Ivanka proves that social media branding isn’t enough

Experts in any industry or field can be blinded by their own perspective. Problems are viewed only through the narrow lens of their own background. Ask a military advisor how to address the problems in the middle east and they’ll give you one answer, a diplomat another, a businessman another. Even an environmentalist will draw the link between environmental events like drought and war. So who is right? The answer, none of them and all of them.

When it comes to social media strategy, experts may fall into a trap and believe that social media is the most important factor in determining reputation. Great social media can enhance and strengthen a reputation while providing companies and nonprofits with a way to engage with their base. But no matter how great the social media strategy, it cannot replace a damaged image. Public perception is always holistic and never dependent on any single factor alone.

To demonstrate my idea take a look at Ivanka Trump’s Twitter feed. Landing on the page we see a cover image of Ivanka looking poised with her adorable baby in her lap as she focuses on her laptop. She presents herself as the image of the working mom, who manages to do it all; she achieves career success and has time for her children. Next, we see her bio underneath her profile picture “Wife, mother, sister, daughter. Entrepreneur & advocate for the education & empowerment of women & girls. “ Already she’s branding herself as a glossy feminist icon and her brand looks closer to Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.

Her social media presence looks like a renaissance painting when placed next to the garbage stew of her father’s. Of course, Donald Trump’s Twitter should not be the standard. Ivanka looks clear and poised and she demonstrates a willingness to engage. Recent tweets include sharing an op-ed about how the US needs to invest more in scientific research, adding that the recent congressional budget represents a step in the right direction. She also shares casual posts of herself and her children. From her Twitter feed alone, Ivanka looks like a new Sheryl Sandberg.

Yet Ivanka is running into the same problem that Kendall Jenner and Pepsi had not too long ago. While her social media presence is great, she’s using feminism to brand herself in a way without embodying feminist values in her work. She was born into privilege and did not struggle in a male-dominated corporate culture due to her family name. Now, she’s doing work for a president who has consistently made sexist remarks. She supports a party in which thirteen men and zero women are writing a healthcare bill which could cut women’s health care services such as planned parenthood.

Her social media strategy has not failed completely, as commentators have noted that her unofficial place in the White House is a moderating factor. Yet many more, notably late night host Samantha Bee, have called her out for this inconsistency. Nevertheless, if Ivanka wants to build the brand she has crafted on social media, she needs to start adhering to it in her working life.