When trolls attack: Social media, crisis communication, and your personal brand

The past twenty-four months have illuminated the growing trend of everyone—from John Q. Public to the President of the United States—using social media as their unchecked megaphone. News that was once filtered and fact-checked through the major networks is now being directly communicated through social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn.

There have been many benefits in the rise of this brain-to-platform type of communication. Sections of the population who were once virtually silent now have their story articulated to the masses. It is debatable, but this type of communication has activated many who were once uninterested to become more politically and socially aware.

With all the forward progress we’ve seen, this change in our communication does come with some challenges that could directly affect your personal brand. Online attacks are not just reserved for large companies or organizations. Whether you are an athlete, celebrity, CEO, or Professional Services provider, your personal brand could come under attack with just a few key strokes.

Social media allows us to be our own publicist, and as such the content that we create and distribute must consistently articulate the narrative that we want conveyed. It’s more than just posting images from meetings and events, it’s about strategically creating the script of who we want the world to know. Architecting and effectively managing your personal brand will become key, especially in times of crisis.

That said, even when we quarterback the narrative, we must be ever vigilant about what others are saying. Always be watching and listening— there are many online tools to assist you. Learn to spot and do not take the bait from social media trolls. There will always be those who have something negative to say. Do not argue. Learn to identify legitimate issues and respond quickly and candidly. Pause any scheduled posts that may be waiting in the cue until the issue has passed. When possible, take the conversation offline.

Handling an attack on your personal brand can be stressful, but remember that how you respond and overcome the crisis is what matters. Use the power of your own created content as a tool to communicate who you are and get some good out of what could be a bad situation.

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