12 February 2017

trump twitter

The power of social media is extraordinary – it is mobilising the masses and influencing the big brands in their decisions to follow the masses. Social media is ultimately driving huge change globally in every big brand. It has proven essential to harness in politics, at home and abroad.

We certainly live in changing times where aggression and intimidation still seem to play a part in big business and politics, however I can’t help thinking that the strongest voice and the one Trump is most likely to listen to is ironically from the ‘small’ people in society, who are now mobilising to stand up for what they believe in, voting with their credit cards, or in this case keeping them firmly inside their wallets.

The people are playing their Trump card.

Hearing Richard Branson speak on the news this week about his concerns over Trump’s leadership and how business leaders should speak out, I completely agree. It’s essential we have positive leadership in our countries home and abroad that listen to the masses. What is really intersting is the power the consumer has in today’s social-driven society where big brands are reacting and making key strategic decisions on the basis of not alienating their customers. 

Are the very same people who mobilised to put Trump into power beginning to show regret? Whatever your thoughts, whatever your politics, Trump will undoubtedly be feeling the commercial pressure. It takes decades to develop longstanding commercial relationships with the US retailers and only moments to fall like a house of cards when you lose their trust, as we have seen this weekend.

Both Kmart and Sears – two of America’s big retailers – have dropped Trump brands and Nordstrom have dropped Ivanka’s line. Sears denies any political motivation, instead quoting a drop in demand, however it is hard not to read into the political message this sends. Either way a drop in demand demonstrates the consumers are having their say in running these businesses. 

No brand is bigger than the customers they serve

No brand is bigger than the customers they serve

Branson calling for business leaders to be strong and stand against Trump’s policies is a brave move and hats off to Richard for speaking out. He is a man who has always had a close empathy with his customers and as such has become a customer services champion like no other business leader anywhere on the planet. My team chose to remove one of my blogs about Trump recently after I received numerous death threats in response to some fairly innocuous comments that questioned Trump’s decisions..

Politics aside, the fast-growing momentum of social media is a lesson to us all – especially to those of us in business. Not only do brands need to be participating on social networks to be part of the conversation – because you can’t influence a conversation you’re not part of – we need to be joining more conversations, leading them, driving positive change, before the change drives us.

There is a world of opportunity at our fingertips thanks to social media. It’s  clearly the single most important way to connect with the masses these days. It’s overtaking email and traditional marketing at a rate of knots. Customers are no longer engaged by marketing emails. Business to consumer, business to business; it doesn’t matter – business is now more about people to people than ever, and social media is the way that people connect emotionally and instantaneously. 

When it comes to Trump, ultimately, if he doesn’t moderate his behaviour and listen to his customers, he will end up facing serious challenges in his business. Is this weekend’s news that Sears and Kmart join the list of brands removing Trump’s products from their shelves the start of something much bigger?

An important part of leadership is about your ability to listen. I learned this from the best (Branson, Bloxham) and have blogged about this over and over again. Social media gives us the ability to listen enmasse. It’s early days in the White House for Donald Trump. As president with zero come back to an unpopular decision, there is no incentive to change direction. As a business man if you see your customers fleeing from your products and distributors to scared to stock and promote your products, you have to listen. Let’s hope we see some positive change, I think it’s inevitable. 

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