Will we ever learn from our mistakes?

As we watch businesses and executives make the same unethical blunders over and over again, it sometimes seems like the answer is a resounding “No.”

A recent example of this comes from Purely White, a teeth whitening company. All it took was one negative — but viral — TikTok social media video from a single influencer for total brand destruction to follow.

On September 4th, social media influencer Faith Ordway posted a video alleging that the company refused to pay her after she did a video promotion for them. In her video, she states that they wouldn’t pay her because “the ad did not perform as well as they would’ve liked it to.” But this is not how influencer marketing works — contracts or not, she did the agreed-upon job, and Purely White should have paid her for it.

Never Underestimate The Power of Social Media Influence

As of this writing, the exposé video has over 2.5 million views, over 482,000 likes, nearly 5,000 comments, and 69,500 shares. That’s a lot of people who could have become new loyal customers had Purely White just paid Ordway; instead, they’re now active and loyal haters of the brand.

But that’s only the beginning.

Ordway’s supporters didn’t just trash the brand in the comment section of her video — they went beyond TikTok to Purely White’s Facebook and Instagram pages, filling them with negative reviews and comments about their failure to pay the influencer.

What Businesses Can Learn From This

In social media, the people have the power — and if they get even a whiff of what they deem unethical behavior, they will rally together to #cancel that business. Purely White is the perfect example of this.

What can be done to avoid their fate?

  • Deliver what was promised — whether it’s customers, employees, or contractors.
  • Don’t engage in criminal activity. It might seem obvious, and yet it needs to be said.
  • Don’t commit human rights violations. This would include discriminating against anyone for their skin color, religious beliefs, gender, political affiliation, and so on.

Simply put, steer clear of unethical business practices.

As one of the most valuable tools a business has, an online reputation must be protected. It’s far costlier to have a bad reputation than it is to take the effort to build and maintain a good one.

Don’t find out the hard way why ethics is the key to reputation management — learn from Purely White’s mistake. Unethical behavior is like a lightning rod for scandal; don’t be that lightning rod.