How to build a stronger brand to withstand the social media haters

Social Media Haters

By Dustin Siggins

One of the biggest shifts in business branding over the last few years is the success of social media harassment mobs in driving bad press for big businesses. A second big shift is how brands big and small are quick to retreat after even modest criticism.

These trends are great for crisis communications firms and political activists, but they portend disaster for small businesses which don’t have the time or money to respond to social media trolls and rebuild reputations.

No company is safe from this trend. Starbucks is a leader in left-of-center corporate politics, but in 2018 it had to close 8,000 stores for “racial-bias education,” which cost the company more than $10 million. Chick-fil-A was a popular choice for the social conservative until it decided to stop funding The Salvation Army. Most recently, Burger King U.K.’s choice to turn a sexist phrase on its head to promote its female chef scholarship program ran into a Twitter mob.

These companies survived the turmoil because they’re massive. They can take the hits and keep going. However, a small business might not have the luxury of losing customers, temporarily closing shop, or hiring legal and PR help during a crisis.

The new rules of business branding are becoming clear, and organizations that have found big success should be prepared for a backlash online.

Originally published on March 24, 2021