Customers who vent their anger in social media

[Updated 22.3.10]

We all know that the growth in web 2.0 has helped to shift power away from brands towards consumers but nothing demonstrates this more clearly than when you see customers using this platform to vent their anger and frustrations.  Whereas in the good ol’ days we’d have to brave the elements and take to the streets in order to be heard, nowadays we can protest from the comfort of our laptops whilst sipping a cup of Horlicks. Far more civilised!

Here are a few examples I’ve come across recently which I’ll try to update over time, but feel free to add more if you know any better ones.

Nestle’s Facebook fanpage

Rather than be a place to galvanise its legions of brand ambassadors, Nestle’s facebook page seems to be nothing more than a festering pit for aggrieved fanatics! You only need to look at the stream of comments on their wall to see that there’s unhealthy mix of consumers who use this forum to vent their anger against the brand’s unethical policies or else to rally support for their latest anti-Nestle Greenpeace initiative.

But what’s really gathered momentum recently is the backlash to the following provocative comment by Nestle moderators…

Not surprisingly the moderator was challenged by a ‘fan’ to try to embrace social media and have a conversation rather than preach.  Now surely the sensible thing to do here is to try to defuse the situation with a mix of charm, empathy and humility.  Unfortunately for Nestle, the ruffled moderator had other ideas and only succeeded in adding rocket fuel to the fire…

“Thanks for the lesson in manners. Consider yourself embraced. But it’s our page, we set the rules, it was ever thus.”

Needless to say, the backlash has been immense and on a global scale.  (via Brazen PR).


Twitter was bombarded by an avalanche of #saveBBC6music hash tags, after the Times reported that the BBC is to announce the closure of two digital radio stations: 6 Music and Asian Network.  They also have a fanbase on Facebook with 152,000 trying to save the station.

H & M – accused of being uncharitable

When H & M were caught dumping and shedding their ex-stock instead of giving it to charity it was first picked up by the New York Times. H & M chose not to respond until it became the 2nd highest trending topic on Twitter. It was only then that they decided to issue an apology on their Facebook page by which time the damage had already been done.   You can read more about this here by econsultancy.

Pears soap – Bring Back The Original Pears Soap Facebook Page

Woe betide any manufacturer who decides to change their much loved products without consulting their loyal fans.  When Unilever recently changed their formula for Original Pears Soap it created such a stink that their fans have started a fan page to get it changed back.

Thrifty – a disgruntled customer galvinises support on Twitter.

14-11-2009 13-13-13

South West Trains – a classic case of e-squatting where an aggrieved passenger for South West Trains registers the company name on Twitter and starts tweeting outlandish excuses as to why they provide such a shoddy service.  Makes for some amusing reading.


United Airlines – You’ve probably seen this one and bought the single already.  If not, this is what happened.

  • Musician gets guitar smashed in transit.
  • United Airlines ignore his complaints.
  • He writes song about it.
  • Result. 6 million views on YouTube.
  • Moral of the story – ignore angry musicians at your peril.

Easyjet – no frills airline easyjet is renown for two things. Cheap flights and crap service.


KFC – nearly half a million KFC fans campaigning to get finger lickin’ food delivered to your door. They’ve just got one more fan!kfc

Motrin – a spoof video in response to their controversial ad targeting Mums


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