Social media completely changes the ways in which a brand can interact with their audience. Where before a brand or company would have needed to hold a press conference in order to release a message and then go through letters and responses that people sent in, now they can simply post a status update or even a press release on Twitter or Facebook and their audience will immediately know what is going on. Social media also gives the audience a way to interact with the company and make sure that their thought are heard immediately and not just down the line.
This is exactly what happened earlier this week when Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus announced that they would be pulling Ivanka Trump’s line from their stores. Both stores were subjected to calls from a boycott movement called #GrabYourWallet which tracked companies that have ties to president Trump’s business interests and encourages customers not to buy from these stores. Quickly after this list was released the hashtag took off on Twitter and it was soon mainstream news. Customers all over were calling for a boycott of these stores because they had any sort of tie to Trump. Soon after both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus both declared that they would stop selling Ivanka Trump’s line but stopped short of saying it was for political reasons. Both brands PR professionals claimed that the pull of the products had nothing to do with a political message they were trying to send but only had to do with the sales of that brand in the stores. They claimed that since last year the sales of this line had been steadily dropping to the point of it not being worth it to keep the merchandise on the floor. Here is the full statement that Neiman Marcus released after deciding to drop the line. Both companies are adamant that the pull of this merchandise was only based on performance, but it is obvious that they were feeling pressure from consumers to dump the brand.
This whole story is a great example of how social media can cause a crisis instead of solving it. Of course people would have still known that Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus were carrying Ivanka Trump’s brand either way when they went into the stores. But the reason that this issue spread so fast and the companies felt the need to stop selling the products so quickly was because of this movement that only took off because of social media. It is definitely possible that part of the reason is because the brand was not selling but social media really put the pressure on these companies to either stop selling the brand or lose customers. Without it customers would not have known to boycott these stores on such a large scale and the companies may never have noticed that people were upset about it.