Or: How Being Rude to Your Customers Can Be a Good Thing
Note: This blog post is part of an assignment for MI 201 at Michigan State University, and is not even slightly related to the post before or posts after this.
Recently, dbrand has become well-known for their social media strategy, both in a positive and a negative sense. Their social media accounts are run by a robot (which coincidentally also resides at @robot on Twitter). These robots are not known for their friendly customer support skills, and while answering questions asked of the company will typically do it in the most snarky or flat-out rude way possible. Their interesting behavior is primarily on their Twitter account, but can also be found on their Facebook and Instagram.
So what is dbrand? dbrand is a company which makes adhesive skins for electronics (laptops, tablets, phones, etc.) in several different styles to allow customization for products which otherwise would not have any visual style options. There is a small but vocal group of people who swear by their products (myself included). This type of customer service would typically steer people away from the company, but somehow with dbrand it doesn't, and their 1.3 million Twitter followers, 250,000 Facebook followers, and 750,000 Instagram followers stick around.
Why is this? Well, we can't be entirely sure. My take on it is that while the customer service team are sarcastic, snarky, and sometimes outright rude, often provide help to the customer as well. Another possibility is that many of the questions asked of them are questions easily found by looking on the internet, and their followers deem them to be stupid questions which deserve such a response. It is entertaining to see fun made of people who are seen as unable to perform basic research. Corporate social media typically has to cater to the lowest common denominator when it comes to customer service, which typically causes worse experiences for the rest of the customers. Nobody likes being taken through twelve troubleshooting steps you've already tried just for a customer service representative to start listening to your issue.
This strategy hasn't gone unnoticed by bloggers online, who are eager to share their own opinions on the social media pages. In one article by Evan LaVigne, he discusses their crass humor and odd tactics, but then reaffirms his love for the company saying he just bought one of their products for a device that hadn't even been announced at the time. Another site breaks down the companies with the best Twitter presence. dbrand earned a spot on this top-4 list, with them citing the "robots" running the account, but then discussing their most notable tweet which was their reaction to issues with skins for the Nintendo Switch.
As they typically do when a new device is announced, dbrand made pre-orders available when the Nintendo Switch was announced as they got to work creating the actual product. Shortly thereafter, dbrand realized that the adhesive they use in their products caused damage to the Nintendo Switch. When they realized this, they quickly hopped on Twitter and started a genuine thread explaining what the issue was, announced that they will be cancelling and refunding all pre-orders, and advised not to buy skins for the Switch. About a month later, they released an updated design which would not harm the device, but this shows that while dbrand has a unique style of humor, they can also be just like any other company on social media when it really matters to customers.
In the end, there are many "right" ways for companies to run their social media pages, but most companies will run theirs in the safest (and most boring) way possible. I this safe strategy is short-sighted, especially as the prevalence of social media continues to rise and as it continues to become a better and better marketing tool for your products. Viral tweets can reach millions of people who can become interested in your product, a timeline full of replies to shipping issues only get seen by a few people who are already your customers.
You can find out more on dbrand's website at https://dbrand.com. Sources to all embedded media can be found enclosed in parentheses in the captions.