media update’s Nicole van Wyk gets down to the nitty-gritty of protecting your brand image online.

Consumerism in the digital era is centred around social consciousness, and it is something your business needs to consider when your brand is being represented in the digisphere.

What is online activism?

This is a form of protest that uses social media to address issues that act in the interest of social justice. Online activism has become a powerful tool in the virtual world, and it is important to remember that this form of protest can be translated into real-life situations that could easily taint your brand image. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure you are clued up on issues that your consumers are passionate about.

1. Conduct brand research

Always do your research before you participate in any online debates. Knowing the background of the debates — and what each side has to say — will make it easier for your brand to take a stance. Doing research beforehand means that you will be prepared with a counter argument should the need for one arise.

Based on your research, you will be able to decide whether or not the cause you are fighting for aligns with your brand’s image.

Image sourced from UMKC

Before you back a hashtag, ask yourself this: Does my brand have a social responsibility towards this particular cause? If the answer is yes, then by all means, put that keyboard to work. But if the answer is no, you need to locate the logout button and mind your own ‘brand-image-protection’ business.

2. Interact with like-minded individuals and brands

Try to maintain an online brand persona that will be easily recognised by your consumers and followers. Remember that your online engagement is not only limited to consumers who already endorse your brand but it also includes potential customers who may be attracted to what your business has to offer.

Online interactions with brands and individuals who share similar interests and values as your brand will keep you on your toes.

Image sourced from Know Your Meme

Remember that your brand's reputation is not only affected by what you have to say but also how you say it.

You don’t always have to provide commentary on social injustices. Rather be safe than sorry. Choose your battles wisely and make sure that when your brand takes a stance that it’s one you’re willing to defend to the end — and not just a fleeting cause. Partial commitment is not a good look.

3. Schedule and monitor your posts

Scheduling your posts will ensure quality control. Using a social media scheduling app such as TweetDeck, SocialOomph and even Facebook’s scheduling feature are just a few examples of social media management apps.

Image sourced from Neal Schaffer

Scheduling your posts will allow you to proofread all of your posts before sending. Think of it as a thorough check before you post and you can revisit it as many times as you’d like to edit before it goes out  — that way you will always be sure of the message you are sending out to the interwebs. Once you know when and what you're posting, you'll be able to steer the conversation surrounding your brand in the desired direction.

While you will never have full control over your brand’s image online, scheduling and monitoring your online mentions is a sure-fire way to keep tabs on the way your brand is being perceived by consumers. Using a social media tracking and reporting service such as amaSocial will make the brand tracking process easier.

You can use the search bar on any social media app to look for posts that mention your brand. This way you can address opposing views presented in the online conversation you are participating in. Online activism is a great tool for mobilising masses, but because it has a such a wide reach, there is plenty of room for misunderstanding — so always be on the lookout for loopholes in the discussion.

4. Don’t take it personally

Don’t allow your personal persona to overshadow your brand’s online image. You need to put aside your personal beliefs for a second and remember that this is not about you. You are merely a representative of a brand.

If you allow a personal sentiment to get in the way of you conveying a brand-related message, you may need to take a step back and reconsider the angle you are approaching your online interaction with.

Image sourced from MEME

Keep a level head and remember that the brand’s image is in your hands. If you feel strongly about a cause in a personal capacity, but it does not align with the image, then you simply have to keep scrolling and address the issue on your personal account. 

Do you think it’s important for brands to participate in online activism? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you know what online activism means for your brand, you can stay on top of your brand’s social media game by having a look at these Five ways to tell if your brand’s content is valuable.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy