It doesn’t only affect companies or well-known influencers; it can also happen to small accounts—it’s the infamous shitstorm. If you find yourself in the middle of such a storm on Instagram, YouTube or any other platform, keep calm! We give you five tips that you can use to master a crisis with confidence.
Not everything is always rosy on social media, as you have probably noticed. It may not have happened to you yet, but you have certainly seen what happens when an angry mob of followers has descended upon another account. Be it about influencers travelling around despite the Covid-19 pandemic, gossip between celebrities or controversial marketing campaigns, sometimes you know in advance that a post or video on a certain topic could trigger heated discussions in the comments.
Sometimes, however, the shitstorm happens quite unexpectedly. You think nothing about a post, and within a few hours, your mailbox is overflowing, your comments are blowing up, and tensions are running high.
We will now give you five tips to be well-prepared as an influencer for a shitstorm so that you can keep a cool head in both cases.
Tip #1: Take a deep breath and stay cool
Even though you as an influencer should react quickly to a situation, don’t be too hasty. Responding impulsively to angry comments while typing things you do not mean is not the best solution. If you feel attacked or even insulted, you tend to react in a snotty way and respond accordingly. Such a reaction would only fuel the fire, so first try to take a deep breath and stay calm. Think carefully about how you want your followers to see you and which statement you would like to make. Try to find an activity that will calm you down first; be it with a short phone call with a friend or a quick run around the block. Afterwards, you will be calmer and certainly able to face the shitstorm in a much more level-headed manner.
Obviously, you should not completely disappear and hide from the heated discussion. Your followers know that you, as an influencer, read all the comments and expect you to take a stand even in critical situations.
Tip #2: Take a stand in the storm
When you feel ready, it’s time to take a stand. You should not delete your sensitive post unless it violates certain rights. But as a rule, simply deleting is the worst strategy.
Think in advance which opinion you would like to express: Do you stick to your statement? Or do you agree with the comments because they have shown you that your post is inappropriate? Do you even want to apologise? However, you should not parrot someone else’s opinions but stay true to yourself as an influencer.
Depending on how extensive the flood of comments on Instagram or YouTube is, you as an influencer should consider writing an extra post or recording a statement video. On Instagram, you can speak to your followers in your Story during the shitstorm and reply in the comments section. It can be tedious to answer every single comment; therefore, you can refer to your Instagram Story or new video. Save the Story as a highlight so that your statement doesn’t disappear after 24 hours. Alternatively, you can also pin a comment below the post that triggered the shitstorm. This way, all your followers can read what you have to say.
What can also be helpful is to deactivate the comment function after a while. You can do this on YouTube as well as on Instagram. If everything has been said and the comments just keep repeating themselves, it is unnecessary for angry comments to keep coming in days later. If you’ve already written a statement, there is no need to roll it out again. But don’t use this function to nip the discussion in the bud because it may look as if you wanted to cover up or censor something.
Tip #3: Exchange with your followers
See the shitstorm as an opportunity to rebuild trust with your followers. If you handle the crisis well, you may even gain more reputation as an influencer because you set a good example with your confident reaction. Listen to the arguments and criticisms and thank people for their honest opinions and food for thought. An objective discussion can significantly flatten a shitstorm. If you realise that you have made a mistake, you can state what you will do differently in the future. Your followers will certainly appreciate your insightful behaviour.
Even if it can be tedious, you should avoid writing copy-paste answers as much as possible. Your followers are more likely to feel taken seriously if you reply to them personally than if you write the same reply under every comment. To make the whole thing a little easier for you, you can refer to your Story, statement video, or post where you explain everything. That way, you don’t have to explain yourself every time.
Tip #4: Don’t put up with everything
If you handle and accept criticism with confidence in a shitstorm, your followers will appreciate you for it. Dealing with insults appropriately can benefit you as an influencer. If you are good at countering, there is nothing wrong with posting a quick-witted line in response to someone’s particularly original insult. However, you should never respond to insults with another insult but always remain level-headed. Alternatively, simply ignore baseless insults because a fruitful discussion would not arise there anyway.
If, however, insults towards you or others go too far below the belt, you should take action. In a shitstorm—or anywhere else for that matter – you don’t have to put up with everything. Crude insults and threats are never appropriate. In this case, you can point out the netiquette to the person. If someone repeatedly posts insults under your posts, you can delete the comment directly and reserve the right to block them. Even if it is clear that the person is just a troll who only wants to provoke, you can block the troublemaker. However, use the block function carefully so as not to annoy your followers further.
And of course, the same applies to the Shitstorm: You can report illegal content. At Online Harassment Field Manual, you can find out how to report insults on social media.
Tip #5: Learn for the future
Once you’ve been through a shitstorm, the experience will help you in the future as an influencer. When you look back on what happened, you may see what went well or poorly and can determine what you would do differently. You might even come out of the storm stronger and not as a victim. You can turn something negative into something positive!
Depending on what triggered it, you may want to change certain behaviours in the future and be more transparent with your followers. One of the latest examples of transparent behaviour is probably influencer Ariella Nyssa from ariellanyssa, who has undergone breast reduction surgery. Instead of hiding the procedures and thus risking rumours and a shitstorm, she takes her followers with her from the start and makes the operation the topic of her content.
We hope that you now feel well-prepared for a shitstorm as an influencer!