• M. Lloyd, Social Light

Your Brand And Call-Out Culture

When it comes to posting on social media during turbulent times, most brands are just trying to do the best they can. Navigating when to post, or even if they should, is a question that doesn’t always have a clear answer but after deciding, may be met with backlash from consumers.


In a time of political, social, and economic upheaval, the culture of social media is changing. Several reactions can come out of the woodwork whether a brand is or isn’t sensitive to any cataclysm occurring nationally or internationally.


If a brand DOES decide to post in solidarity with a just cause, social media users could believe it’s unprofessional and brand’s shouldn’t take a stance.


If a brand DOESN’T post anything in regards to solidarity or lack of solidarity with a just cause, users could assume that the brand doesn’t support the movement or those affected.


It’s quite the thin tightrope to balance on but if call-out culture finds you, here are some ways to navigate it.



Move Quickly, But Listen

We’ve seen it: even the most innocent, meant-to-be-harmless post from a brand on social media can turn into a meme, a hashtag, go viral, and be met with criticism.


If this happens to you/your brand, don't’ turn away; listen to them. What’s their tone? Are they asking for anything? What exactly are their concerns? Pull info about your brand: mentions, hashtags, analytics, and more, to understand the conversation that’s being had around you. Hear what your audience is saying. This should help you more easily develop an appropriate and genuine response.



Authenticity Is Key

We’ve mentioned this before in previous blogs. The more authentic you are, the more personable you are, the more connected consumers will feel to your brand. The same goes for crafting your response to a less-than-desirable social media rumble surrounding your brand.


  • 3 out of 5 consumers say that dishonesty from a brand will cause them to complain.

  • 55% of consumers call brands out on social media in hopes of a resolution.

  • Only 8% wouldn’t say anything if they recognized inappropriate behavior from a brand.


It’s safe to say that IF you find yourself in a sticky situation, you must try to understand and develop a sincere apology.

  • The “fauxpology” doesn’t work on social media. Consumers see right through it.

  • Your apology should not include the word, “but.” As Dr. Phil says, “'But' means forget everything I just said. Now I'm going to tell you what I really mean.”

  • Address the actual issue. Don’t beat around the bush or stray to another topic.

  • Humanize your brand by owning up to your mistakes.


It’s understandable that if your brand is a much larger business, the PR team, lawyers, and heads of departments may have to be consulted - also depending on the severity of the topic. However, in general, the above information is a good place to start.


A company's most recent blunder was experienced by Warner Bros. and their new film, "The Witches." Take a look below at the concerns that were expressed and how the film company responded:


“‘The Witches’ Faces Backlash for Portrayal of People With Disabilities, Warner Bros. Responds”


“The Paralympic Games' official Twitter account also tweeted, "Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised."”


“In a statement to ET, Warner Bros. said it "regrets any offense caused."


"We the filmmakers and Warner Bros. Pictures are deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in THE WITCHES could upset people with disabilities, and regret any offense caused," the statement reads.”


Click the link to read the full apology.


*Disclaimer: Social Light is not a PR company and is simply using the above as an example of an apology, not advising on crafting an apology.



Be Transparent

This could be difficult for some brands! If we’re being honest, the rigidness of brands on social media has loosened only within the last 5 years or so, therefore it still may feel like being totally transparent could be the wrong move. In many scenarios, it’s not.


People do know that a business isn’t magically run by a perfect machine. It’s humans behind the screen (most of the time), so your audience knows that as a business, you might make a mistake.


Recently, McDonalds took to Twitter to make sure everyone remembers that it’s actual people who run the social media accounts, and the responses were everything we ever needed:


Being transparent means there's a great chance of brand trust being regained. 89% of consumers said being transparent and taking steps to resolve an issue will regain trust and would make them feel more comfortable to purchase from the business again.


If you’re strictly a social media manager within a large group of people attempting to craft your next steps, let your voice be heard. This is your domain - you “do” social media daily, you interact with consumers on behalf of the brand. You know their voices, you know what they love and what they don’t love about the brand. You’ve got this.



Patience, My Friend

Recovering from an uphill social media conflict will take time. Apply social listening and keep track of your analytics to understand how your brand may trend over the next few weeks.


If the social media statistics and mentions aren’t looking good, don’t stress! Do what you can to improve the brand with the tools and allowances you have.



Taking a Stance

Some brands choose to take a stance for justice, and that is not wrong. Take a look at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They have a long history of supporting unlimited social justice causes and continue to thrive; maybe now more than ever? The odds are, the consumers that appreciate your brand voice will double down on their support of you.


If your brand decides to take a stand for justice, don’t sweat it. You may receive criticism either way. Remember...you’re not pizza. You can’t make everyone happy. Try to do the best you can, listen to your audience, and stay authentic and transparent.