Pissing Off Your Users Might Not be a Bad Thing

Making your users angry might not be the death knell it used to be. Given today’s social media outlets, customers can vent and engage with one another directly (and with your company) like never before. Causing a spark is good, and even dissent. Getting people to talk, even “negative press” might be a good thing. Overall, this gets people to hear about your brand that might not otherwise have (if the fallout is big enough) or it can get you support from sources that either agree or disagree with the cause of the ruckus. Conversation, even if it’s a dissatisfied mob, drives brand awareness and even can drive sales if handled correctly.

Hill East March on Potomac Gardens

Not all rainbows and sunshine for Oreo

Gay Pride Oreo

For a recent example, let’s look at Oreos. Everyone knows Oreo, and they recently released an image coinciding with gay pride month on their Facebook page. The result was almost instant backlash. Hundreds of thousands of users came to talk on the page, arguing their points and some even saying they were going to boycott the brand for their support of gay rights. When the dust settled, Oreo had multiple posts on their wall from customers that said things like, “Due to your support of gay rights, I just had to go out and buy a box of Oreos.” And many businesses and non-profit organizations such as GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and the Trevor Project linked the GLBT Oreo photo on their walls, increasing Oreo’s marketing scope far beyond their own page. Countless waves of support and condemnation alike are rolling in, and the result was people talking about – and buying – more Oreos.

Of soap opera and wrestling fans…

Another example of this could be the WWE. Through their carefully orchestrated plot lines and cinematic appeal, the wrestling giant uses Twitter as its social media of choice. They often have millions of followers per celebrity account, and the debates via use of hashtags and @ replies can go on for pages and pages. One thing the WWE’s huge Twitter presence nets them is brand recognition. They are consistently trending on Twitter’s front page due to their popularity and their use of hashtagging. That’s not to say your business will be the next Twitter sensation, but sparking debate and conversation through the 140-character limit with your customers is a good way to get started. Twitter can be like throwing a rock into a small lake. You need to understand the ripples that can come from it. Microblogging is a powerful tool when handled correctly by a business. Causing a ripple, or even a tidal wave, will gain you followers, retweets, and overall marketing success if the tool is used correctly.

Because only one can be ‘The Facebook’.

And look at Facebook. They regularly piss off their users by making sweeping changes that encroach on their users’ privacy, but although many people threaten to quit Facebook, very few actually do. Let’s face it, there’s no real alternative to Facebook for the things its users go there for. Oh sure, Google+ wants to be the new Facebook, but although they may have a lot of users as far as numbers go due to the way Google bundled it with Gmail and such, Google+ doesn’t have nearly the same level of active membership as Facebook. Although the people who are active users on Google+ are apparently very happy about it, people aren’t exactly leaving Facebook in droves to become Google+ converts.

Can you make good out of bad?

Overall, making your users angry will also provide you a chance to make it right. One thing any company can do is learn to satisfy an angry or unhappy customer. Going above and beyond traditional customer service is always appreciated by anyone who has had a bad experience with your brand. Figure out what you would want to happen if you were in the customer’s shoes – then act on it. Nothing will be more beneficial to your sales than treating customers the way they should be treated, and making things right if they feel they’ve been wronged. Good, even great service experiences get shared all over the Internet. If a customer has a bad experience with your company, rest assured their social network will hear about it. If you make it right and contact the customer to resolve the problem in a timely and professional manner, you can change their perception of your business, and even drive new sales. Off the top of my head, I became a big fan of a local photography studio that had royally screwed up my son’s pictures on us – but they went above and beyond simply making it right to making us thrilled. And I tagged six of my local friends with kids to let them know the studio just started a new Groupon promotion they should take advantage of.

Pissing off your users intentionally can be a good or bad thing, depending on how it’s handled. Here’s hoping that you’ve chosen wisely, and experience the better side of an angry mob.

About Christina Gleason

Christina Gleason is that person who corrects your grammar on Facebook the founder and editor of Phenomenal Content, a Web content writing company. A dedicated geek, Christina is also quite addicted to World of Warcraft, Twitter, and Pinterest. She is not an extrovert, but she plays one online.

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