Social media indeed plays an integral role in the lives of everyone in the day and age that we live in today. It serves as a platform for communication, both for consumers and businesses. Not only that, but it allows consumers to gather information and do research online. Social media also serves as an added platform for businesses to reach out to their consumers, through gathering feedback online or even additional online promotions exclusive to those that patron their online social media sites. Examples of such sites are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Despite such benefits, however we must ask ourselves: Is social media all that helpful? Indeed, social media brings to the table a whole new level of communication and information gathering. On the flipside, social media can also damage a company’s reputation and brand name if companies are not careful on how they utilize the media that they put up online. If they are not careful, they may tarnish their own brand name and it would become a declining brand that slowly no one will pay attention to anymore.
GAP and American Apparel
Gap is a prime example of how social media has led to its decline. It started out in 1969 by wealthy California real estate developer Don Fisher and wife Doris. It started out really successful, and even managed to expand out into many countries such as Canada and Cambodia.
Gap started to face hiccups in the media in 2000 and 2007, where they were accused of exploiting child labour in Cambodia and India. However, social media only came into play in 2010 where Gap began exploring online options in Canada and the United Kingdom.
The real downfall of Gap on social media was in 2012, where they launched an online advertisement during the period where Hurricane Sandy struck places such as Eastern United States, Bahamas and Eastern Canada. Together with American Apparel, their biggest mistake was launching the ad and tweet:
The above led to a lot of buzz and commotion among the consumers of the 2 brands. This portrayed the image of the 2 companies as insensitive, and that they were using the deaths and disaster as a springboard for further sales and revenue. Consumers even made the following tweets:
This advertisement, I believe, was one of the pitfalls of Gap. It attracted negative attention to itself via the use of social media, as their brand name was tarnished and seen as an insensitive heartless brand that takes advantage of the situation in order to earn more revenue. Another disastrous ad by Gap:
Of course it attracted yet another bulk of bad media towards Gap for not getting their facts straight. This, I believe has in one way or another contributed to the decline of Gap as consumers conclude from the failed ads that they are a brand that is inadequate, inaccurate and insensitive. And this, is how social media does more harm than good to a business.