Online consumer fury is futile – it’s far better to take a long view and hit firms in the pocket
Follow the money, not the hashtags – social media outrage is a distraction from the real corporate harm we should be confronting, says Iona in today’s column for the i paper
“Today, companies either ride out the storm, knowing the Twitter mob will move onto the next target soon enough, or make a few PR-driven concessions that rarely translate into sustained, meaningful change.”
— Iona Bain (@ionayoungmoney) September 1, 2021
So, what angry boycott are you currently taking part in? Oh, come on, you must have at least one righteous consumer stance you are adopting right now. Perhaps you are avoiding companies that advertise on the Right-leaning GB News channel – or those that have decided not to do so any more.
What about all those brands that support certain causes you don’t agree with on social media? Or don’t speak up when you think they should? Go online and you will find a new boycott born every hour, with social media users swearing they will never buy from a certain brand ever again.
Usually, it has something to do with the culture wars, which invite people to embrace or shun firms based on their approach to identity politics – ranging from Brexit to trans issues – and how they market their products.
No wonder social media and PR teams shudder the moment their paymasters start trending, quickly taking to their accounts to assure people they are in “listening mode” in case they are cancelled overnight.
But they need not worry. Social media angst does not reflect the day-to-day concerns of ordinary people. Most consumers are apathetic creatures of habit, paying little direct attention to what companies are doing. Just look at the energy and insurance markets.