It’s a common scenario in our super-critical social media community. Online lynch mobs are at the ready, waiting for brands and businesses to put a toe out of line. One minute everything’s dandy. The next it feels like you’re running for your life with your tail between your legs.
Bad news has always traveled fast. These days it’s supersonic. Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has turned into a news-spreading machine. Posting is instant, with brands expected to post considered responses to events and queries, right now. Which is often part of the problem - people react or post without thinking. Then they realize their mistake and click ‘delete’, but it’s too late. The Tweet has already been retweeted thousands of times, living forever in the Twittersphere.
It’s no wonder people end up throwing process out the window to keep up with the lightning-fast pace of public discourse. Just one Tweet, one comment, or even retweeting or liking the wrong post can get you sent to the social media sin bin. Brands and individuals are hounded so badly when they mess up, it can sometimes be hard to return.
According to Jon Ronson, author of ‘So You’ve been Publicly Shamed’, nowadays, people get "humiliated to a degree that would have been thought excessive even in the 18th century." A social media study by Demos mapped UK Twitter users over a three-week period, and found 6,500 unique users were targeted by 10,000 explicitly aggressive and misogynistic Tweets.
But when it comes to social media shaming, does it always have to end in Twitter tears? When you get hit by a wave of backlash, is it possible to turn things around? Surely there’s room for redemption if you take the correct steps to make things right. We explore this notion in part two.