Don’t Hurt Your Customers While Defending Your Brand

By @ 12/11/12 in Everything, Marketing Trends, Social Media and Tech

If you’re like us (and you’re probably not, we’re super nerdy about these things), you’ve been keeping a close eye on the ongoing Twitter v. Instagram feud. Officially, it’s a strategic distancing of one social platform from another in an effort to maintain market share while not enhancing a competitor’s share for free. Fair enough. The situation got murkier when Facebook bought Instagram in April, tacking on the long-standing Facebook v. Twitter feud to this newer squabble. So, now, Twitter no longer allows Instagram users to find their Twitter followers on Instagram and Instagram is taking their photos off Twitter’s streams–the social media equivalent of taking their ball and going home because the other kid wouldn’t share his toys.

Another feud following a similar road is the Apple v. Samsung battle over smart phone patents. Or Facebook v. … well, it just seems like everyone. In the end, who loses? Customers. And this could be a problem for all sides. Bigger brands may take longer to see a fallout, but they certainly aren’t immune. Smaller brands face a much bigger and quicker backlash, so, if nothing else, there’s an excellent business lesson in all this:

Customers don’t want to be in the middle of an argument. They don’t want to be forced to pick sides. More often than not, a customer will walk away from anything that causes them a hassle. The more uncomfortable a relationship becomes, or the harder a brand makes it for customers to not only do business with them, but simplify their dealings across the board, the less likely that customer will stay.

That’s not to say brands should not fight for their market share or defend their brand, product and reputation against competitor attacks. Of course they should. Protecting those three things is what keeps them in business. However, when conflict happens–or a PR crisis occurs, new competitor hits the marketplace, or you have a major change in your business model–thinking through your response from all view points is essential. If your response could hurt, inconvenience or just annoy your client base more than it affects your attacker, you may want to think of a better strategy.

Photo credit: John Springer Collection/CORBIS