Warm Beer and Terrible Food: Socially Selling Negativity

My cohort @shawnvincent recently made a great point about this graphic:

"OWNING negative comments. I've always thought a couple negative comments give credence to the good comments. And so often the negative comments are clearly authored by someone who is CRAZY."

Then I promptly told him that I was stealing his comment and creating this post. So <cue “Holiday Road”> let's do this.

Remember when you were a kid facing backward in the third-class section of a station wagon while your dad drove cross-country? As Dad made good on his promise to “… show you kids the REAL America,” you would inevitably come across a roadside bar with the slogan, "Warm Beer. Terrible Food."

Places like that were always customer magnets. Little did you know at the time – but the owners of those mom-and-pop joints were teaching an early social media lesson.

The problem is that most of us overlook the simple truth in that slogan because our clients are too busy pissing their pants whenever some anonymous hater makes a negative comment.

 "Oh no, Justice! Some bad person said an awful thing that might prevent us from getting the non-accountable "brand lift" within our <favorite new buzz term> "sphere of influence" </favoriste new buzz term>."

Well, SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, SALLY! This party is just getting started. Let's hope for your sake that most of your comments, threads and engagements are positive. If so, why not take advantage of the occasional venom-oozing troll. It’s time to "embrace the hate!"

Seriously, nothing shows more honesty than copping to the fact that you're human and prone to the occasional mistake. No matter how great your restaurant is, you might accidently serve a non-chilled beer and a bad burger now and then.

Litigious caveat: Please apply this technique at your own risk. This is just a comment, and I would never advocate that you make fun of, disregard or harass the author of a genuine comment. YOU MUST treat each comment with the highest of professionalism.

OK - I feel better.

Now back to making hay with a comment from an asshat. If someone says, "This (thing) is the shittiest product ever made, and you're a fool to even consider buying it." That's not simply an attack on the brand and the client, it's an attack on the audience for liking it, too!

Here's your leverage point.

Ask the members of your social graph if they agree with "ANGRYGUY1984." Tell them you would love to know their thoughts because it will help you improve your product. The point is that even negative criticism can be a positive fulcrum to your brand impression IF you take the time to position it correctly. There are times you're going to simply have to bite-the-bullet and trust that your brand loyalists are going to see where you're going and back you.

You'll need thick skin and a bit of wit. But I bet you'll pull through with shining colors.

Tell me how it goes. If it blows up in your face, I was never here.