With social media, everyone is given a voice. Everyone has the ability to comment on the latest issue or controversy. But as a business, knowing what to say (and when) can be tricky. Research indicates that 70% of consumers expect brands to take a stand on important social issues. 66% of consumers hold this belief because they believe brands have the power to create change.
But, as every business knows, making your voice known often isn’t always warranted, let alone prudent. Yet sometimes, even the most benign posts can veer into the “Cancel Culture” bushes swarming with Karens. As a result, managing controversial topics on social media is a necessary and delicate skill. Read our top tips for dealing with challenging topics on social media below.
Try to stay neutral when appropriate
When it comes to business, a lot of companies try to stay apolitical. This is especially helpful if you aren’t too keen on blowing up your comments section. If someone was to leave a political comment on your content, it’s often best to leave it there and avoid replying – or remove it when necessary. By avoiding controversial topics on social media, you can help avoid tacky arguments from taking place in your comments section. The exception to this approach is when you are clearly staking a claim on specific values that form your brand’s core. Patagonia, for example, frequently posts about environmental causes and doesn’t shy away from stating their company’s position on controversial topics that relate to those principles. (More on this below!)
Establish a clearly defined social media policy
It’s also important to establish ground rules for your social media pages. Set up a clear policy on what content will be and won’t be tolerated on your business page. Be sure to communicate your policy with all team members so everyone is on the same page when posting and managing the social media accounts for the business. When necessary, apologise when offensive content has been shared on your page.
Establishing a clear social media policy sets the tone, so people interacting with your page are more likely to adhere to your guidelines. Plus, if anyone chooses to post content on your page that conflicts with your policy, they won’t be too surprised when you choose to remove it.
Stick to the facts
A good rule of thumb is to stick to the facts rather than a viewpoint to maintain a fair perspective. By sticking to the facts, businesses can engage in controversial topics without risking an overtly political stance. This also allows companies to comment on an issue when necessary; while keeping their social media efforts relevant to their business a majority of the time.
Don’t ignore company-specific issues
If any controversy arises, that is specific to your business, be sure to address it promptly. Handle negativity with transparency and as directly as you can. When businesses allow negativity to fester or instead completely ignore it, this generally causes even more damage to their brand.
Don’t shy away from issues you care about
While staying out of politics on your business, social media is often preferable; depending on your business (and your core beliefs), speaking up about issues you care about is important. It can serve as a meaningful way to show that you care about societal issues. Apple, for example, is taking a heavier step into privacy debates about the “public good” when it comes to data. It is an incredibly strategic decision, with their key competitors in the form of Google and Facebook being disadvantaged by Apple doing so. If you choose to do so at the end of the day, your company’s values should shine through many of the social media posts you make because they perfectly align with your brand and USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
Knowing the right thing to do when managing controversial topics on social media is tricky. Choosing the right time and the right way to speak on social media is essential for your business. At Ronin, we manage social media marketing for a diverse range of businesses. We take pride in our knack for creating engaging content that fosters loyal brand communities. If you’d like to learn more about our broad range of digital marketing services, be sure to contact our friendly team today.