It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is deadly.
The internet and social media have given a great deal of power to the public. Like most changes it presents good sides and bad sides. If folks like what you’re purveying and say so it is that wonderful positive feedback loop of great reviews and unsolicited testimonials.
But, on the other side of the equation…
The bad side hijacks your good ship lollipop.
Your brand sinks in a quagmire of negativity. Multiple bad actors add to the pool of despair with comments and reviews that water down all your hard work. If you, as an independent professional, are targeted, your brand and your reputation can be jeopardized. The trust you’ve built over time begins to wash away.
You may not know you’ve offended them until it is too late.
Just like a cocktail party, social media is subject to becoming a jungle of gossip. The juiciest tidbits are always negative. It is just the way human minds work. Ever notice how there are always just a few people that seem to garner all the attention? Disagree with just a few that share a viewpoint and they gang up on you.
When they decide to attack it is with all the positive aspects of social media up ended. At the least, a storm of innuendo rains down on you. At the worst, you can be subjected to boycotts or petitions that prompt attention from the media.
Their strength is their weakness.
They can’t really use social media against you unless and until they have a group of people with the same perceptions. It takes a crowd to build a movement and to make an attack go viral. The only way they can influence customers about your brand is if there are a slew of them all taking action.
Get ahead of the jackals
There is only one way to know if you are in the sights of these adversaries. You need to monitor what is being said about you.
- Look up your name on Google and read the trending comments on Facebook and Twitter
- Look up your business and check the trending comments there.
- Is your product or service reviewed? Read ‘em!
Rethink your approach to subjects that cause people to choose sides.
You can probably get away with having a favorite sports team. That sort of disagreement comes with the territory but opening a bar named for the primary rival across the street from the home town team’s arena…not such a good idea.
Politics was once a refined conversational topic. Not so much anymore. The gold standard was important once but not these days. Religion. Careful. It can depend on where you are and what you are wearing. But sticking to the higher demands of you persuasion sometimes earns a cautious respect.
Announce your beliefs in a sincere but unthreatening way that acknowledges the law.
- You can say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”
- You can’t say, “If you’re queer don’t come in here.”
- Try: ”We provide a personal service and believe the agreement to work together must be mutual”
- Use the phrase: Not all our clients (customers, patients) agree with our personal opinions but none dispute our professional capabilities.
- Help prospects to accept your approach with these words: Part of our approach is to provide a contrarian look at your business. You must accept that if we are going to work together.
In other words. Check the situation. Step back. Look at the areas that you might conflict with an influential group. Be careful when and where you open up about your opinions and be sure to disconnect them from your business acumen.
That should help.
And so it goes.
Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com
His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.