A whole week has passed since most of us witnessed what happened on the 94th Academy Awards.
The two people at the center of the controversy are influential figures, and in the days since, social media and mainstream media have kept us up to date with opinions on the matter. That of the influencers included.
How about exploring some lessons that could be learned from the bigger picture from an influencer reputation management perspective.
You are not immune
In the week following the event, I came across a friend’s Facebook post regarding cancel culture (boycotting an artist when they cross the line, according to societal norms). She argued that while artists should be held accountable for their actions, their art should not suffer in the same way. While his argument makes sense, it will take some time for the world to figure this out. This is because, unfortunately, people rarely separate art from person.
It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, your community also holds you in high esteem. Make no mistake about it, being an influencer does not exempt you from criticism, on the contrary, it puts you at the very center of it. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of how you present yourself to your community and always make sure it aligns with your brand values. You don’t have to conform to who someone wants you to be, but when you decide to be seen in a certain light, be sure to stick to that narrative; while remaining authentic.
Be careful what you lend your voice to
After the event, most influencers had an opinion. Some tried to shed some light on the situation, which their community didn’t care about, while others jumped on the bandwagon to stay relevant, again, their community saw through, some also came across as deaf for commenting on an issue they had little or no understanding of and better believe, they received a lot of backlash for it.
So what’s the point here? Simply put, your voice doesn’t need to be heard on every topic for you to be relevant. It is important to cultivate a sense of discernment. Evaluate topics before adding your voice, ask yourself; does it add value? Do I know enough to express myself on this subject (through cultural or social association)? Or could it affect my reputation? Your community has stuck with you long enough because you have aligned interests, once you identify them, speak up and be careful about joining conversations that could damage your image. In short, find yourself a niche and stay in your lane.
It takes a lot of restraint to stay professional, especially in this space. As an influencer you will always have negativity coming from all directions, how you respond is what matters. Your answer should be free of; violence, sarcasm (especially if you don’t know the person) and insults.
Additionally, choosing not to respond to negative troll-like comments is often the best course of action. You also have the block button, the beauty of some social media platforms, if you think your peace is disturbed, use it.
Take responsibility when you’re wrong
We hope for no bad circumstances, but in the rare event that you are at fault, accept responsibility for the role you played. Do this with sincerity because of course the informed public would know when it’s just for show.
Two things with different reactions can happen; You will drag your name through the mud if you decide not to apologize, and when you decide to remain silent, you still communicate a lack of sensitivity to issues that your community holds in high esteem. When the Bible said that a good name is better than wealth, I bet it never crossed your mind, it would apply to questions about influencer reputation management.
During a crisis, as we have seen, you will be trending for a few days, weeks, months or even years, but what good is it if you are trending for all the wrong reasons. Don’t forget that you are working with brands that also have a reputation to uphold. Partnering with influencers whose values match their brand image is not in their best interests.
No PR person would be happy to clean up. So dear influencer, before reacting, ask yourself the question, is the goal to be trendy or to bring value? just one of these options will consistently give you longer shelf life in your market of choice.
In a nutshell, as an influencer, your reputation precedes you and should be at the forefront of every decision you make.