Sunday, May 11, 2014

How Social Media Helps, and Hurts

A number of years ago, probably after I released my first mystery title, Taxed to Death, I read a piece of advice somewhere that said never respond to a negative review. It was good advice that I’ve followed all these years. I’ve watched famous authors respond to negative reviews and it never ends well. Reputations are tarnished and the scathing comments seem to multiply.

Recently, a company called Mediabridge decided to do more than post a scathing reply to a negative review of their router. According to a piece in arstechnica, they sent a letter to the reviewer threatening to sue him after they discovered that his comment had become Amazon’s #1 most helpful response. The company claimed that the review had cost them money and tarnished their reputation. They also claimed that the reviewer intentionally set out to discredit, damage, defame, and liable Mediabridge.

The reviewer posted the letter and asked readers for any financial assistance they could manage to help with his legal costs. The letter launched a social media brouhaha. The responses were overwhelmingly supportive of the reviewer’s right to say what he thinks and not be bullied by the corporate world.

Two things happened out of this. One is that Amazon revoked Mediabridge’s right to sell products on their site and two, Mediabridge’s Facebook page was inundated with so many nasty comments that the company has now deleted its entire Facebook presence. They said that the whole incident has been distorted and blown out of proportion. They also added that the loss of revenue will likely cost employees their jobs.

So, here’s the thing. Whether the reviewer was accurate in his assessment of the router, or whether the company was correct in their assessment, a lot of damage has been done. I know we in Canada and the U.S. live in societies where freed of speech is honored, but think about it; wouldn’t Mediabridge be better off right now if they had just kept quiet? Like I said, negative responses never end well.

1 comment:

Pat Bertram said...

When a reader leaves a not-so-flattering review, especially when the dissatisfaction comes from an erroneous assumption as to the genre, I always want to say, "But that's not what the book was about!" But I keep my mouth shut. It's a good thing I do. I'd hate to have to delete my entire online life!