Are we living in the ‘Age of Rage’?
Do we find ourselves in a world where brands are walking a tightrope between caution and courage? In our latest episode of the iP Talks podcast, Instinctif’s Senior Advisor, Dr Mark Thorpe and Managing Partner, Kim Polley delve into the intricacies of the outrage economy, shedding light on how brands can skilfully navigate this challenging landscape.
Understanding the Age of Rage
Kim highlighted how the digital age has transformed communication, offering unprecedented access but also ushering in a culture of performative outrage. She discussed the consequences of the relentless quest for social media engagement, where even the smallest perceived offense can spark a firestorm of overreaction. Stanford University’s research on digital addiction underscores how society’s intolerance and quick-trigger responses on social media contribute to this phenomenon.
Performative Indignation in the Digital Age
The concept of performative indignation was a key focus of the discussion. Kim explained that in the pursuit of relevance and validation, individuals actively seek slights or problems to address. Social media provides a platform for them to express anger, generating a sense of community and importance.
The Pervasiveness of Anger
Kim and Mark explored why anger has become the predominant emotion in the digital age. Kim attributed this to a rapidly changing world, heightened emotiveness, and the immediate outlet provided by social media. Economic uncertainties, geopolitical conflicts, and technological advancements contribute to a state of constant anger, fuelled by the ease of expressing discontent online.
Communications Strategies in the Age of Outrage
Kim emphasised the need for caution and transparency, advising against overreacting to online controversies. She suggested that brands should acknowledge faults, commit to accountability, and take tangible steps toward positive change. The importance of transparent, honest, and consistent communication emerged as a key theme.
Proactive Reputation Resilience
Kim stressed the significance of proactive reputation resilience strategies. By investing in cultural intelligence, scenario planning, and crisis communication, brands can weather storms of temporary public backlash without long-term reputational damage. Understanding stakeholder ecosystems and being open about successes and failures are crucial components of this resilience.
Practical Crisis Management Tips
In the event of a crisis, Kim outlined a structured approach involving quick fact-finding, proportionate responses, and media engagement. She highlighted the value of creating content that addresses questions, providing context to prevent misinterpretation by the press.
The discussion concluded with insights into the future, emphasising the need for organisations to acknowledge and adapt to the culture of outrage. Kim urged brands to find a balance between caution and courage, navigating the shifting landscape with empathy, understanding, and a sense of conviction.
For a deep dive into the conversation and more insights on managing outrage in the digital era, check out the full episode. Stay tuned for more thought-provoking discussions on IP Talks!