Every day I see several instances of people complaining against one brand or the other on Twitter. The forms range from a simple tweet to a live blogpost with minute to minute updates and retweets after retweets. The brand outragers could be broadly categorised under five buckets (When I was done with the list, it was seven. I was too lazy to think of three more to round it off to a nice ten):
1. Godmen: The don’t-you-know-i-am-a-social-media-influencer-and-how-dare-you-not-treat-me-like-god outrager
2. Lazyfixer: The i-may-not-be-a-social-media-influencer-but-i-have-the-power-of-the-internetz-and-am—too-lazy-to-reach-out-to-them-directly outrager
3. Wannabe: The oh-my-god-everyone-loves-to-piss-on-this-brand-so-let-me-too-and-gain-some-quick-fame outrager
4. Minority: The i-have-really-tried-to-be-patient-but-now-you-leave-me-with-no-choice outrager
5. Strategist: The i-will-not-declare-my-vested-interest-in-dissing-this-brand outrager (the vested interests range from the brand in question being a competitor of the outrager’s client/company or outrager’s friend’s or brother’s wife’s client)
6. Avenger: The this-is-my-moment-to-seek-revenge outrager (the reasons here could vary from the outrager holding a personal grudge against the poor chap who is probably managing the brand or heading the company. It could also be an ex-employee who is peeved with the company or someone who did not have a great experience the last time he interacted with the brand. It’s also ideological differences with the brand and its business sometimes.)
7. Call-outer: The come-on-guys-you-are-being-watched-so-get-your-act-together outragers
I’ll admit it hurts to see a brand being tossed around and its hard earned reputation being maligned over a one-off incident. This is perhaps because I am familiar with the hard work that goes into building brands and reputation. I also realise that it’s unavoidable and in the current world, any brand is really as good as its last interaction with the consumer. The good thing is also that in most cases, these cribs do not cause much of a dent and the short memory span also helps the brand get up, dust itself and start sprinting again.
However, this world will be a happy place for a brand manager if only outragers followed these ten commandments before launching a battle cry from their keyboards:
1. You shall make the effort to directly contact the company with a complaint first before raising a hue and cry on social media
2. You shall not forget no company is above human errors; when a person employed by a company screws up, allow the company the chance to explain and set things right before demonising them
3. You shall reach out to the brand/brand manager/employee of the brand on Twitter/FB first and explain your case before running with it to your followers
4. You shall allow a few hours – ideally 24 hours if possible - for the brand to get back; at any given point there are hundred more people angrier than you demanding their attention
5. You shall always remember there is a human being at the other end. You shall strive to be polite.
6. You shall provide constructive criticism and feedback knowing that would help them. Badgering them with barbs and abuses don’t.
7. You shall not compare apples and oranges; and make an effort to understand their POV
8. You shall treat the brand the way you would like to be treated by others, even when you make a mistake
9. You shall forgive the first mistake of a brand; you shall lightly warn them for the second; and take them to task for the third.
10. You shall publicly praise a brand that serves you well and takes good care of you as much as you criticise one for ruining your day