It might not happen, but it is worth considering what your brand does and how it responds in a time of crisis or criticism. Unfortunately, we live in a shame culture and the smallest thing can set people off on a tirade of abuse. In recent times we have seen quite a few examples during the COVID-19 outbreak.
But even before this, trolling and online shame campaigns were pretty commonplace.
At some point, you’ll likely share something that makes someone feel justified in trolling or shaming you. Depending on your own values, you might even try to incite others to increase your traction – your brand might be one of those that seek to play devil’s advocate. However, even the most divisive personalities need to be ready to bear the brunt of the backlash.
In any case, what can you do to get through this situation?
When a brand goes bad it is often nothing to do with you and a lot more to do with other people and the way they have been triggered. Therefore, separating your own emotional reaction from the situation is the first piece of advice I would give you, especially if the person or people offended are being particularly unreasonable and negative. Try to distance yourself and recognise that they are experiencing a reaction which might be out of their control. I always try to approach things in this way and adopt humility where I can to rationalise, realise and apologise my impact on others. There is a lot of strength in forgiveness. Forgive yourself for saying or doing something wrong and forgive others for reacting and retaliating.
My second piece of advice would be to own it. You made the decision to post, make a statement, comment or whatever it was you did that caused the trouble. It’s your responsibility to own those actions. But this doesn’t mean you have to explain yourself or justify it to others. In fact, in both counts, I would avoid explaining, justifying or getting into a war of words with people. What you can do, is thoughtfully put together a statement or comment about the situation to both own what you did and acknowledge its impact on others. You don’t have to apologise unless you want to, but a heartfelt apology will help the situation as long as it is not written in an “I’m sorry YOU feel this way” kind of way.
Express that you made a mistake, it was not your intention, you are sorry to have offended people and take the lesson.
I would not take it back or change your tack on your original situation either. Retracting creates inconsistency of you and your brand. You do not want to seem insipid or changeable because this will only lead to further criticism around your need to win people around. You need to stand and hold firm in your actions and opinions but act in the most humane and candid way possible to navigate the storm.
Like all things, and now more than ever, comments, posts and videos get buried very easily. We live in a digital world of constant content. So, if you admit your fault and then choose not to return to it, but instead focus on promoting, commenting, liking, sharing other new content, it will quickly be forgotten, and people’s emotional reaction will subside.
I very much hope your brand doesn’t go bad, and you aren’t faced with a situation like this, but if you do make a whoopsie I hope this helps!