The Politics of Social Media

It’s a weird time to work in social media. From accusations and other such statements on sexual harassment, comments on climate change, and talk of all-things Trump, social channels have peaked to a position of seriousness. Communication channels that had previously been written off as “oh-so-millennial” have transitioned to being at the epicenter of all-things political.

If anything, my job has become more complex. As communicators and marketers, we’ve been challenged — rightfully so! — to consider the political implications of each and every piece of content we produce and intend to publish. Agility comes second to accuracy, and the quest to understand our audiences becomes less about purchase power and more about ethics and values.

Some brands and personalities face just as much criticism for not addressing certain issues as they would if they made the strongest of statements for or against a cause. Silence on social media can be deafening. But cutting to the chase too quickly might also spark outrage. Most recently, Lena Dunham has come under fire for rushing to defend a Girls writer who had been accused of sexual assault. Critics and fans were both quick to criticize Dunham, whose statement read as such a stark departure from the rhetoric she had previously clung so close to; her position on the topic may have been her truth, but it trivialized a potential victim, and it was tweeted for the world to see and react to.

To effectively communicate digitally when everything will — without a doubt — be evaluated through a highly personal and politicized lens, we have to return to process for control, and reconnect with the brand ethos for the sake of authenticity.

It’s not about creating a reactive culture of community managers — it’s about always being prepared for when you may have to react, and being ready with a statement that supports the brand for its consciously crafted content without alienating audiences — whether or not they’re customers. What matters most is that the message is thoughtfully crafted and true to the brand.

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