November 15, 2017

In the old days (try about two years ago) when it came to discussing political issues on your brand’s social media accounts, there was one prevailing message: DON’T DO IT! There was no surer way, the experts would tell you, to get rapid backlash against your brand and to lose customers.

Then, the 2016 election happened. Today more and more brands have made a habit of dipping their toes into the political pool. Sure, addressing social and political issues on social media can be a digital bear trap. But, for many businesses, it can also be a way to stand out from the crowd, affirm brand values and even reach new prospects.

Here’s four tips that will help you do it right.

1. Be true to your brand

First, and most importantly, know why your brand is on social media in the first place. From YouTube to Twitter, if you use social to keep followers informed of sales and new products, of course a post addressing a political issue is going to feel out of place. However, if you are more likely to engage customers conversationally, a political post might not seem that far out of the norm. And, if your brand regularly uses humor, humor is a great way to jump into politics as Reebok did when President Trump told French President Macron’s wife she was “In great shape…beautiful.”


2. Use facts and figures

It’s one thing to have an opinion. It’s quite another to have an informed opinion.

Don’t give into the temptation to simply sling views without reason. Mediums like Twitter are full of people/trolls with very loud, uninformed views. I think we can all agree: Most of the time, it’s a bad look. Instead, if you have reasons for your beliefs and can back it up with fact, even in this post-truth era you’re showing you have a reasoned, thought-out opinion. One extremely out of the box example is when Smart cars engaged a Twitter troll who said, mockingly, a bird’s poop totaled one of their cars.  

3. Don’t give in to kneejerk reactions

We’ve all been there. Something on social media or the news has us so steamed, we’ve got to tell somebody and tell them loudly and angrily—and in a way we’ll probably regret after a little reflection. Here’s the thing: When you have tweet remorse with a personal account, it’s something to laugh about. When you have it with a brand account, it’s a whole different ballgame. So pick your issues with your rational mind.

The immediacy of social media can lead to some really great campaigns and results. Oreo was the hit of an otherwise ho hum Super Bowl when it seized the moment with an unplanned tweet during the Super Bowl XLVII Blackout

It can also quickly amplify your mistakes. Make sure to think carefully about your post before you hit “publish.” Is it true to brand? Or are you just fired up?

4. Be prepared to live with the consequences

Good, bad and ugly, posts can take on a life of their own. It’s certainly possible to get a bad reaction, but the positives can outweigh the negatives, if social interaction is the right move for your brand. And, it might not be that big of a risk. Take women’s product manufacturer Always. They created insightful, fun spots about empowering girls to do more.

While these spots certainly speak to gender equality, they’re not a very risky move for a brand that specializes in products for women and, in fact, the spot received a ton of positive attention from men and women alike.

Making a stand doesn’t always mean taking a side. When Budweiser released this spot during the Super Bowl telling the story of its founder coming to the US, it read as a pro-immigrant ad in the face of President Trump’s crackdown on immigration. But, in reality, Budweiser never took a clear stance and benefited from telling their brand story in a unique and compelling way.

In other words, engaging with political issues doesn’t always have to mean being yea or nay; it can be as simple as showing consumers that you’re sensitive to what’s happening in the culture around you. Whether it’s a video spot on YouTube or a tweet, engaging social issues can help keep your brand relevant.


About the author: IanM

Micah Riecker has been 6AM Marketing's Copy Jedi and Chief Wordsmith since June of 2016. A graduate of Knox College, the University of Illinois and Madison College, he specializes in using copy to wake up tired advertising concepts.

Post tags:Strategy

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