Social networks that originally aimed to facilitate communication between people and create connections, have mutated into hostile spaces where intolerance, noise and lack of organization reign. We live in a world that changes drastically every day. We are bombarded with information that invades our personal digital spaces (timeline, wall, profile), with no other defense than our own criterion.
Nowadays communication on social media has turned into a real minefield and has become difficult and limited where anything can trigger the angry response of another person or group. This is especially true in the case of brands, because they actively court the public’s attention b promoting a world view intended to attract a particular segment to the brand.
An ill-conceived comment can impact negatively despite the best of intentions and offend or insult anyone regardless of their level of affiliation to the brand. The minefields that social brands now tread has forced brands to develop contingency plans to mitigate risk and employ politically correct language to minimize the risk of damaging its online reputation.
The dictionary defines the Politically Correct as “The avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of the forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize or insult groups of socially disadvantaged or discriminated persons”. That is to say, that communication nowadays should try to be fair and kind to everyone … which is VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE!
But political correctness should not be confused with social responsibility. Every company should be responsible at this level, adopting speech and actions that benefit its social context, regardless of the profits. Procuring a common good that is aligned with the values of the brand generates empathy with and strengthens loyalty of consumers which can result in increased sales and higher profits.
Like it or not, we all have the right to express our opinion (it is inherent to our very essence as humans as social beings) and not agreeing with another point of view doesn’t necessarily mean we are right and they wrong. The conflict arises from imposition, when someone believes that are morally or intellectually superior to those they argue against.
A well-known case in point is the recent public pressure on the NFL team, The Washington Redskins, to change its name and shield in 2015 due to its perceived lack of respect for Native Americans. In the end, the team refused to bow to public pressure, claiming that, “The fans understood the team’s tradition, what it is about and what it means”.
Advertising has the power and responsibility to change harmful social habits, nonetheless, brands must remain true to their values, rather than reacting to the pressure of political correctness. This does not mean that they should force the limits of what’s socially accepted, but that every decision must be weighed and analyzed on its own merits. Failure to do so may cause brand dissonance for customers who have bought into a brand’s overall positioning.
At Mijo! Brands, the leading creative digital marketing agency with presence in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta, we are aware that poor management in social media can destroy even the most solid reputation. We have an interdisciplinary and professional team to develop winning strategies to grow your digital reputation. Contact us today to learn hoe our team can make your brand the next digital rockstar.
Carlos Becerra is the Community Manager at Mijo! Brands. Carlos graduated from the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Communication. He has gained experience in different marketing tasks with direct customer service and considers his main strengths to be empathy and the search for creative solutions. He is a fan of stories whether it’s in digital or analog format, and he is also an animal enthusiast as evidenced by his dog Toto, adopted in distant lands (Mérida, not Kansas), and his cat Luis Miguel.