Should a brand follow social media trends?

An introspection on the Binjai Brew response to #BlackLivesMatter

Hi, I’m Rahul, one-third of Binjai Brew and the most defining work I do these days is to manage the Binjai Brew social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn (but nobody cares about our LinkedIn page). I create most of the content with our Instagram audience in mind, and as such, the Instagram account will be the main focus of this post.

I’ve come to realise that our Instagram account has become a sort of outlet for my alter-ego Binjai Brew personality. For those who know me personally, you’d know how little I post on my own Instagram, but having to keep up with regular posts on the Binjai Brew Instagram has forced me to become both content creator and content moderator. It is obviously much different from a larger brand that has a dedicated social media team to curate posts, maintain coherence, and have an approval process to vet posts before releasing them. That being said, I believe what we lack in sophistication, we make up for with authenticity, a willingness to put out content created within our current limitations, and poke fun at those limitations.

However, the degree to which the identity of Binjai Brew on Instagram is intertwined with my beliefs put me in a bit of a spot on 2nd June. As a reminder, it was the day #BlackOutTuesday was trending on social media. After much thought, I decided against posting a black square that day. I felt that posting a black square would not be a genuine advocacy effort on our part, and given that the majority of our audience would already be aware of the movement, we wouldn’t be creating any value if we posted the black square.

“The key is for companies to know who they are, and who their core stakeholders are, and what those stakeholders believe in.”

Fortunately, on this occasion, nobody seemed to question the absence of a post, but going through the experience made me more carefully consider the impact of personal beliefs on the Binjai Brew image on Instagram. Fundamentally, both me and my co-founder Heetesh are aware of the BLM movement,  we understand why saying “all lives matter” is insensitive, and as minorities in Singapore,  we can empathise to a certain degree what the movement is about. But I can imagine that there could be a time when taking a stand on an issue can become a point of contention among supporters of our brand.

Ultimately, as much as some people might take offence at what gets posted (or not posted) on our Instagram account, we also have to realise that the half-life of social media outrage can be quite limited. Instead of rushing to follow trends in a way that does not fit with our convictions, it is better to create a lasting brand identity by being guided by an unshakeable belief of what the brand stands for, and more generally what we believe in. To end off, I’d like to express my respect for the brands that are truly trying to make a difference in the BLM movement and those who are using their influence for good. It is our hope that one day we might be able to effect change on that level.

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