@ceophono No, your opinion is though.
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) January 3, 2017
And I think it’s awesome.
Some people like Jay Baer, think Wendy’s is crossing the line and we shouldn’t be celebrating any brand’s ‘snaps’ game even if they are hilariously putting trolls in their place. In short, Jay is saying that playing it safe is smarter than being ‘edgy’.
And he might very well be right. But I don’t think whether or not Wendy’s should play it safe is the key issue here.
I think the key issue is, how easily brands can be confused about how to use social media by listening to ‘thought leaders’.
We tell them that ‘safe is risky’, then when one of them tries something risky like this, we tell them that they should play it safe.
We tell brands that they should ‘be more human’. The above tweet from Wendy’s is as ‘human’ as it gets. But when Wendy’s acts like a human, we tell them to stop.
We tell brands to stop creating boring content and to create something that stands out. Then when a brand like Wendy’s creates content that suddenly gets everyone talking, we tell them to stop.
Which is it?
Personally, I don’t have a problem with a brand putting a troll in its place with social media. It can easily be a slippery slope and a short ride from putting a troll in its place to slamming a customer with a legit complaint, and the PR backlash that entails. That’s a risk you take when heading down the path Wendy’s has started down.
What I do have a problem with is a brand that never experiments. Playing it ‘safe’ can be very risky. Jay makes the point that using social media to put customers in their places is a losing strategy for a brand. I agree completely. But if someone is mocking and insulting a brand unprovoked on Twitter, and it’s not based on a specific interaction, then I think it’s safe to assume that the brand isn’t dealing with a customer, they are dealing with a troll.
I don’t believe we should hold brands to the same standards when dealing with trolls versus dealing with a disgruntled customer. And it can be tough for brands to sometimes understand the difference. I cover how to deal with trolls vs angry customers in Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans.
Here’s a quick and dirty way to tell the difference: A troll’s attacks will be vague and typically about the brand itself. An angry’s customers attacks will be specific and often focus on a single instance or interaction with your brand.
“I heard you support the President, you suck!” – Troll
“I eat at your restaurant every week but today the food and service was horrible! You suck!” – Angry customer.
The bottom line is this, brands need to be braver when it comes to using social media. And more importantly, they need to listen to their own experience and intuition moreso than blindly listening to the ‘experts’.