By Nick Johnson - October 12th, 2010
OK, so social media's supposed to be a great tool for you to have a conversation with your consumers. Fine. But how much should you listen? Gap have been in the news recently. A week or so ago,...
OK, so social media's supposed to be a great tool for you to have a conversation with your consumers. Fine.
But how much should you listen?
Gap have been in the news recently. A week or so ago, they launched a new logo. It didn't get a very positive response, to say the least. There was a huge backlash, with more than 2000 negative comments on Facebook, and nearly 5,000 followers of the Twitter parody account, @gaplogo.
So Gap folded. Marka Hansen, president of the brand in North America, came out and said "We've been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back. So we've made the decision to do just that – we will bring it back across all channels."
At first glance, this seems pretty great of them, right? They've listened to their consumers, and they've made changes to their branding based on their feedback. This is corporate social media in action!
But is it as simple as all that?
In 2004 (the first year I could find figures for), Gap brought in revenues of $16.4bn. If we do some (very) basic calculations, and assume each customer spent $100 over the course of the year, that would give us 164, 000, 000 customers.
Gap changed their entire brand strategy because of a Twitter account with less than 5,000 followers? That's 0.003% of their customer base.
Is that sensible, really?
I'm assuming that Gap paid a branding agency an awful lot of money to come up with that logo. And if the agency were half decent, there will be an awful lot of reasons why they felt that Gap would benefit from this rebrand.
And it was obviously a persuasive argument to get Gap's top management on board.
So is it really so great that the company have now performed a complete volte face over an 'outcry' on Twitter and Facebook?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't you fire someone pretty much straight away if it came to light they were making branding decisions of enormous importance based exclusively on the opinion of 0.003% of your audience?
Social media is new and exciting for plenty of big companies. They are now more able than ever before to understand what their customers think of them, and react accordingly. That's a great thing.
But the danger is to ascribe too much importance to feedback on social media sites. Changing your entire brand strategy because of a joke twitter account with 5,000 followers? It doesn't seem to sensible to me.