A while back I wrote a [rant] called Turning Angry Users into Users for Life – you may not have read it, because well, you didn’t know who we were back then, but the tl;dr version is thus:
If someone takes the energy to tell you how much your product sucks, it’s the best opportunity to turn them into a user for life, because they feel the pain you’re trying to solve almost as much as you do – perhaps more.
On this occasion, I was writing about a startup who had used high-profile technology thought leaders’ social media information on their site without asking, and without making it clear that those thought leaders weren’t actually using the service yet, despite the fact that users could ‘reach out to them’ (to but their time). Just months previously, at a startup I was working at, I had had a user who sent a long angry email about the product, in addition to trashing us on the app store and online, and as community manager, I quickly assessed the threat, determined we could satisfy part of his pains in the short term, and make it a priority (and communicate that it was a priority) to solve his other pains in the medium term. We updated the app within 2 hours, responded with a screenshot of the problem resolved, and he changed his app review, and sent an equally long email about how happy he was that startups actually listened to him. I bet you he’s still using the service today.
Like in my last [rant], this first story comes with the unfortunate consequence that I must detail another “this is not what to do,” so let me introduce you to Whoozer. I first interacted with Whoozer last October, because the founder Fabien Cohen had co-founded the Pigeon Movement. The startup (not whoozer.com, but whoozer.fr) is a social network for universities – kind of like Facebook in 2006, but with modern technology (SoLoMo).
— Liam Boogar (@LiamBoogar) 25 février 2013
Yesterday I received a tip from a friend about an anonymous rant on PasteBin – my friend called it “time to get rude” and thought I’d enjoy it – essentially, it’s an angry ESCP student (ESCP is one of the locations where Whoozer is used, if not the only) who had a bad experience with Whoozer, and then began looking the Facebook page & Twitter account for the startup, as well as the twitter account of the two founders (2nd one here), and noticed that all social media accounts had a lot of activity. The ranter goes on to point out how many of the accounts are fake, on Twitter and on Facebook, with very detailed screenshots of his proof.
The act of having fake followers/fans is pretty common – The Kernel treated the subject pretty well last July, exposing a few notorious follower buyers, notably CEOs of social influence measuring tools. I’m not for or against the act, it’s more of a marketing decision.
I sent out a tweet referencing the rant, because I thought it was quite amusing, and I was pretty excited at the response I got:
“Wow @LiamBoogar remember when you sucked my dick for @DefensePieons we did the same strategy. So stfu and learn noob #YSC
His cofounder chimed in as well, but I was less impressed/blown away with this. This is definitely a bad idea for any first-time entrepreneur, or really, any one. I snapped a screenshot of this, because I had a feeling the tweet would disappear once the rage ended and the red mist went away, and I was right. The PasteBin ranter had pointed out several ‘go fuck yourselves’ that he had received from both cofounders and that subsequently disappeared, so I guess they have a habit of rage tweeting; unfortunately, they seem to have a habit of getting screen-grabbed as well.
In general, it’s a bad idea to react negatively to negative feedback. It only affirms ones complaints, and it doesn’t reach the desired conclusion for either side, unless one side desires a shit storm.
In the end, I know more now about the Whoozer app than I did before, but I don’t think this is the context under which anyone wants to make a first impression. I invite the founders, as well as the anonymous PasteBin ranter to leave their comments below; I am always open to keeping the dialogue open.