As the world increasingly moves online, activism too has moved from the streets to digital channels.

While it brings great opportunity for everyone to ‘be the change’, for businesses and organisations on the receiving end of an online campaign, it can be pretty overwhelming.

Many don’t have the resources, processes or structures in place to manage an orchestrated and highly-targeted online attack.

Activist groups have transitioned well to online campaigning. They’re well connected, well coordinated, and take the time to train their supporters and equip them with the right tools to deploy quickly and easily.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of an online campaign, there are a few basics to get on the front foot.

1. Know your strategy

It sounds obvious, but don’t simply respond in an ad hoc way. Have a plan that outlines up front how and when you’ll respond and what you’ll say.

2. Streamline your approvals processes.

An agreed plan and messaging speeds things up but there will always be the unexpected that needs the ok. Avoid approval by committee so you can act quickly and get the information out the door.

3. Choose your online battles.

We’ve all witnessed trolls and the social media ‘pile on’. Answer questions politely, correct misinformation with facts, direct people to credible sources of truth, then walk away. The troll may keep responding but others can see your post and may appreciate the information or even change their view. It can and does happen.

4. Review your channel housekeeping rules.

Customers asking questions about your ethical business practices is only fair, but posting disinformation and attacking your reputation with lies is not. You have every right to remove or block people who fall into the latter. Just make this clear up front.

5. Take the time to listen to your customers.

It’s crucial if you want to keep them and improve your business. If they care enough to take action, it means there are likely many more out there with similar views. Making a few changes and taking some steps in a different direction shows you’ve listened, and can go a long way to maintaining your reputation.