So what damage control can celebrities and business leaders, who are social media influencers, do if faced with a scandal on social media?
Steer clear of controversial topics that don’t relate to your business: Celebrities should stick to what they know best and stay clear of sensitive topics including religion, politics, bashing competitors and any ongoing issues with a non-generalist perspective.
Building trust and perception: While it is essential to create content that’s authentic and true to their values, influencers should work on building a long-lasting online relationship with their followers and partnered brands. This will help them build trust and have a healthy online reputation.
Invest in a good Public Relations/Social Media Marketing Firm: It is essential for business leaders to trust PR firms that have expertise in strategizing social media content to guide them on their social media activities. Companies that provide online reputation management services don’t just build a positive online image for business leaders, but can also help in increasing the credibility of a brand. They help by greatly limiting the chance of attracting negative attention from their followers.
Devise a response plan if things go awry: In the event of a social media crisis, developing a proactive action plan can help influencers reduce the extent of the blow. It should include the right template for prompt responses, being wary of the social media policy of the said influencer’s organization and initiating effective crisis communication plans.
Apologise and move forward: As an important follow-up, it is crucial for influencers to own up, apologise and take full responsibility for their actions. Their response should be polite and empathetic so as to mitigate the chances of worsening the backlash that they may have potentially triggered.
How Brands can do damage control
The high-profile split between top brands and the rapper also highlights that collaboration agreements should not only plan for the best of times but should also account for a sudden and troubling end.
Data shows that brands with a negative article on the first page of search results can expect to lose 22% of revenue. With two negative results, this number can increase to 44% and with three, the loss can rise to about 60%. Hence, brands need to do their due diligence about whom they partner with for endorsements.
Additionally, brand collaboration agreements should have well-drafted provisions that list out all the issues like ownership of Intellectual Property (IP), moral clauses, communication after the breakup and social media content after the crisis. This can go a long way in damage control, both reputational and monetary and take the sting out of the disaster.