How and When Brands Should Chime in on Important Issues Such as #MeToo

It's not easy, but there is a correct way to go about doing it.

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How and When Brands Should Chime in on Important Issues Such as #MeToo
Image credit: Getty | Entrepreneur
5 min read

As a brand, knowing how and when to chime in on an important political, social or cultural discussion is difficult. The entire world is watching, so you’ve got to choose your words -- and/or actions -- wisely.

Businesses hold tremendous power and influence. That’s why it’s more important than ever to understand the right way to join in on a sensitive conversation. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a number of major movements and initiatives take shape and quickly escalate with the power of social media. Take the recent #MeToo, which went viral after scores of prominent women spoke out over alleged sexual harassment by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Related: What to Consider Before Your Brand Takes a Stand Politically

Of course, the matter was much larger than Weinstein, and the #MeToo campaign showed how major of an issue sexual harassment is worldwide -- in every industry.

Yet, when it comes to sensitive issues, it can be difficult as a brand to know whether to say or do something, and then on top of that what exactly that should be. Recently, after #MeToo began to grow, social media analytics and monitoring platform Talkwalker saw how much traction and growth the campaign was getting and how important of a topic it was, as well as an opportunity to show consumers that as a brand it cared too. Using the data the company compiled about the campaign, it revealed in a tweet how widespread and effective #MeToo was.

Brands often jump into conversations and become distractions, rather than help. However, Talkwalker not only found a smart way to use its platform, but also to further the conversation. So to understand how and when companies should chime in on important political or social issues, we asked Talkwalker CEO Todd Grossman for his insights.

Here are Grossman’s five pieces of advice on how and when brands should join in on important conversations.

Related: Heineken's Ad Shows Pepsi the Right Way to Get Political

1. Don’t do it just because.

"It's important not to chime in on a sensitive issue just because you can. It needs to be productive in nature. That's what brands should really think about before they contribute to a conversation. They might want to open dialogue about their internal policies, for example, that support women and what they can do better in hopes to change."

2. Watch for trending topics, especially from influencers.

"We've seen social media movements, such as Black Lives Matter and Take a Knee. Through our platform, we're able to see trends very quickly before things really start to accelerate. We started seeing [#MeToo] posts being updated every couple of seconds, and just in the first day we saw approximately 750 results and it continued to grow to 1.4 million results [Wednesday]. We started seeing things not just taking off in the United States but in the United Kingdom, Canada, India, France, and then we saw some really big tweets that were going viral from Lady Gaga, Monica Lewinsky and Elizabeth Warren.

"When you have celebrities and high profile people contributing to the conversation, this creates a broad societal issue and tends to spread like wildfire."

3. Listen first.

"Brands need to listen first and contribute where it makes sense in an open, transparent way. And they should not try to think in any way because they will be sniffed out immediately by the general public. The general public is too savvy and smart."

4. Learn from the past.

"If [brands] want to be [a] part of these conversation[s] and contribute in a positive manner that could ultimately help their brand or the general public, they need to be a student of this type of approach and see where it has worked and where it hasn't worked. And get that experience to be able to [have] that instinct based on previous insight on what they can contribute to."

Related: 5 Rules of Branding That Will Make You A Sought-After Superstar

5. Show you have a personality.

"Brands have an opportunity to contribute to the conversation in a positive way that can open a dialogue and show that the brand has a personality more than just trying to shove a product down their throat. Brands can really be that personality that can be humanistic and have feelings. If brands can do more from the heart and do the right thing, they'll be accepted more by the general public in contributing to movements like this."

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