Column: The Impact of the Negative Twitter Reviews on Brands

The website Rave Reviews published a study on the most hated brands in the world,
pointing out how negative reviews on Twitter may impact them. Using the SentiStrength
social media sentiment analysis tool, developed by a professor of computer science at
the University of Wolverhampton, this company analyzed more than a million tweets
about 100 of the biggest brands worldwide.

The data was collected and analyzed, showing the percentage of positive and negative
tweets received by each brand’s name, and sorting them by location and category. Here
are some of the most relevant findings:

-Uber, a well-known company that has been controversial for allegedly
mistreating its drivers and inflating prices during the pandemic, is the most hated
brand in the United States. Almost half of the tweets about it were negative.

-Domino’s Pizza was the most hated fast-food brand, maybe due to the increase
in pizza delivery orders during the pandemic. In Argentina, for instance, the fast-food
chain with the worst Twitter reviews was McDonald’s; in Colombia it was Starbucks.

-As for Google, it was not well-reviewed in Chile and Argentina.

Considering the caveats mentioned above, regarding the study’s theoretical framework,
these results serve as a strong indicator of the brands’ customer service. As to Uber, for
example, the study shows that people tend to tweet about expensive fares, feeling
unsafe, stinky cars, unjustified trip cancellations, and other unprofessional behaviors.

On the other hand, Lego received negative tweets from customers complaining about
missing parts in their sets or how expensive the toys were. Many parents even tweeted
about how painful it was to step barefoot on tiny toy bricks. In turn, Domino's received
unhappy tweets from customers whose pizza arrived late or cold.

While the study did not look at how brands address these negative comments on
Twitter, it is known that many of them have customer service agents to expertly respond
to complaints on this and other social media platforms. However, this may actually
encourage consumers to express their discomfort via Twitter.

Does this mean brands shouldn’t use Twitter? No. On the contrary, this implies that:

a) Not every negative comment should be seen as a “crisis”.
b) A vast majority of the communication problems are caused mainly by
operational issues.
c) It is essential to respond rapidly and/or establish other channels to attend to
customers’ complaints, taking them offline as quickly as possible. In other words,
brands should not mix channels for promotional and customers service purposes.

Anyways, it’s not all bad for a brand to have some negative tweets. Indeed, this shows
that customers have an actual relationship with it, which can go through good and bad
times. However, negative opinions from customers could be much more harmful to
small companies that are not yet very well-known.

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