Why People Are So Angry On Social Media And In Their Cars And What You Can Do About It.

The other day I saw a woman verbally assault an older lady for changing lanes. The outburst was so loud I heard it driving in the opposite direction. It was also physically violent with shaking fists and offensive gestures directed at someone’s grandmother. Why can we be so mean and nasty when we’re behind 2-tons of steel when acting this same way in person would be unacceptable?

WebMD explains that road ragers don’t view other drivers as a person. Psychologist Ava Cadell says, “Road ragers don’t think about other people on the road as real people with real families.” We see this in social media as well. Research has shown that online anonymous commenting breeds mean-spirited and sometimes downright nasty attacks. People who intentionally post negative messages are referred to as Internet Trolls.

Why all the intentionally negative comments? A new study “Trolls Just Want To Have Fun” found online trolling can be a form of sadism. They post comments or messages to start arguments or get an emotional reaction from others. I’ve been telling my son, in the context of middle school, if someone calls you a nickname you don’t like, the last thing you want to do is get mad saying, “I don’t like that!” That will only make them call you it more! Apparently we can revert to middle school when we get behind the wheel or a smartphone.

Brands can become the target of all this hatred and it can seriously hurt business. Dimensional Research reports 86% of respondents who recalled reading online reviews said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews and most of these negative reviews happen on online ratings sites. What can marketers do?

There are new online reputation-management services, but The Wall Street Journal says many are falsely claiming that they can remove bad reviews. Yelp warns to stay away from services offering to remove negative reviews or otherwise boost your ratings for a fee saying it can’t be done. Angie’s List agrees saying that bad reviews can not simply be wiped off the site. Instead, Google suggests reducing the visibility of negative content by publishing useful, positive information and not trying to game the system.

eInsurance gives us insight into dealing with road ragers that could also apply to trolls. They advise that it takes two to start a fight. So don’t confront or over react to highly negative comments. William Comcowich of Cyber Alert gives similar advice saying “Don’t Feed the Trolls.” Avoid the following types of responses to negative commenters:

  • Emotional responses. If a post makes you angry, wait an hour before responding. Once a negative response is out on the Internet, you can’t take back.
  • Wrong information. Negative commenters live to prove you wrong. Make sure what you say is true and up-to-date.
  • Lengthy explanations. Long responses trying to prove you’re right merely give the attention they want and provide ground for new arguments.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore legitimate complaints from customers. If you honestly made a mistake, acknowledge it in a short and friendly manner. Humility and fixing something can go a long way towards turning a foe into a friend.

Of course there are exceptions. Some have grown tired of the power of ratings over their business and are fighting back against the rating sites. Botto Bistro has started a campaign to discredit the restaurant’s Yelp rating. It is running ads encouraging its customers to leave one-star reviews for 25% off any pizza to become the worst-rated restaurant in the Bay Area. As you can see below, the one-star ratings do come with somewhat sarcastic negative reviews that leave an overall positive impression.

Whether you are dealing with an angry driver, commenter or middle schooler, it is best to try and diffuse the situation.

What We Can Learn About Social Media, Disruptive Innovation & Marketing From U2’s Biggest Album Launch of All Time.

U2’s Songs of Innocence has not had a very innocent launch. It has been quite disruptive. Disruptive innovation is a term that has been very popular in the technological economy. Clayton Christensen first introduced this theory that holds established companies, acting rationally and carefully to stay on top, leave themselves vulnerable to upstarts who find ways to do things more cheaply, often with a new technology. To stay on top for a technology company or even a rock band, they must disrupt the market improving a product in ways that the market does not expect.

U2 front man, Bono said in a recent interview, “Part of the DNA of this band has always been the desire to get our music to as many people as possible.” How does a band in their 38th year continue to live up to that goal when more current acts like Maroon Five, One Direction and Taylor Swift are topping the charts and drawing traditional and social media attention? You creative a disruptive innovation.

Unless you were off the grid, you know that U2 launched a surprise new album at the Apple live event on Tuesday September 9th. More surprising was the fact that it was gifted to all iTunes users as a free download. U2’s manager Guy Oseary says the band wanted to reach as many people as possible. Apple reportedly paid the band an undisclosed direct payment for the exclusive iTunes release and will be running a 100 million dollar ad campaign to promote the album. That is a big promotion budget for a single album, but for Apple, the campaign also ties into promoting iTunes and their new iPhone 6 and iWatch. Apple is no stranger to disruptive innovation when it comes to the music industry and the wireless phone industry turning disruption into profits.

Ben Popper from the The Verge says this may be the future of music promotion, “Time was, the recipe for a superstar artist to create a Big Event Album was well known—a few teaser ads in the music mags, a lead single for radio, some late-night talk show appearances, then sit back and watch the fans line up at the record store on release day. But now that basically every entity in that sentence has been culturally marginalized, and the propeller churn of social media refuses to tolerate slow-burn marketing, the best—and, perhaps, only—way to get everyone talking about your record at once is to release it with no warning.” Popper goes on to say U2 crossed the line by inserting their new album into our libraries without consent. True, but the definition of disruption is “to interrupt the normal progress or activity of (something).” Isn’t that exactly why we are all writing these articles, and posts and updates and tweets about U2? To be honest, no one outside of their preexisting fan base would notice a regular album release by four Dubliner’s in the 38 year of their music careers.

Why is this release so disruptive? Apple is giving the album away for free to 500 million iTunes users around the world. On one day 7% of the planet had one button access to the songs instantly. But the band is also thumbing its nose at traditional music industry signs of success. Because Songs of Innocence has been released free at first, it is ineligible to appear on the Billboard 200. Also, because of the delay of the commercial release it will not be eligible for this year’s Grammys. It is also disruptive because a lot of iTunes users are angry that they got a free album. People are talking all over social media about getting the album off their playlist– free or not. But doing something that people don’t expect (causing a disruption) always causes a stir and a big stir is exactly what U2 and Apple wanted.

What kind of stir or buzz? SocialMention reports a 45% strength, 43% reach and 34% passion in the term “U2.” At the time of this writing sentiment is running 6:1 positive versus negative. Some top keywords are “album,” “iTunes,” “Songs,” and “Innocence.” Top Hashtags related to U2 are “Apple,” “U2songsofinnocence,” “applelive,” and “U2tour.” I saw a big spike in #U2 on Twitter from the site hastags.org and Google reports “U2” was the 7th hottest trending topic in search on Tuesday, September 9th.

Is this free, surprise album launch meeting business goals? Not even a week since the launch the data says yes. The album was downloaded over 2 million times in 3 days. And most likely, an even larger number of people have sampled some of the album by streaming it from iTunes or iTunes Radio. What’s more, the band’s back catalog is selling

17 of U2’s old albums have suddenly jumped up on the iTunes top 100 charts; including The Joshua Tree, their 1987 release, which is at number 12. There are also a lot of tweets out there from kids who are 14-18 saying this is really good and are discovering the band for the first time. But didn’t they mess up the commercial release? Why buy it after October 13? The record company promises a deluxe version with 4 new songs and up to 5 acoustic versions of released songs.

Still many critics say giving away an album is bad business. Before agreeing, consider that U2’s last album release lead to the 360° Tour which is the highest grossing concert tour of all time – netting over $736 million. To put that in perspective, One Direction’s 2014 tour grossed $230 million. With those numbers, giving away some albums for extra social media buzz and exposing the band to new listeners for an upcoming concert tour doesn’t seem like it will disrupt the band’s earnings.

Do you agree? How can you too disrupt your industry to build social media buzz and exceed business goals?

Before You Pronounce Traditional Advertising Dead Check For Its Social Media Pulse.

People love to pronounce things dead. In fact, the phrase “is dead” returns over 226 million Google search results. However, most media and marketing that has been pronounced dead, doesn’t actually die, it just changes into something else. Radio was pronounced dead when TV came along. Instead radio became a valuable local and promotional medium. I still have the cover of WIRED magazine hanging in my office that pronounced Apple computer dead in the 1990’s.

Many have pronounced traditional advertising dead as digital and social media have increased in usage and influence. In 2013 a Harvard Business Review article said, “Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.” The author’s evidence? More people find information about products/services on their own through the internet and social media. CMO’s lack credibility and can’t prove business growth. It doesn’t make sense to hire 3rd parties to try and sell your products for you. (I have paraphrased Bill Lee, please check out his arguments yourself).

From the evidence I gathered I see a different story. Instead of death, social media seems to be giving traditional advertising new life and this new life is growing evidence for the importance of integration of marketing methods. Instead of replacing the old, we should be including it. Even in my Social Media Marketing class focused on social media, I make it clear that it should never exist on its own. It is not a replacement for traditional marketing, but should be integrated into traditional efforts. But perhaps I am biased because I received my masters degree in IMC (Integrated Marketing Communication) so lets look at the numbers and you can decide for yourself.

According to Ipsos research released in 2013, the number one way to create awareness around new brands and products is still with TV ads followed by friends and family and then the Internet. Nearly a third of consumers also turn to magazine ads (31%), social networking sites (25%), entertainment (TV shows/movies; 22%) and direct mail (21%). Even in the younger 18-34 group, the Internet becomes the primary source of discovery (59%), but TV is still third (48%).

Nielson data reports surveys of online consumers indicating the more influential forms of advertising (ones they always or sometimes take action on). People I know and opinions posted online are number one (84%) and two (70%), TV comes in at third (68%). Ads in newspapers are still number five (65%), magazine ads are eighth (62%) and billboards are just out of the top ten (57%). These charts say “integration” to me, not “death.”

Brands that are integrating are seeing better results. Deloitte research reports Some 86% of US consumers (aged 14+) claim to always or almost always multitask while watching TV. Almost half of Millennials this year say they use a social network while watching TV. The brands that know this are acting on it and benefiting from integration. For example, combined print advertising with online has been shown to increase intention to take action by 85%. And combined use of Twitter has also delivered greater results for traditional TV by increasing awareness, favorability and intent.

I am still a social media fan and highly suggest that all brands need to jump into social media marketing. But in your enthusiasm for the new, don’t leave behind the old. Traditional advertising is still alive and kicking and gets a boost from social media marketing. The best marketing efforts combine both in IMC fashion. Do you agree or do you see a flat line for traditional?