Editor's Take

Surviving and Cracking Social Media: How Big Brands Can Sustain Online Reputation and Public Hate

Every brand, especially the major ones, has had the moment when they tweeted or posted something to sound or look exclusive but ultimately got counterpunched by the social media users. A freshly brewed controversy girded Surf Excel for the advert where it showed the plight of a Muslim boy during Holi festivities, who drove away home the point of communal harmony. The ad, however, drew flak and had been labeled as ‘anti-Hindu’ by a certain section of people. This has been called as a case of Marketing Myopia by the viewers, where the brands like Surf Excel has been criticized for having an inward-looking approach towards advertising. Social Media, even though, can be a clear way to show off your company’s personality to the rest of the world, the important aspect is – to establish a tone of voice for your brand and share (relevant) opinions because, in the end, it is all about standing strong as a brand.

Recently, at StreamCon Asia, Akash Banerjee, Founder & Creative Head, NAB Digital Media, and a political satirist talked about how brands should be careful about brand reputation.

Here are Banerjee’s 10 pointers alongwith my additional inputs on how brands should survive social media like a pro.

1. Prepare for Backlash

If as a brand you want to put forward a progressive thought, you will definitely receive backlash. The social media is dominated by conservative forces that might look liberated but is followed by counter-arguments used for repressive purposes. If you are a brand, no matter what you will get hit back because of social media. Also, criticism will always be inertly active throughout. Just accept it! There are brands that are still connecting to certain people, despite huge backlashes.

2. Don’t Respond to Everything and Everyone on Social Media

Remember that social media is public. Handling customer complaints is a different thing and dealing with negative comments on social media cannot be taken as a regular thing for a brand. The brands should remember that it’s too easy to turn a social media comment into disaster by responding to it irrelevantly and lowering your reputation. It’s not necessary to get engaged with everything. The brands instead should get engaged with people with valid questions.

3. Take Abuses as Compliment – Not as Insults

It’s impossible to evade from criticism these days. And there can be times when criticism can be wrapped in abuses and sooner or later, you will be targeted and get abused. Accept the abuses and take them as compliments. If someone criticizes your brand, it’s important to respond but respond in a constructive way.

4. Accept Trolling

Trolling is both humorous and satirical or it can be full of allegations and abuse.  But remember, trolls don’t believe a word they write. But say it anyway, just to piss off others. You can also listen and think about the motivation of a troller. Do they appear frustrated, stating a seemingly authentic claim about your business, product or service?


Do they sound outraged, seething, and trying to incite rage in your brand or in other users? If so, you have got yourself a live, social media troll – an internet misfit, in the digital flesh. Fighting back against trolls can engage your brand in a battle that nobody can win. Online trolling won’t stop until forced out or spread boredom. So better to ignore them completely! And if you have been targeted with wrong information, respond with accurate facts.

5. Use Privacy Features on Social Media

Every social media platform, be it YouTube or Facebook, has certain guidelines and privacy features that you can actually follow. If you post a video on YouToube, you have an option to disable comments. This can be a precautionary step to avoid negative comments and abuses targeting your brand. Also, you can block certain people who are constant in flooding the wall of your social handles with trolls that might corrode the brand image.

6. Handle Fake News About Your Brand

There are numerous examples of brands who actually have been dragged to court just because of someone who sparked a rumor. Such rumors can be so destroying for the reputation of your company, it will take years to regain the trust of the audience. Being a responsible brand, address such rumors immediately. Counter false claims before losing crores in the stock market.

7. Don’t Be a Lazy Liberal

Be a liberal not a lazy liberal as a brand. For that, you first need to make friends within your own community. Talk and partner with like-minded people or even collaborate with other brands and create a progressive eco-system with healthy competition. Doing this can actually make other brands to speak in favor of your brand socially.

8. Be Humorous as a Brand

To connect to the youngsters, you cannot just all about be plain and lack vigor. Social media all starts with youngsters so you must engage with funny and witty things. A classic example is the Twitter handle of the Mumbai police. Their subtle tweets elevate the mood. So you need to question yourself too – Is your brand humorous?

9. Question and be Open to Questions on Social Media

This is an era of transparency and people do love brands who have always been open to questions or ask questions considering their social responsibility. So, you as a brand needs to take-up valid questions and answer them. Avoiding questions can put credibility in question.

10. Use Multimedia

Being humorous or full of content is not enough. Your brand should be interactive too, and interactive in the sense of aesthetic appearance. Use GIFs, insert more engaging formats, and animation. Just putting up a witty line won’t do. You need to be highly creative with online content.