We are living in an era of cancel culture. Where one misstep from a person, celebrity or brand can have you erased as someone of influence in seconds. In 2018, Edelman found 66% of users were willing to boycott a brand not because of the product but its stance on political and social issues. This was before ‘cancel culture’ was a term. It has only gone in one direction since.
Customer confidence has grown, and social media has given power to the masses. A drive for activism has meant brands are called out for not taking sides, whether in politics, religion, sustainability or even popular culture.
Those without an agreed concrete narrative will struggle to keep their reputation when a story breaks. Scrambling to prepare statements and positionings that do not reflect brand ethos or values when the narrative is viral and in motion will only serve to further damage rather than diffuse.
The rise of cancel culture
2020 was a hotbed for social unrest. Lockdowns drove society online and the court of public opinion became more powerful than ever. People have become impatient and have recognised the strength of their voice when it’s united.
As Gen Z enters the buying population, more people are looking for societal and political allegiances before they buy. For example, if I’m buying toothpaste, what is the impact of the toothpaste on climate change? The consumer wants to know.
No brand is excluded from cancel culture, even from the most loyal fans. We are all one scandal away from permanent reputation damage. So how can the risk be mitigated?
Manual analysis no longer works
More people have turned to the internet for information. Now brands need to be prepared to navigate the sheer amount of data produced online every second. As noted in Making Sense of Mass Mentions, having the right tools in place to monitor and manage content is essential.
Brands need to be more aware of the questions they are getting asked and not wait until the news hits the mainstream or goes viral. They must have evidence to show the commitment to back up what they are saying. The faster and sooner brands understand where the news came from: who, where, when and how, the impact can be assessed, and action taken.
This level of intelligence is not possible with manual data analysis. The scale of information to sift through makes it an enormous task, costing precious time, money and resources. Content is being generated faster than can be analysed with accuracy, and established media monitoring methods are no longer working.
Elevating monitoring with AI
For decades, sentiment analysis has been used to measure opinions, sentiment or stories. Although well established, it has significant flaws. Sentiment analysis forgoes the nuances of language, for example, geo-local, political, and cultural context. Identifying new trends and predicting future sentiment is not possible.
Marketers need to be thinking strategically about their media monitoring. Teams can leverage the modern capabilities of AI and other technologies to transform how they predict and stay ahead of narratives before they go viral or worse, get canceled.
AI can analyse data to identify narratives and determine stance at scale. Measuring stance over sentiment gives context to mentions and can decipher the intent behind the words. It can increase the quality of understanding conversations, perceptions, and intentions. AI can also identify the influencers driving these narratives, enabling counter-measures to be deployed before they hit mainstream audiences.
To spend more time on strategy and development, marketers have to spend less time on manual data analysis, and AI is the key to a competitive advantage when monitoring media.
The future of mass mention analysis
Cancel culture is becoming commonplace, and brands are being boycotted overnight. In today’s globalised world, social media serves to spread negative sentiment faster than ever. Marketers are constantly playing catch-up.
Developments in artificial intelligence are transforming how brands monitor narratives on social media. Stance is a more reliable method of analysis, providing accurate insights, predictions and recommendations for brands. With the risk of cancel culture higher than ever, catching stories before they break could be significant for brand survival.
This is a call to brands and marketers to shift how they monitor and interpret data to meet society’s demands. It’s time for marketers to get smart with how their monitor media and artificial intelligence is the answer.