We live in a world where maintaining a social media presence is essential but can be tarnished in a moment.

Understanding the online platform you engage in as well as the audience reception base is crucial; but what’s more important is keeping your cool when the public backlash rears its head.

Australian model Renee Somerfield is the body of Protein World’s “Beach Body” billboard and is the centre of a recent controversial advertisement.

The ad featuring the bikini-wearing, size 6 model asks commuters in stations around London if they are “beach body ready”.

You can only imagine the onslaught of accusations that followed online, blaming the company for promoting a certain image of women. The general consensus being that women shouldn’t have to step inside the skin of a size six to look and feel good.

Renee responded to the outcries maturely, explaining your reflection doesn’t define your worth. Protein World on the other hand, decided to take a slightly different approach to the situation choosing to antagonise its audience resulting in worsening their online reputation.

So what are the do’s and don’ts of responding to backlash on social media? How should corporations best handle an attack online? Here are some simple steps that one can follow when responding to an angry media mob:

The Do’s

  •  Care about your social media presence – choose wisely the platforms you wish to make commentary. In the end, who you are online can make or break your name.
  • Understand your audience – Connect to your audience and potential consumers to try to solve the issue rather than aggravate it.
  • Create a social media strategy – Plan plan plan, that’s all there is to it! Make sure the company as a whole agrees to how the situation should be handled online rather than having opposing comments and views which confuse audiences.

The Don’ts

  • Avoid profanity/vulgar language – Swearing online and at others doesn’t exactly scream “we’re a mature and well operated business who put your needs first!” Aggressive behaviour can never achieve results. Responding calmly and rationally helps to pacify the social media attack.
  • Don’t joke about serious points of view – Making humour and rude jokes on socially significant topics creates an image of the company of being both insensitive and puerile.
  • Avoid conflicting responses – Stick to one overall strategy on how to approach the backlash on social media. Conflicting reactions establishes insincerity and leaves audiences unclear on the corporation’s stance.

Following just a few of these points could ultimately see a business save face; surviving social media backlash means surviving the issue at hand.