A whole week has passed since most of us witnessed what happened at the 94th Oscars awards night.

Both individuals at the center of the controversy, are celebrity influencers and in the days that have followed both social media and the traditional media have kept us updated on opinions about the issue. That of influencers included.

How about we explore a few lessons that could be learned, from the entire situation from an influencer reputation management standpoint.

You are not immune

In the week following the event, I came across a friend’s Facebook post regarding cancel culture (boycotting an artist when they step out of line, according to societal standards). She argued that while artists should be held accountable for their actions, their art should not suffer the same. While her argument made sense, it will take a while for the world to catch on to this. This is because, unfortunately, people rarely separate art from the person.

No matter how big or small you are, your community also holds you in high esteem. Don’t be deceived, being an influencer does not absolve you from critique, if anything it places you at the very center of it. This is why it is important to be mindful of how you present yourself to your community, and always ensure that it aligns with your brand values. You do not need to conform to what anyone needs you to be, but when you decide to be perceived in a certain light, make sure you are sticking to that narrative; while remaining authentic.

Be careful what you lend your voice to

After the event, most influencers had an opinion. Some tried to make light of the situation, which their community did not care for, while others jumped on the bandwagon to remain relevant, again, their community saw through it, some also came across as tone-deaf for commenting on an issue they had little to no understanding of and best believe, they received a lot of backlash for this.

Priscilla Aseye Febiri: Influencer reputation management - 5 lessons every Ghanaian influencer must learn

So, what is the point here? Simply put, your voice does not need to be heard across all topics for you to be relevant. It is important to cultivate a sense of discernment. Assess subjects matters before you add your voice, ask yourself; does this add value? Do I know enough to speak on this matter (by way of cultural or social association)? Or could this affect my reputation? Your community has stayed with you long enough because you have aligned interests, once you’ve identified them, speak on these and be cautious of joining in conversations that have the potential to mar your image. In short,find yourself a niche and stay in your lane.

Stay Professional

It takes a lot of self-restraint to remain professional, especially in this space. As an influencer you will always have negativity coming at you from all directions, how you respond is what matters. Your response must be free from; violence, sarcasm (particularly if you do not know the person), and insults.

Also, choosing not to respond to negative troll-like comments is often the best way forward. You also have the block button, the beauty of some social media platforms, if you think your peace is disrupted, use it.

Take responsibility when you are wrong

We do not hope for bad circumstances, but in the rare cases, where you are at fault, accept responsibility for the role you played. Do this from a place of sincerity because of course, the discerning public would know when it’s just for show.

Two things with different reactions can happen; You will drag your name in the mud if you decide to remain unapologetic and when you decide to remain silent you still communicate a lack of sensitivity to issues that your community holds in high regard. When the bible said, a good name is better than riches, I bet it never crossed your mind, it would apply to matters concerning influencer reputation management.

Trend Wisely

During a crisis, as we have witnessed, you will trend for a few days, weeks, months, or even years, but what use is this if you are trending for all the wrong reasons. Remember that you work with brands that also have a reputation to uphold. Associating with influencers whose values do align with their brand image, is not in their best interest.

No PR person would be pleased to clean up. So dear influencer, before you react, ask yourself, is the goal to trend or to provide value? only one of these options will consistently give you a longer shelf life in your market of choice.

In a nutshell, as an influencer, your reputation precedes you and should be at the forefront of every decision you make.