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Flamers and Trolls

You want your engagement with your followers to be sizzling hot and to buzz with excitement.

So what’s the deal with flaming? Doesn’t that heat things up, get the conversation moving?

It might do. But unless you’re a brand that’s all about controversy, then flaming’s probably not for you.

What is Flaming?

Flaming, according to Wikipedia is:

The act of posting deliberately hostile messages on the Internet.

Or:

A hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users

Wikipedia adds that flaming is “used mainly by trolls.”

We’ve all seen debates get heated on the internet. They rarely turn out well.

What should you do if your brand is flamed, or a flame war breaks out on your Facebook page?

Step 1: Remember, Prevention is Better than Firefighting

Sometimes people are perverse, and you’ll get flamed out of the blue for no reason. If this has happened to you, you can move on to the next step.

Most of the time, however, flaming happens for a reason. People will flame your brand because they’re frustrated with you. Something’s gone wrong, and it hasn’t been resolved. Just look at what happened to Amy’s Baking Company.

So, put out the fire before it happens. Make sure your social listening is up to speed and that you’re catching all brand mentions. When people raise problems about your brand on social media, jump in and solve it as quickly as you can.

Note: When people criticize your brand, it’s best to assume they’ve got good intentions. Treat their complaint at face value, rather than assuming they’re trying to flame you.

Step 2: Always Act Calm

Flaming burns. It’s painful. Flamers flame because they want to hurt you and provoke a reaction.

Whatever you do, don’t display your anger. Remain as calm as you can.

Remember this maxim: lose your temper, and you’ve lost the argument.

Step 3: Don’t Feed the Trolls

It’s not always easy to tell if someone’s got a legitimate complaint, or if they’re just trying to flame you.

Obviously, if someone is clearly trolling, you’re best to ignore it and delete it.

But what if things aren’t clear? We recommend responding to a potential flame once. Stay calm and professional in your response. This should cool things down, at least for legitimate and reasonable complainants. Flamers will continue to heat things up. If this happens, then it’s okay to disengage.

Step 4: Know that You’re In Charge

Social media is for the most part a public space. But you do have control over various aspects of it. You can decide whether to delete a flamer’s post on your Facebook page. You can decide to block an internet bully.

If you do this, you haven’t lost the argument. You’ve made a healthy choice for you and your business.

Engaging with trolls can cost a lot emotionally, so it’s best to leave them well alone. Then you’ll have more energy and buzz to focus on what matters.

Over to You

What are your top tips on dealing with flamers and trolls?

Airline Social Media

How do you become a millionaire? Make a billion dollars and then buy an airline. – Warren Buffett

Buffett learned from experience – he got burned when he bought shares in US Airways worth over $300 million. In five years, they’d lost 75% of their value.

Buffett joked: “If a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk back in the early 1900s, he should have shot Orville Wright.”

Well, maybe shooting one of the Wright brothers is taking it a bit far. But airlines are tricky businesses to run at the best of times. Little wonder they so often lose money.

Your customers are tired and often grumpy. They’ve often got up early (or stayed up late) for their flight. Then they had to line up for check-in. Then security – which is simultaneously terrifying and humiliating. Then they’ve had to fight their way on board to find a cramped seat where they’ll have to sit for several hours.

Not even the food is special.

Hook that up with the fact that you’re dealing with people’s dreams. Vacations they’ve saved years to take. Trips across country to reunite with relatives or friends. Travel to a make-or-break business deal.

Airlines have a tough job on their hands.

Would you want to be an airline? I’m not sure I would.

But if I was, I’d be careful to avoid these mistakes.

1. Ryanair’s “Middle Gimp”

James Lockley and his newlywed wife had spent two hours stuck in traffic en route to Stansted Airport in London, England. They were flying out to their own wedding reception in central Europe.

Despite the delay, they arrived at the airport an hour before their Ryanair flight was due to depart.

Yet due to Ryanair staff behaving incompetently, the plane boarded without them.

They were left stranded – and furious – in London, while the guests at their own wedding reception partied without them.

Lockley’s revenge? A letter of complaint to Ryanair that he published to Facebook. Ryanair staff are characterized as “Vacant”, “Not That Bright” and “Middle Gimp”.

Middle Gimp – supposedly a customer services manager – showed no compassion o their plight.

Here’s the story:

Middle Gimp had clearly listen hard at Ryan Air Middle Gimp school as he managed to take two perfectly calm and sane adults and in a matter of seconds reduce them to angry people considering violence.

‘Check in opens 3 hours before the flight’ he barked repeatedly as if it was the answer to every question in life. We tried to ask Middle Gimp direct questions about why it was necessary for us to miss the flight because the Child had forgotten to do his job, and Vacant had forgotten to do hers.

‘Why is this our fault, and why should we miss the flight because Ryan Air staff have admitted they made errors?.

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

‘Do you acknowledge we have just cause for complaint as we tried to do the right thing and the only reason we are not on the plane is because of communication failures with Ryan Air Staff?’

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

‘What colour are my trousers?’

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

You can read the full letter here. At the time of writing, it’s clocked up close to 70,000 shares.

Ouch.

Worse, Ryanair have just ignored it.

Ryanair gets by on being cheap. People use Ryanair because they want to save money. And maybe that’s a strategy that will always work for them.

But here’s the rub.

People today expect more of companies, especially when it comes to customer service. Companies who fulfill that expectation are rewarded for their effort.

Research shows that seven in 10 (71%) consumers are likely to recommend a brand to others, if they experience a quick and effective customer service response on social media. That figure drops to 19% for consumers who don’t receive a response.

2. United Breaks Guitars

Canadian musician Dave Carroll was flying from Halifax to Omaha, Nebraska to play at a gig. He checked his guitar into hold.

During a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, he overheard another passenger exclaim “they’re throwing guitars outside”.

When Carroll arrived in Omaha, he discovered that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had suffered severe damage.

Carroll tried to claim compensation, but his claim was repeatedly rejected because he had failed to submit the claim within the “standard 24-hour timeframe.”

After nine months of frustrating phone calls and failed negotiations, Carroll changed tactics. Instead of trying to deal with United’s customer service team, he wrote a song about his experience.

“United Breaks Guitars” was an instant YouTube hit, clocking up 150,000 views in a single day.

United immediately contacted Carroll to “make what happened right” – though they only offered $3,000 in compensation (Carroll took it, and gave the money to charity).

Fortunately, Taylor guitars stepped into the breach, offering Carroll two Taylor guitars.

And “United Breaks Guitars” is still Dave Carroll’s biggest hit, with over 14 million views on YouTube.

What does this show? People power. Your customers have a greater voice than ever before – so don’t dismiss them when they come to you with problems.

3. #QantasLuxury

Back in 2011, Australian airline Qantas unintentionally kicked off a Twitter comedy hour.

Qantas asked people to tweet about their dream luxury inflight experience using the hashtag #QantasLuxury.

Did people start sharing their flying fantasies?

Nope, they didn’t..

Instead, they used the hashtag as a batsignal to get the attention of Qantas customer services.

Tweets included:

My #QantasLuxury experience would be no matter what time or duration of the flight a proper meal is served a cookie is not a meal its a joke

A complimentary cheap hotel room because your cynical airline left you stranded in Adelaide, of all places. Adelaide. #QantasLuxury

A plane that doesn’t have an exploding engine! #QantasLuxury

The lesson? If you’re going to ask your customers to dream better, then make sure your current offering is already damn good.

The Takeaway

What’s to learn from all of these? Your customers matter. Listen to them and treat them with respect – and they’ll do the same in return. Ignore customer complaints at your peril!

Warner Bros. Porky Pig has been delighting audiences around the world since the 1930s. He’s still going strong in Cartoon Network’s Looney Tunes show.

So what are the secrets of this oinkster, who is Looney Tunes’s oldest continuing character?

Take Time to Find Your Identity

Back in the 1930s, Porky Pig was one of Warner Brothers’ biggest stars. Even so, they were still working out who he was. From picture to picture, Porky had a different appearance, age, and personality.

In one picture, he’s a little piglet. In another, he’s the bad guy.

It took dozens of films for Porky to develop into a consistent character.

So if you’re still searching for your brand identity, enjoy the process! Just because you’re still exploring doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.

Tweety Pie had a similar bumpy road to fame.

Don’t Be Afraid to Step Back from the Limelight

Just when Porky thought he’d made it as Warner Brothers’ most bankable star, along came Daffy Duck.

Now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be too happy about being ousted from pole position by a fluffy, squawking, feathery clown of a bird.

Daffy even managed to convince Porky to resign from Warner Brothers and seek work elsewhere. However, Porky soon returned and became Daffy’s loyal sidekick.

So he found his place in the world, after all.

And who knows, maybe Daffy would never have been such a roaring success without Porky at his side? At least, that’s what Derek Sivers seems to suggest in this TED talk:

You Can Reinvent Yourself

Porky started out as a pen-and-ink cartoon drawing in the 1930s. By the 1940s he was Daffy’s sidekick. Then he ducked for cover until the 1960′, when he became the star of The Porky Pig Show.

Three decades after that, Porky appeared in a variety of Super NES video games and in the movie Space Jam. That’s over half a century of making it big – and covering the transition from ink to pixels.

If you have a strong and flexible brand personality, you can roll with the punches and come off even better than when you started.

Have a Sense of Humor

In a short, rarely shown film clip from 1938, Porky smacks his thumb with a hammer while pounding nails.

Porky cries out in pain: “Oh, son of a bi-bi-, son of a bi-bi-, son of a bi-bi-bi-… gun!”

Then he turns to the camera: “Ha-ha-ha! You thought I was gonna say ‘s-s-son of a bitch’, didn’t ya?!”

Of course, as Porky is a cartoon character, this is a deliberate “blooper” put together for fun by Porky’s creators.

Don’t be afraid of doing silly things from time to time. Having a laugh at your own expense will show that you’re human. And you’re on social media to build relationships, right?

Take a look at how British bookstore chain Waterstones reacted to Amazon’s Prime Air video:

Over to You

Are you a Porky Pig fan? What do you love about Porky Pig?