacy is not an option in social media. Think about what might happen if the post is widely shared and how that may impact the University.
- Be accurate : Know the facts before you post them to social media.
- Respect Understand that comments and discussion on social media sites can encourage people to disagree with you
- On personal websites : Identify your views and claim them as yours.
Comments and Photography – Do not comment on or post pictures or comments that involve AU employees, volunteers or students without their consent
Communication policies are not something you can create in one day. It should address different situations, outline policies for different channels, and provide clear steps to follow:
- Reacting to negative comments or reviewsspan Style=”font-weight 400 ;”>.
- How to use Marketing tactics such as emotional marketing and create case studies . These should be handled with extra care to protect the feelings of your customers.
- How to ensure smooth communications with automated email (to prevent being called out for spamming)
Create your policy as an searchable knowledge base so that you can expand it as new situations arise.
2. Avoid controversy (if you can)
You may feel compelled to use your public image to support the ideals you believe in, as a founder or member of society.
This may be a costly decision.
Public words can work against you and create a crisis that your team might not be prepared to handle.
Keep silent if in doubt.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to be neutral.
Customers today are often demanding that brands publicly declare their stance in today’s highly polarized market. This was evident when McDonald’s and Coca-Cola were forced to leave Russia after what appeared like a quiet hesitation.
In many instances, silence may not be an optionspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>. Being neutral is becoming complicit these days and it’s not something that many brands can afford.
If you are faced with the decision to respond to political climates, it is better to take action than to issue a statement. According to a report, customers are more open to brands who take action than try to please their audience by talking empty words.
Instead of condemning anyone, you can start a fundraiser for the cause or give money. Even though your words may backfire, at least you will have taken action.
3. Recognize your mistakes and admit them
Although cancel culture can seem scary, there are many examples of companies that have reacted to any crisis by simply apologizing.
If your company is the target of public outrage
Meet with your employees to discuss the possibility of being mischarged in a previous statement.
Even if you feel that you didn’t do anything wrong, it is possible for your PR, communications and legal teams to have a different opinion.
Consider hiring a crisis manager if your case is not serious enough and there are many accusations. Sometimes you may need someone outside your circle of friends.
4. Invest in a subbrand
We have been repeating the same advice for years: Do not create multiple brands. Concentrate on one.
The recent years of a public cancellation threat over a potential clumsy public response have clearly shown one thing: Your personal brand could be destroyed within a matter of hours.
While most brands can be saved with sufficient reputation and management efforts, it may take several months before the public forgives mistakes and becomes loyal again.
In these times, it seems like a smart idea to have another brand name to rely on in the event of a reputation crisis.
There are many examples of businesses that have seen a brand new name save them.
We’ve seen Rowling change her pen name to keep writing and McAfee change its name to Intel Security in an effort to distance itself from its founder. Numerous other cases show that even though you have spent a lot of time building a brand, it is still vulnerable. This is especially true now that the brand may be canceled.
You can start increasing your organic visibility, even if you’re a solo entrepreneur or a small business. You will always have backup options in case your main brand is damaged.
In the worst-case scenario, you won’t be able use your sub-brand. However, you can still use the site rankings for additional leads and sales.
5. Data privacy and security must be prioritized.
Security and privacy are the greatest threats to any brand’s wellbeing. After their data leak became public, even giants like Google Plus had to be shut down.
Cyberattacks can cause customers to lose their money and identities, which can be very difficult to recover from. Cyberattacks are especially dangerous for B2B marketing, as it involves the use of sensitive data.
You can create a culture of security in your company so that all employees are aware of data security protocols. This will help protect customer’s private data.
- Create a culture that encourages transparency. This will keep your employees up to date on security risks and new threats. It also lists steps to after a data breach .
- Let your customers know that you are taking steps to ensure their privacy and keep your business in compliance with the privacy regulations .
It is an interesting time, when everyone has a voice. We are still learning how we can live in a world in which any argument can be made public and becomes viral. These unknown waters can be both frightening and thrilling. However, the old saying “hope for what the best” is almost always a good strategy. Good luck!
Ann Smarty, the founder of Viral Content Bee and brand manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas, is Ann Smarty. You can find her on Twitter @seosmarty
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