Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Importance of Social Media in Business

The great thing about social networking is its ability to connect people without boundaries. We can catch up with friends, find business contacts, meet people with similar interests, and so on. For a lot of users of social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, it is very satisfying to have a large number of ‘friends’ or ‘followers.’ What many people forget is that just as in the real world, it takes time and effort to make any relationship work. It isn’t enough to simply have 478 friends on Facebook and say you’re ‘networked.’ It isn’t enough to follow key people on Twitter and say you’re involved. It takes more than that. It takes being proactive and making the most of your connections.

One of the recommendations I have is for people to pick one friend, follower, or contact every day and send them a brief note. Make it personal and relevant to that person. It will show them that they are more than a number, a contact, or a member of a group. They are important and relevant to you, and thus, you become to them. We used to preach to our clients about making sure your goodwill bank account was full for when a crisis hits to help manage bad news or a branding black eye. The same can be said for keeping your networking in order. If you’re looking for a job, a client, a referral, a friend, or anything from someone else, when you need it is the worst time to try and fire up a relationship. Building relationships is key to developing a true relationship.

Just because technology has made it much simpler for us to stay connected, it has also made it easier for us to be ignored. Make a difference to someone else, and they will make an effort for you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gap Inc. Screws up New Logo

Gap Inc. abandoned a new logo after consumer criticism and will revert to the blue-square emblem that has been featured in its marketing for more than 20 years.

The clothing retailer released a redesigned logo on its website Oct. 4 and had planned to roll it out in marketing campaigns starting next month. More than a thousand people left comments on Gap’s Facebook page, a majority of them disparaging.

“We’ve learned a lot in this process,” Marka Hansen, the Gap brand president in North America, said yesterday in an e- mailed statement. “We are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing.”

The new logo set the Gap name against a white backdrop, with a blue square in the upper-right corner. Gap, which owns Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta, has been updating its clothing lines and stores to appeal to so-called Millennials -- consumers in their 20s and early 30s. The logo change was part of that evolution of the brand from “classic, American design, to modern, sexy, cool” Louise Callagy, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Gap, said last week.

Two days after the logo release, Gap responded to the outcry on its Facebook page, welcoming design suggestions and calling it a crowd-sourcing project.

‘Different Way’

“We’ve learned just how much energy there is around our brand, and after much thought, we’ve decided to go back to our iconic blue box logo,” Callagy said yesterday in an interview. The change will take place starting today, she said.

Chief Executive Officer Glenn Murphy has focused on the Gap brand since he joined the company three years ago, part of a bid to revive growth. Sales at Gap stores in North America open at least a year have declined six straight months, including a 1 percent drop in September, while Old Navy and Banana Republic have made gains this year. The parent company hasn’t increased annual sales since fiscal 2005.

“There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way,” Hansen said.

There are better ways to invest your time in changing your marketing strategy.

Gap rose 44 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $18.71 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have dropped 11 percent this year.