Do Consumers Have Your Back on Social Media?
Social media might have more power over your brand than you think. A new study reveals that one in five consumers will boycott a brand following negative press or scandal. The number one reason for boycotting a brand according to 55% of those surveyed was tax avoidance and evasion, followed by 40% who stopped using a brand because of poor treatment by staff. Over a third were prompted by workers in the supply chain being greatly unfairly through low wages and long hours.
Not only does negative press or scandal damage brands but the means through which consumers voice their opinions now have a larger, ripple effect. Online campaigns against brands have become one of the most powerful forces in business, giving consumers a huge virtual megaphone with which to express their opinions. Look at recent CEO Uber, Travis Kalanick, who not only announced a leave of absence but then a few days later resigned. Although there was a string of scandals, it was the swiftness with which Kalanick stepped down that is noteworthy. In another time, Mr. Kalanick might have been able to hang on. But we live in an era dominated by the unyielding influence of social feeds. Every new Uber revelation ignited a massive campaign against the company on Twitter and Facebook with consumers posting a #deleteUber that fed the fire. A swirl of negative branding took on a life of its own that could not be ignored.
The potential negative impact social media can have on companies goes beyond Uber. Bill O’Reilly was dropped from Fox News after his strong history of sexual harassment was exposed. Viewers flocked to social media and began to boycott the show’s advertisers, who quickly responded by pulling their advertising during his show. Fox ultimately had to fire O’Reilly in order to avoid more negative publicity.
All of these examples paint one clear picture: consumers have leveraged the power of social media to communicate with brands. Monitoring one’s social channels for inklings of negativity is just as critical so that a spark of discontent doesn’t escalate. Years ago, when television shaped mainstream consumer sentiment, companies controlled their image through advertising. Today though, brands have little say over how their latest message gets interpreted since it is circulated across social feeds.
How has your brand dealt with negative consumer feedback on social media?