YouTube makeup guru James Charles is a recent example of someone whose business bounced back from an extreme backlash. Days after a feud with another YouTuber, Charles lost millions of subscribers and stopped producing content. But after almost two months — including one 45-minute explanation video — Charles has regained the majority of his lost followers and has resumed creating videos.
From a marketing perspective, the way Charles handled it — the key being an apology that resonated with his followers — prevented his permanent loss of influencer status, said Krishna Subramanian, the co-founder of Captiv8, a marketing company that connects brands with influencers. Cancel culture is all about an audience trusting, or losing trust in, an influencer.
“Anytime an influencer does something to jeopardize that, and their audience creates backlash for something they’ve said or done, that starts to have a negative effect on their audience and that’s when a brand will walk away,” he said. “When you don’t address an issue head-on and an audience doesn’t believe your apology, that’s when things can spiral out of control.”