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Social media is a doubled-edged sword for entrepreneurs like Something Navy’s founder Arielle Charnas

Arielle Charnas is the founder of Something NavyArielle Charnas founded Something Navy as a blog in 2009.

Eugene Gologursky / Stringer

  • Arielle Charnas founded her blog Something Navy in 2009, which evolved into a clothing brand in 2020.
  • Insider reported that Charnas detached from promoting her brand on social media, among other missteps. 
  • Charnas’ behavior shows how social media can quickly build and destroy brand loyalty. 

Arielle Charnas started posting on social media in 2009, before “influencing” was a job. She built a brand by sharing her personal life and fashion on her blog, Something Navy.

The blog evolved into a media brand and clothing line of the same name that launched in 2020, but there have been problems inside the company. Insider published a recent article outlining late merchandising payments, meager sales, an employee exodus, and Charnas’ detachment from promoting her brand on social media. For example, Charnas didn’t acknowledge hiring Betty Wang as company president on social media and has been frequently photographed sporting designer clothing instead of her own products. 

A strong social-media presence and acting as the face of the brand gives many small-business owners the outlet to create loyal followings, turn fans into buyers, and earn additional income to support their companies, Insider found. But the wrong post or inactivity can turn your followers against you.

Charnas’ behavior on social media shows the positive and negative impacts the platforms can have on a business, especially when they’re vital to an entrepreneur’s success.

Connection was Charnas’ catalyst to success

A post shared by Arielle Charnas (@ariellecharnas)


Social media’s impact on small businesses is undeniable: Creators are turning their online presence into full-time careers and businesses are generating thousands in sales from the platforms

It’s a way for founders to connect with their audiences, and that connection is what many customers are looking for when they open their wallets, the publicity coach Joanne McCall previously told Insider

Charnas amassed 1.3 million followers on Instagram by sharing intimate posts about her family and even her struggles with postpartum anxiety, Insider reported. Her loyal followers, often fashion lovers or fellow mothers, quickly turned into Charnas’ first paying customers, contributing to the $831,000 in net sales the company earned in the first six days of its launch.

In today’s uncertain economy, that tactic is crucial, especially as inflation, a potential recession, and layoffs at high-profile companies might make shoppers more hesitant, McCall added. Followers want to feel like they know who they’re supporting, she said.

“People want to hear the stories and the realness,” Shirah Benarde, the cofounder of NightCap, previously told Insider. “They feel like they know you and they’re your friend.” 

Scandal stole brand loyalty 

While sharing aspects of her life is what allowed Charnas to become an influencer, it also contributed to her downfall.

In March 2020, Charnas posted a positive COVID-19 test result at a time when tests were difficult to obtain and reserved for high-risk individuals. Then she posted a photo from her Hamptons rental while stay-at-home orders were in full effect.

Her followers were frustrated and felt she was taking advantage of her privilege. Some followers believed Charnas’ values no longer matched theirs. 

A post shared by Arielle Charnas (@ariellecharnas)

Brand loyalty is created through sharing aligned values, McCall said, adding that “the more the leader can say about their own values, how they’re handling things, there’s a comfort in that.”

Charnas released an apology online but the incidents were still “a really big hit” for Something Navy, a former staffer told Insider. The employee added that the brand “basically lost all of our biggest partners — Amazon would never work with us again.” (An Amazon representative said the company doesn’t disclose details of its relationships with creators.)

Despite Charnas’ status as a minority stakeholder in Something Navy, the public holds her — the founder and face of the brand — responsible for many of its failures, Insider reported. That’s the double-edged sword of social media: It allowed her to grow her influence and was essential for sourcing necessary followers and resources — like affiliate revenue to fund part of the business — to scale her brand. 

Charnas’ experience is just one example of how quickly an online presence can build someone up then tear them down.

Read the original article on Business Insider