#KeepingCRESocial by Sarah Malcolm: 6 Ways to Approach Controversial Topics on Social Media
BLOG POST BY SARAH MALCOLM, CHIEF DIGITAL STRATEGIST AT THE NEWS FUNNEL
The word controversial alone causes companies to cringe. They want their clients and prospects to associate positive feelings with their company, and they believe that touching any controversial topic will shatter all of this positivity they’ve worked hard to build. However, that just isn’t true.
While there isn’t a load of controversy surrounding the commercial real estate industry, it is impossible to entirely avoid all debates if you plan on interacting with people in a social media forum. At some point, you’re going to find yourself faced with a topic that is sure to provoke strong feelings throughout audience members in one way or another. Here are six ideas for your company to handle disputes on social media.
Engage in Honest Discussions
The importance of honesty gets magnified in the context of a controversial discussion on social media. Personal feelings are intensified, and people are more keen to recognize dishonesty or hypocrisy, usually to strengthen their claims. If your company finds itself in question, be ready to support your stance in a transparent and honest way.
Act on Passions
Studies show content is more likely to go viral when they inspire emotions with a surge of energy--aka controversy. When the audience senses these high emotions, they feel more compelled to act. Your company needs to be ready to engage with these emotions in only the most professional manner.
Timing Is Everything
You have to put out feelers for when a controversial discussion will have the most significant impact on the public without seeming to be very opportunistic. Knowing when is as important as knowing how to engage your audience. Posting too early could look like an attempt to capitalize on an issue without any substantial thought behind your stance. If you wait until it’s too late, people are over it.
Highlight User-Generated Content
Inviting users to create their content and submit it through social media is a trend that has been gaining traction in recent years. It’s a way for clients to feel like they are actively involved in the branding story of your company, and it can be a portal to controversial discussions as well.
Show Pride in Your Values
A company is made up of many people with many different opinions, but that doesn’t mean the company as a whole can’t share cohesive values. Most companies aren’t entirely apolitical, but there isn’t a client expectation for them to be. Not everyone will take the same stance as you, and that’s okay. It’s just critical that you don’t walk back on your position or else you risk alienating your core audience who supports your values.
Listen to Your Audience
One of the best things about controversial topics is they get people talking. And when customers are talking, good businesses are listening.
Creating a conversation around controversial topics can have many benefits for a company, and it’s brand awareness, loyalty, and revenue. There is a potential for a slip, and not everyone will like what you have to say. However, it is possible to have honest conversations on social media platforms that engage the audience in ways that would be impossible if you decided to sidestep the issue altogether.
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