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Revenge of the Social Media Nerds

"On my command, unleash Twitter"

One of the things I love about social media is people stand-up for each other. The art of “having your back” has returned. As very recent examples show:

1. The Cooks Source Revenge: Editor uses someone else’s recipe/article, writer takes exception, editor sends condescending reply, citing that all the internet tubes are “public domain” and she should charge her for using the article. UNLEASH THE GEEKALANCHE! If you Google “Cooks Source” you can see this turned into a worldwide story. Advertisers were bombarded with calls and emails to pull their support from the magazine.

2. Amazon Pedophile Guide: Somebody discovered Amazon was selling a guide to being a pedophile and thankfully the online world collectively lost their mind on them. Within 18 hours, the call to boycott Amazon was so strong, they pulled the title. Sadly, this also generated sales of the ebook before it was removed.

3. #IAmSparticus: Man gets to airport, is cheesed his flight isn’t going anywhere and tweets “Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” And is promptly arrested. During his trial, a horde of online folks, mostly in the UK, tweet the exact thing and add “#IAmSparticus” to the end, in an act of awesomeness and solidarity.

Here’s what I love: everything is immediate and everybody is relevant. it no longer depends on press releases, contacts and a huge budget to get the world to take notice, it just has to be an awesome outrage. Us geeks have nothing better to do than to gang-up and stand-up for what’s right. We live rent-free in wicked basements and don’t have to do our own laundry (at least I wish this was still true for me).

Here’s where I take issue: We’ve lost the benefit of the doubt. I have no problem with the examples above but people now default to complaining on social media instead of going directly to the business first. I try to treat screw-ups as if they happened with my business, meaning I’d want to know to have a chance to make it right.

With my last post I could have simply tweeted that the food sucked, and walked away, but I never would have gotten it resolved and realized the chef cared about my experience.

I’ve seen people post on Facebook and Twitter about a terrible meal or a bad service experience but have never actually asked for it to be resolved, like the social media smurf unicorns would run off in the night and fix it all, due to brands fearing the social media geek-tsunami that was impending.

My mom brought UnJunior to get his haircut last week and wasn’t pleased with the attitude when she was refused service due to the time of day (20 minutes away from closing). She asked me if I could “Twitter” it. That’s when I started to sob gently. Social media should not be a megaphone of anger if we haven’t tried for a resolution. I’m guilty as the next person. So with this situation, I sent a DM to the hair place, and she explained what happened, overbooked, only stylist there had to leave to get her daughter at daycare before it closed. I could have jumped on Twitter and called them out with the old “DO YOU KNOW WHO I THINK I AM?? HAVE YOU SEEN MY KLOUT SCORE!!??”  Amazingly being human here worked and we talked about UnJunior coming in at another time.

It’s gotten so bad I’ve heard of people threatening places that if they don’t comp them rooms, meals or swag at events, they will tweet, post or give negative Yelp/TripAdvisor reviews. THESE are the people that need to be outed and have a social media beat down. THEY are the ones that make the social media sphere bad for the rest of us.

So next time you’re about to rage, make sure you give the business a chance to make it right first. If they fail to make it right, then on my command, unleash social media hell. 🙂

Have you had good/bad experience with this as a consumer or biz owner? I’d love to hear your comments below.

  • Anonymous

    I like this. A lot. It supports my belief that Social Media has never provided people with a valid excuse to stop behaving like reasonable, rational humans. nnBeing nice is way better. Resolving issues is way better. Acting like a moron on Social Media is a lose/lose, because you get all up in someone’s face about something that may not be an issue, and you also paint yourself into the “d$%khead corner” which is undesirable.nnNicely said Scott 🙂

  • Mark Longbottom

    Good post, to get back to spartacus without gettign technical it has to be reasonable rather than fuelled by rage and a following of sheep. As you point out in the post regarding the hairdresser, its important we think before we jump or everyone will jump too.nnSimply use the available techology effectively, once we would have just gone for gossip in the market place and business news in the forum. Just logging on won’t change the world, thinking and considering ur actions, interactions and reactions will though when engaged with others.

  • People treat you the way you teach them to treat you. If you approach them sullen and resentful they respond in kind. If you speak up but assume it was just a snafu and no one was to blame you’ll normally get a helpful, supportive response. Doesn’t matter whether you do it in person, on the phone, or via email; give people a chance to be helpful and supportive and they’ll almost always take it.

  • Great points Scott. One of the big negatives and frankly things that can just wear me out with social media is the level of drama seeking folks that clearly don’t want to discuss anything but just whine. If there’s an issue, Twitter or Facebook might be a good way to get an issue addressed but it should always be directed at someone who can actually resolve the issue rather than ranting *about* someone without giving them the chance to respond. nnNice pic btw- I expect that’s your Halloween costume next year.n-Dave

  • I totally agree on going to the business in question first with complaints. Living with celiac disease makes eating out a gamble – a cutting board with microscopic breadcrumbs on it, or an unclean grill can make me really sick. But talking to restaurant staff before I visit (often even on twitter) has helped me eat so many wonderful meals AND build relationships with the restaurants. On the rare occasion that I do get sick, I don’t blab it on twitter, I call and email the restaurant to let them know, and then I’ll often stop in to talk to the kitchen staff and help them understand how to cook for allergic guests safely. A personal negative has opened the dining room doors to some great restaurants to all with allergies/celiac.

  • I recently was the fortunate recipient of the “we’ve got your back” attitude. Some anonymous Twitter account (no link, no name, and about 10 updates) began bashing me because of a guest I chose to feature on my Charity Chat podcast. He went so far as to tweet people who he thought would also be offended. Fortunately they knew it was a bunch of hogwash and the collective group was able to get the account closed down. It saddened me that it came to that, but what he was saying was some pretty heinous stuff and had the potential to really damage my reputation!nnOn your last note, I know of some people who use their social media presence as a threat and I just shake my head. It’s a short-lived tactic and word is bound to get around. At least we hope it is.

  • Jamiebroderick

    Someone was ranting about a cashier at a well known store who had sneezed and proceeded to scan their merchandise without cleaning their hands with the antiseptic wipes provided at each register. Lots of posts about how disgusting it must be to shop there with germs swirling everywhere. They assumed this was the accepted store policy and was asking everyone to boycott the store. I pointed out that the giant container of antiseptic wipes that was stationed at the register indicated the opposite to me. Just felt like sticking up for the store and stopping the negative flow.

  • Great points Scott. I’ve only used the social media megaphone treatment as a threat once; last week with Vonage. Here’s the fully story: nnThreatening them didn’t help during the phone call and I felt weird even saying, “I’m going to share my experience with thousands of people on Twitter.” And then when @Vonage saw tweets and interacted they gave me the customer service I (and everyone) should have gotten on the phone the day before.nnYour post brings up how nuanced this ‘social media megaphone’ phenomenon is. As you mention, sometimes it’s us social media types who are misbehaving and abusing power rather than the companies that get called out. There’s a responsibility that comes with any power and with having any level of an audience. We all need to keep ourselves in check and do a little research before reacting immediately to a situation.nnJust like it’s easier to do a drive-by shooting rather punching someone a foot away from you, since we don’t have to look a company or a fellow tweeter in the eyes, it makes it much easier to vilify and trash them online. Usually we get a lot of “hell yeahs” in response, which feeds that connection and validation fuel people love so much. That only takes the oxytoxin high to an even higher level.nnMy biggest takeaway from your post is to always give the benefit of the doubt before jumping into a smackdown just to vent frustration. As Depeche Mode says, “People are people so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?” n

  • I couldn’t read the article – I was laughing too hard at your photo. Good job Scott!

  • How does this apply to your blog/rant about Tim Horton’s and the service you got? Did you go into that location and tell them your concerns and frustrations with how your coffee was prepared. nnI agree that people who try abuse their “twitter influence” should be outed. We’ve got locals who get the free stuff and won’t tweet about an event, spot, cause unless they get free stuff. They’re in it for them, not the community as a whole and its disappointing to see that it works.

    • Yep. I ranted at many locations, head office, anyone who would listen. rnrnNo one cared

    • And what I noticed was that there wasn’t a huge rant on twitter about the coffee, more the aha! moment when the discovery was, hey, there are better places out there…

  • Anonymous

    Seems you and @mediaphyter (Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet) are surfing similar brain waves this week. Her blog from yesterday details her mortifying experience 12 years ago with 1-800-Flowers. Read it. My jaw dropped. ( gist of the post was to illustrate how companies tend to try silencing customers with coupons and freebies without actually getting to the heart of the problem.nnOn the other side of the coin (as described by Scott here), there folks online who ardently believe it’s their right and duty to call out a company immediately before trying to work it out.nnSo it would seem the impetus is on both the company and the customer to use something we might call restraint and good judgment. nnShould customers attempt to work it out directly with a company before going on a twirade about how wronged they were? Yes.nnAre companies expected to hear what their customers are saying or what they need in order keep them loyal? Wouldn’t hurt.nnSeems like a pretty good formula for success…nnSam TitlenChief Executive

  • Paul Turner

    this is so true. As a customer service guy and having an idea of “the way things should be” I try to give the business the benefit of the doubt and pry a bit further as to why things are are the way they are. Usually a little banter and a few suggestions later, I am not nearly as peeved or ready to cause a twitastrophe.

  • Great post and something I’ve been seeing more of lately. We need to call people out on this and I think that brands are going to be more willing to engage in SM if for no other reason than to defend themselves from unreasonable demands.nIt was great meeting you last night! Hope you and your family have a great time after the tour is over.

  • Angie

    Right back at the ‘ranters’. rnrnThere are some (me included) who cast judgement on YOU when you rant when it is simply…just a rant. If a comment does not refer to BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY – e.g. “When I tried to remedy the problem, this is the feedback I got from the business” – then I assume the comment is just a load of coswallop and I tend to shun the ranter and remain apethetic (if not SUPPORTIVE) of the business in question.rnrnYes, I own my own business. Yes, I rarely rant because I rarely leave an unacceptable situation without reasonable remedy. And, yes, I think I’m a balanced human being. Loath me if you need to.

  • I so agree with this, but I also think that besides the original tweet/post, in order for anything to become viral, all these other people need to “catch the virus”. In a weird way, social media is supposed to be based on trust, but really, the original message cannot be trusted, yet gets propagated on the wings of previously-built relationships and perhaps just a little bit of carelessness…nnAs you say, Scott, it’s about power, and social media gives power to people based on their social skills, maybe their technology skills, but not their level of social responsibility. It’s sad, really.nn…and you’re not a geek. You’re a mentch. Not the same.

  • Social being used as a “weapon” by some that are simply looking for “free shit”.nnAt some point in time, there must be accountability for both brand and consumer.

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  • dar

    A Complaint is a Gift – great book! You said it one thought, give people the chance to make it right, that’s when they truly shine…or not.nWouldn’t we all love a chnace to fix our last screwup?

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  • You are so right Scott! Unfortunately “those” kind of folks are everywhere, even social media. We are all human, we all make mistakes and we all have extenuating circumstances. I’m a benefit of the doubt kinda gal. Sounds like you’re that kinda guy, too. Thanks for this post. It needed to be written.

  • Great post. We need to make sure we are posting the positive. I think many times people think the negative is always someone else’s fault. Not always. Sometimes it is but not intentional. Think before you tweet.

  • Mel

    I hadn’t thought about this much but it is very true. One person can stir the masses! What ever became of that “editor”? I bet she’s out of a job! 🙂

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

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  • Wait a minute…that image above is photoshopped …I know, I can tell…Im clever like that ;-p

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  • Revenge heals all wounds some scientists say human beings are genetically wired for it. Dont feel guilty about the pain you are about to bestow on the one who hurt you, they deserve it. Take your time, contemplate the punishment to fit the crime and plot your moves. You will be healed of the silent fury that runs through your veins. Your sleepless nights and mental scars will fade.

  • A small part of this I’m pinning on people wanting to avoid direct confrontation whilst also having the need to vent. In relative terms we’re all still incredibly new to social media so it’s no surprise most of us make commit occasional conversational faux pas.

  • NiblickAdMan

    Scott, you are so right! I’m old enough to be considered “old school” but have been around computers all my adult life and have worked in digital marketing for over a decade and detest it when folks go off on a merchant, restaurateur, etc. without FIRST attempting to–in civil manner–resolve an issue the old fashioned way: in person. If that merchant, restaurateur etc behaves badly, I then say, let ’em have it! I had a big skirmish with Wells Fargo a couple of years ago, and went postal on social media and my blog, and much to my surprise, the exec assistant to the CEO actually intervened, resolved the problem and gave our account a “special credit” for our hassle. So it can work well–both ways! Great piece, Scott!

  • NiblickAdman

    …and by the way, the pic of you as “Spartacus” begs the line…”are you not entertained?!?”

    • NiblickAdMan

      Maximus, not Spartacus! My bad!