Meghan O’Shea is an Account Executive for OMD Create Melbourne, helping clients deliver on their business challenges with content led solutions.
Social media has not only completely transformed how society communicates, but how brands communicate with their consumers. The unconstrained, far-reaching form of social media has become a force for positive change and increasingly, consumers expect brands to become a voice for this change.
To say that social media drove the #MeToo movement would be an understatement. One simple hashtag revealed the power social media holds in terms of driving immediate, global awareness. Just 24 hours after actress Alyssa Milano shared her first tweet on the issue (after activist Tamara Burke first brought awareness to the movement in 2007), Twitter confirmed that there had been over 1.7 million tweets featuring the hashtag #MeToo, reaching 85 countries. Facebook released statistics showing there were more than 12 million posts, comments and reactions regarding #MeToo in less than 24 hours, by 4.7 million users around the world. In a time where viral content is almost always helped along by an initial media investment employing a multi-platform approach, these numbers are staggering when you consider this movement began with a single, organic tweet.
According to Sprout Social, two thirds of people want brands to take a stance on social issues. Brands are now expected to go beyond simply offering products and services, to have a voice in instigating and driving positive social change. Social media is often used by companies as a vehicle to humanise a brand and communicate with their consumers on a personal level, with the Journal of Business Research and Marketing finding an authentic, trustworthy presence on social media positively influences purchase intent.
However, just because consumers expect a brand to take a stance, does that mean they should? For a topic as sensitive as #MeToo, should a brand add its voice to the conversation?
The answer is yes, but with a few key considerations:
1. Alignment with the brand.
Is this an issue that your audience could reasonably accept your brand aligning itself to?
2. Credibility in the space.
Would your audience perceive this as an attempt to capitalise on a serious issue?
3. Know who you’re talking to.
What is the anticipated reaction from your audience?
4. Are you comfortable with how your audience might react?
Are you prepared to monitor their response in real time?
5. Are you willing to take action?
Now that your brand has joined the conversation, are you actively helping to figure out a way to solve the problem?
Engaging with the problem in an authentic manner is probably the most crucial element for brands to successfully navigate joining the conversation on a social issue like #MeToo. Audi ‘Promote yourself’ and Schweppes ‘Dress for respect’ campaigns are examples of brands positively lending their voice to the movement, while Talkwalker’s ‘#MeToo map’ visually highlights the scale of this conversation across social, and the channel’s power to drive positive change.
It’s easy to think that the post #MeToo era is a dark and uncertain one, however, with brands now successfully lending their voices, influence and power to social revolutions, the future is bright.