Social media has been growing rapidly in its size and scope and impact for several years. But just recently it seems to have reached a tipping point: businesses must address and deal with social media or else. Maybe the timing has to do with the movie “The Social Network” which is exposing social media to a new audience. Maybe it is the sheer number of users. Maybe it is related to the fall of the traditional newspaper – due in part to the rise of social media – and the fact that more and more news stories are generated by, first reported on, and most discussed via social media networks.
For example, earlier this month, the GAP unveiled a new logo design after having the same logo for more than 20 years:
A website was launched within hours that poked fun and allowed visitor to make their owner versions. It was called “Crap Yourself Logo” and it already has thousands of “likes” on Facebook. Other groups formed on Facebook to allow users to express their dislike of the logo, and they gained thousands of followers within a day or two. Within a week, Gap announced that it would scrap the new logo. Gap did not communicate well with fans about the release of the new logo and its background.
From a branding perspective, I’m not sure why Gap would want a new logo in the first place. Their history, and their loyalty from consumers, is powerful (as the logo fiasco demonstrates). If you are going to re-brand and try to communicate a new message to consumers, you must be careful not to alienate the customers you have.
On the positive side, Gap did the right thing by reacting quickly to revert to the old logo. See their press release here. [Some cynics claim the whole thing could have been planned - look at all the publicity Gap got from it!]
Lesson: The GAP Logo story shows the power of social media. Ignore it as a business owner, and the next lesson may be yours. If you do not have a social media strategy, your competition is gaining on you daily. If you don’t get a grip on the power of social media – and the legal issues it creates – it may get a grip on you.
Bonus: I was recently interviewed by Ira Wolfe discussing issues related to the legal and intellectual property risks with Social Media. The audio is here, and here is a summary of the interview: Is your company’s intellectual property is protected? How does social media put your business at risk? Who owns the LinkedIn connections of a recruiter or salesperson when they leave your company? Attorney Erik Pelton, founder of Erik M. Pelton & Associates, discusses steps to identify I.P. and notify others about it, and why intellectual property is one the hand easier than ever to create, and on the other hand easier than ever to steal. The discussion included some steps employers can take to create policies that will help ensure that the company’s intellectual property is accounted for and protected.