Gone are the days when long-planned press releases sat between retailers and consumers. While there are benefits and challenges associated with the near-constant dialogue many brands now have with their customers, one thing is certain: Brands and retailers seems less mysterious and more accessible.
Whether it's a designer you feel you know because you see her at home with her kids on Snapchat or it's a retailer popping up with "sneak peeks" multiple times daily in your Instagram feed, these corporate entities have personalities that now are familiar.
As social media took off, brands aspired to be our friends. And now they are. As with our other friends, we want to know what they think. And we hope they're on our side.
It's awkward for companies to say they won't take a political stance for two reasons:
1. As we've told brands we care about "transparency" and "authenticity", they've pulled back the curtain in many ways. So why not do so on the most important issues, the ones we really care about?
2. What's happening today isn't "just" the political gossip of extramarital affairs nor the political bickering of Congressional pork-barreling. Today's issues aren't about politics; they're about human rights and civil rights and what's quickly becoming policy.
It's not okay to be silent. If companies are willing to tell us so much else, they should tell us where they stand before asking for our money and giving us a branded shopping bag so we can advertise for them as we carry it down the street. Maybe we'll like where they stand or maybe we won't. If they're not going to make a public statement, I hope they'll at least show support for their employees.
Initially, there was fear being attacked by President Trump would harm a business. Now, it's the opposite. But neither is sufficient reason not to take a stand. Again, this isn't just politics anymore.