In-Scope: Social media – The voice of the armchair critic

Georgina Rising is an Account Executive within OMD Fuse Melbourne, helping clients deliver on their business challenges with content led decisions.


In the day and age of social media, brand reputation is now more important than ever. Brands strive for positive word of mouth and aim to uphold a leading reputation in their category. But, all the hard work throughout the years of building up their brand, can come crashing down in a matter of seconds. Reputation is a world ruled by social media.

Social media allows the everyday consumer to make their own assumptions about a brand. Likes and comments trademark a voice. People band together to prove the wrongdoings of a brand and glorify the actions of brands who do good.

We’ve seen passengers aboard the United Airline aircraft in April, instantly take to Facebook and Twitter, posting graphic videos and live-tweeting about the innocent passenger brutally attacked and dragged off the flight. Within minutes, United Airlines was exposed to the world. Within seconds, their reputation was crushed.

This was shortly followed by Pepsi launching their newest ad featuring Kendall Jenner. Within 48 hours the video had over 1.5 million views, but this was not a sign of success. Twitter and Facebook ignited the fire of consumer conversation. The ad was a depiction of one of the poignant photographs taken at the Black Lives Matter march that did not resonate with the audience. Days later the ad is pulled from all channels, proving the power of social media.



To build trust and engagement with consumers, brands need to develop an emotional connection. Audience expectations have shifted off the brands that they choose to invest in. Alternative formats such as branded partnerships can facilitate this growth and development between the brand and consumer.

Partnerships empower brands to directly talk to consumers with an authentic voice, building a relationship purely built through storytelling. Through a partnership, brands can show consumers what they stand for, by creating conversation and highlighting the brand personality. Recently we have seen Ben and Jerry’s stand alongside The Equality Campaign, taking a stand for gender equality. Australian’s can no longer order two scoops of the same ice cream, and this will be the norm until same gender marriage is legalised. With thanks to the power of social media, the thousands of likes, views, shares and retweets, have taken this to the world stage and is now trending globally.



Similarly, social media instantly spread the word of Red Cross’ partnership with Uber to pick up clothes for donation. Through the use of social media, including posts from high-end influencers, multiple news, lifestyle and fashion publishers picked up the story and made the country aware of the offering. Consumers could share an act of kindness with a simple touch of a button, resulting in a positive association with Red Cross and Uber.

Few could argue against emotional engagement being the best way to talk to your consumers. With social media playing such a dominant role in the reputation of brands, those at the helm will have to start guiding the social conversation they want their consumers to engage in through an authentic partnership.

Give consumers a reason to talk about your brand. Drive them towards it, not against it. Don’t let the years of building up your brand’s reputation get crushed within seconds.

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