Negative Social Media Campaigns: A Game You Don't Want To Play

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Deliberately launching a negative Twitter campaign is stupid and self-defeating. It’s like kicking a hornets’ nest…and asking the hornets to go sting your annoying next-door neighbor.

Microsoft didn’t get the memo:

Microsoft’s Windows Phone team reignited its #droidrage Twitter stunt this week, a campaign that offers free Windows Phones to Android malware victims. After originally creating it almost a year ago, Microsoft has remained relatively quiet in its anti-Android quest. Earlier this week, the official Windows Phone Twitter account kicked off #droidrage again in a series of Tweets including “wait for your Android phone to get infected with malware” and “buy a Windows Phone and connect with people you care about instead of some hacker plotting in a dank basement.”

Microsoft’s social media team obviously expected this to turn out well. I can’t figure out why.

First, the campaign set off a backlash in the form of a #windowsrage hashtag that quickly swamped whatever point Microsoft hoped to make with its own campaign:

“Bought a Windows Phone and there are a total of 6 apps #windowsrage.”

“I once thought about writing malware for a @windowsphone but then I thought, aren’t they suffering enough? #DroidRage #WindowsRage”

But wait, it gets worse. This kind of backlash inevitably sets off a feedback loop where the media amplifies the impact, which in turn sets off an even bigger dogpile. Check out this screen capture for a sampling of the commentary that has completely taken over the #droidrage thread.describe the image

There’s no spinning a mess like this. If you’re considering a negative social media campaign, think about the “return” Microsoft is getting on this investment and ask yourself whether this approach makes any sense — ever.

-Matthew McKenzie

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