In the information age, every single marketing collateral is vulnerable to being trolled. Every now and then we see brand & ambassadors being trolled at every possible instance. 2021 started with Fortune cooking oil being trolled for Saurav Ganguly’s heart problems. Then came the Whatsapp updated privacy fiasco. Everyone, including the rival brands, took potshots at the brand for being a sell-out and became the latest episode where netizens just couldn't keep calm. Earlier in last year, Tanishq had to face the backlash over a commercial showing inter-faith marriage. So brands and marketers need to be on top of their game to avoid and deal with unexpected Social Media Crisis.
Navigating the Negativity: What’s the Way forward for Brands to Manage Crises and Trolls?
Most of the leading marketing experts say there’s no fixed route to dealing with severe trolling and social media abuse. However, many agree that it is best to avoid any instant reaction to salvage the brand reputation. And adopting a well thought out plan will surely do the trick.
The response to these brand crises is also a reflection of the brand's core ethos and values. So, if a brand is clear about the values that define the brand, such scenarios can also be converted into an opportunity to further brand building. Case in point, in 2019, Zomato didn't bow down to the furore created over a customer's refusal to accept delivery because of the delivery boy's religion. And not just the brand's digital marketing team but even the CEO reaffirmed the brand’s stance about the company’s values, which ultimately went in the brand’s favour.
Similarly, recently when a user highlighted that some pro-government people tweeted they don't need farmers for food and can always order from Swiggy, the brand joined the conversation and scored brownie points by stating their opinion on the situation.
In these instances, both the brands leveraged their stand to get the traction to their advantage.
Best Practices for Managing Brand Ambassadors and Crises
Once a brand signs up brand ambassadors, they are seen as an extension of the brand. And not just any current event in the brand ambassador’s life, but even things that happened in the past can incite the trolls. So, if a brand encounters a serious
problem due to mishaps, the first step in the response is to acknowledge the problem.
This step should include the rollback of any active campaigns featuring the said brand ambassador to prevent trolls from fueling the fire.
The brand can then empathize with the affected person and situation to highlight the brand's stand on the issue at hand. This should be done with the bigger picture in mind from a branding perspective.
For example, in the case of Fortune cooking oil, the brand can highlight that heart problem have multiple causes, not just oil being consumed. Next, the brand can convey a heartfelt message about the speedy recovery of the brand ambassador. Further, the brand can put across cases of users who have had similar problems in the past and how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle by consuming their product.
And, in instances where things are unnecessarily blown out of proportion, for example, the case of Tanishq’s campaign of interfaith marriage, it is best to lay low for a while and let the controversy die down. The attention span of social media commentators is very fickle and quickly moves to the next trending topic. Also, since most trolls do it just for the heck of it and aren't really the brand's target customers, the brand's digital marketing strategy should be about not reacting to these conversations. And once a brand chooses not to react but respond smartly, this approach makes sense for brands to safeguard themselves against any further damage to their brand perception.
Tacking Trolling Smartly
Just like Zomato and Swiggy, recently the face wash brand from Mankind Pharma, Acne Star, rolled out a campaign to silence the haters and turn the conversation on its head. Social media influencers face trolling every day. The brand smartly played the factor to its advantage by featuring influencers to talk about how trolling is just some audience obsessed with the influencers. The brand plugged its value offering and made waves. This example shows how one can convert brand ambassador crises into an opportunity by tweaking digital marketing strategy based on the ongoing online conversations.
So yes, a reliable agency with a sound strategy to tackle trolling will help brands in dealing with social media crises. It takes a dedicated team of experts to overcome these unseen challenges with either witty repartees or a shrewd slow-paced plan to turn the tide in your favour. At Pulp Strategy, we successfully create winning ideas for a brand or ambassador's outreach plans to get the message across, smoothly.
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