The success of any business – from banks to online shoe stores, including social media influencers, hinges on their authenticity. In order to connect and relate with an audience, a genuine sense of sincerity needs to be identifiable in both their actions and the topics they choose to talk about.
The bushfires that have spread across both Queensland and NSW have affected families, homes and wildlife in a devastating manner. As the wider Australian community have taken to social media platforms to raise money and awareness towards the catastrophe at hand, it’s clear that many influencers and brands saw it as an opportunity to capitalise on the natural disaster to build their following and generate business.
Rather than taking advantage, such events are an opportunity to demonstrate the ethics and values of a brand by positively contributing without an exchange or financial gain in mind.
Capitalising on Tragedy
Social media platforms are an excellent way to promote and create funding for those effected from a crisis.
In the recent fires, some social media influencers have taken the opportunity to affiliate themselves with both charities and public services such as the NSW Rural Fire Service that seem to exploit a tragedy for their own personal gain.
For example, promises of donating a small fraction of their proceeds generated towards helping those effected by the crisis is viewed as a cheap trick in order to boost profits.
In order for either a personal or business brand to affiliate themselves appropriately with a crisis, there needs to be a genuine sense of compassion without seeking a return.
Hashtags are a great way to connect with others on social platforms towards current topics of interest. A technique to build followers quickly is to jump on a hashtag that is trending, so you get a bunch of viewers that following the hashtag not you.
Throughout the bushfire crisis, both personal and business brands have shared posts such a ‘bushfire sunsets’ or ‘lazing by the pool’ using hashtags such as #australianfires, #climatechange and #nswfires.
This is extraordinarily inappropriate and distasteful, where individuals and brands use a hashtag to build clout towards themselves, rather then raising awareness to the problem and real issues.
The success of an influencer relies heavily on how authentic they are viewed within the public eye. Consumers want to be affiliated with a brand that appears to be conducting themselves in a socially responsible manner.
It goes without saying that presenting a personal or business brand with a genuine ethical mindset is key towards connecting with your audience.
How effective an influencer or brand is largely depends on how they interact with an audience, specifically the language they use to convey their point.
The choice of words should reflect the mood of the situation, whichever shape that may take. Particularly when associating with a crisis, words such as “excited” or “fun” should not be used in connection to a current event where individual lives and homes are at risk.
This displays a lack of empathy towards a serious issue and can been seen in a negative light by consumers. Crisis’s such as bushfires need to be approached with a great deal of compassion and respect. This needs to be done without seeking a form of return in exchange, but using the situation to demonstrate the ethical values of the brand by contributing positively and truly helping people, animals and charities to navigate a devastating situation, not for gain, but because it’s the right thing to do.