Insights

3 Ways To Avoid The Cancel Culture When Seeking Investment

Wednesday 17 November 2021

What does your online presence reveal about you? Have you ever stopped to consider how your social media history might be perceived by an investor or interested party? If you haven’t, it’s time to start.

As part of our due diligence when assessing a company for investment, we check your personal and professional social media footprint using artificial intelligence (AI) models which unearth customer sentiment, feedback, reviews and historical content of your posts.

 

Cancel culture

As human beings we mature, we learn, and our opinions change based on our life experience; but what happens if you’re an entrepreneur with a profitable business model and you approach an investor, only for them to reveal a skeleton in your online closet that makes them reject your application?

There is a strong “cancel culture” that has the power to ostracise or make life challenging for you if you have acted in a questionable or controversial manner. Your online history has the potential to ruin your career.

EHE is working with marketing consultant Nyree Trimbel who has great ideas around what to do if you are “caught out” by some unsavoury shares on social media (you can hear our full conversation on the EHE podcast Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Together). 

I wanted to know the consequences of an ill-thought-out post that’s visible online.

 

The consequences

Nyree: “There was a girl who got an internship at NASA and it was taken away before she started because of a tweet she had shared. Brands, businesses and investors will want to massively distance themselves from anything that could be seen as controversial. 

Even if investors agree that people make mistakes and would rather turn a blind eye, it will be very hard for them to commit to any ongoing business relationship that might result in a boycott. These are extreme examples but they do happen.”

At EHE we weigh up the results of our searches when we assess whether a person or company is the right fit; if there is an occasional negative comment or minor indiscretion, it’s unlikely to negatively influence our decision, but other companies might have a far stricter policy.

If you know or suspect that there is something online that might come back to haunt you, Nyree shared three tips to help you mitigate risk:

  1. Make it part of your brand. 
  2. Cleanse your digital footprint.
  3. Be more mindful going forwards.

 

Make it part of your brand

Nyree: “If you know you have things in your closet, then it’s wise to speak to a marketing or PR professional and ask them to review it. Many consumers love a “bad boy” or a “bad girl” who then turns good, and it might be advantageous to make it part of your brand story. Maybe you set up your business to help get you on the straight and narrow, and that would be an amazing story! We have lots of examples of brands and founders who have unusual stories that people fully support.

Investors and customers value honesty, so if you create the right context and keep moving forwards, eventually the other stuff will take a back seat.”

If turning your past into a good story is not an option, Nyree had a second solution.

 

Cleanse your digital footprint

Nyree: “It’s likely that whatever questionable posts or shares you have out there will be unearthed at some point. We can, to some extent, cleanse digital footprints so that future customers or investors are not turned off by something that you posted 15 years ago.”

It’s clear that your online presence can be used for or against you, so it’s worth considering this in the future, especially if you are building a personal brand.

Nyree summed it up perfectly.

 

Be more mindful going forwards

Nyree: “We know that a tweet sent ten years ago in a moment of madness can have catastrophic consequences to your business or employment. It’s really important to think about what you are posting, sharing and commenting on. Ask yourself what the implications might be if it was to resurface in another ten years; adopt a more cautious approach.

I get time-hops on Facebook that show me posts from ten years ago, and although there’s nothing controversial, I cringe at some of it because my outlook was very different to how it is now. 

Forewarned is forearmed, so start to be more aware of what you are sharing. High-profile characters have been caught out many times on video and there is a culture that enjoys people being called out. It’s important to build an authentic brand and stay true to that without crossing the line into being controversial or offensive.”

I hope this article has helped you to recognise that you need to take ownership of your past, consider how it might impact your future, and recognise that if you want to grow your business, you need to be the person you say you are and be consistent.

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