Social media has become the preferred vehicle for the rise of consumer activism

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According to the Times “Over the last couple of years, social media has become the preferred vehicle for the rise of consumer activism, turning the everyday purchase of dresses or shoes or, now, renting a car or buying insurance, into a form of protest or demonstration of ideology. Marketing experts say it’s difficult to determine whether calls for boycotts can truly have an impact on a company’s business. Rather, they say, once-angry customers either forget or move on to the next event or debate”.

“As more and more companies sever ties with the NRA, we are once again reminded of the power that consumers can yield via social media. On Twitter, the hashtag #stopNRAmazon was a rallying cry aimed at pressuring Amazon to stop streaming content from NRATV, the gun group’s online video channel. The effort quickly drew support from Hollywood as actors like Alyssa Milano, Denis O’Hare, Evan Handler and Misha Collinsposted on social media in support of the campaign; several noted that Amazon prohibits the sale of firearms on its e-commerce site.”

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But just what’s important to consumers? Amazon.com is notorious for treating people who work at their warehouses poorly yet membership in Amazin Prime continue to climb. Still, in some cases, the rapid assembly on Twitter and Facebook may have resulted in a speedy response. In less than 24 hours, at least eight companies that had offered N.R.A. members discounts or special deals announced plans to separate or end affiliations with the organization.

Can brands really predict what will set consumers off? Not really, rather marketers need to understand that there is a lot of “frustration and anger” out there and consumers are ready to pounce on brand missteps as an outlet for their anger. Why march or write letters when you can join the social media activism with a simple hashtag?

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There is still a debate whether brands can remain neutral when it comes to social and political issues, but in an era where growth of sales is hard to come by and a couple of social media posts can lead to a drop in sales brands are going to have to become more responsive to what’s happening within our country. Sure, some brands may be immune to consumer activism via social media, but can you really wait to see what happens before you act responsibly?

Originally published at www.newmediaandmarketing.com on February 24, 2018.

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