Cancel Culture and Reputation

2022-01-09 by EPR Staff
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We’re all living in an era when the social media phenomenon of “cancel culture” is either unavoidable or inevitable. However, the term itself, and “cancellations” aren’t a new thing that became popular with the rise of social media use. Back in the 1960s, people could also “cancel” various brands and corporations, in a slightly different way. All it took back then was people using their financial power by boycotting brands to push for different changes.

The only difference between then and now is the fact that companies can get canceled on social media, which fuels those movements. The prevalent use of social media also means that no one is safe from getting canceled, and the big costs that come with such an event happening. One example of this is the number of companies that are currently having trouble retaining their employees in what has been deemed the “Great Resignation”.

There are a number of companies that have to take note of the fact that activism is on the rise, and many consumers, as well as employees, want companies to take a stand, and take action on various issues. The effects of cancel culture are most visible within the power dynamics between employers and their employees because of that. When a company and its leaders aren’t held accountable, it can get canceled. At any point, there can be employees that can go on social media platforms and talk about the negative elements of a company, and can even ask other people to join in on the conversation or provide their own criticisms of a company.

Fortunately, companies can better mitigate those negative PR situations with the help of the right influencers. There have been a number of examples when an influencer campaign or partnership has led to a negative situation for brands, such as the advert for Pepsi that featured Kendall Jenner, which trivialized a very serious conversation about police brutality and racial justice. However, partnering with the right influencers, and working on the right campaign can help companies improve their reputation during difficult times.

One of the ways that companies can mitigate such situations is by working with micro-influencers, which simply niche social media celebrities that have less than 100,000 followers. These are people that have a much higher engagement rate compared to influencers that have a bigger following, which means they also have a stronger relationship with those followers. Furthermore, micro-influencers are also a lot less likely to be polarizing, since they’re not constantly being talked about in tabloids. However, this situation is only available to companies that have a preexisting relationship with a micro-influencer.

As for other PR crises when a company doesn’t have a preexisting relationship with an influencer but would like to create a campaign to improve its reputation with the public, it’s important to focus on the quality of the followers that an influencer has, instead of the number of people that follow them. Aside from that, companies can also employ social listening strategies to monitor brand sentiment and figure out whether a crisis is looming on the horizon.