For brands trying to engage their consumers, social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, brands stand to profit from building a fan base, garnering likes and retweets, and creating an online forum for engagement with their consumer. At the same time, entering the social media sphere allows dissatisfied consumers to voice their complaints, and very rarely do they do this politely. Deleting posts would be inauthentic, thus many brands are resolving to attend to every complaint and right every wrong. Others, however, have emerged embracing the hate, becoming more self-aware, and manipulating the negative feedback into positive social media campaigns.
Burger King Norway had a problem: Although they had won over 38,000 Facebook fans, the consumer posts on their page consisted of mostly negative feedback and free food demands. From this, the “Whopper Sellout” was born. In an attempt to separate the fans from the sellouts, BK Norway created a new Facebook page and promised their old followers free Big Macs to not like their new page. The result: BK Norway gave away 1,000 Big Macs and their Facebook fanbase decreased by 75%. So, was the focus on quality over quantity the right decision? Burger King Scandinavia Marketing Director Sven Hars seems to think so: “The brand has a much clearer personality and presence on Facebook. There are so many more conversations going on between both us and the fans, and the fans in general.” Not to mention, they were able to free themselves of the ‘fans’ that liked them just because of freebies.
Similarly, Spirit Airlines is no stranger to consumer complaints. This company has decided that they can’t beat their haters, so they’ll join them. Spirit is embracing disgruntled customers in the “Hate Thousand Mile Giveaway,” encouraging consumers to voice their complaints in exchange for 8,000 free Spirit miles. The airline has been circulating viral videos and plans to give away up to one billion miles, all in an effort to educate their consumers on the Spirit way of traveling. Spirit’s CEO Ben Baldanza says, “We know many customers love us and our approach to air travel. We’re confident that once the haters see how we’re different, and how much money they can save, they’ll learn to love us, as well.”
In a world where social media has brands bending over backwards trying to please the consumer, these brands are trying something different. It’s a well-known fact that you can’t please everyone, so why not embrace the hate?
My name is Carrie Klemencic, and I’m an account management intern for the Barbarian Group. I recently graduated from Emory University where I studied Psychology and Spanish.