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3 Principles to Learn from Netflix’s Tweet

At Think Creative we love social media so whenever something unusual or delightful happens in the sphere we pay attention. Earlier this week, Netflix made a tweet that was very successful if you were to look at just the public numbers of engagement, but was Netflix’s tweet really a good idea? The high engagement is surely due to the controversial nature of the tweet and the attention it garnered. Was it worth it?

Netflix is a well known company. Their presence on social media is less about alerting people to their existence and more about promoting their original movies and television shows and letting people know about their other programming. So a controversial tweet doesn’t necessarily make the most sense as a way of drawing attention to the company. Receiving a high number of likes and retweets by virtue of making people uncomfortable seems like a strange end goal for the tweet. What can we learn from Netflix’s tweet?

Know the Purpose of Your Tweets

Know the Purpose

It is not unusual for companies or brands to attempt humor in their Tweets. Various casual dining and fast food chains are known for keeping their tweets light and having fun with their followers. Mastery of this kind of tone is essential, though. Why are you talking to your followers and customers this way? What do you hope to achieve? Who is your target demographic and will you alienate others by taking this approach? Consider these questions carefully because there are no “take-backs” in social media. Every post should be thought through especially those that stray from your brand or business’s established voice.

Use Data Sensitively

Use Information Sensitively

The biggest shocker in Netflix’s tweet was that they used information and data that their customers may know they have but don’t necessarily want to be reminded that they have. By specifically calling out a segment of their customer’s viewing habits, they put everyone on notice that they have this data and not only do they have it, they are willing to turn around and use it. Even if this statistic was completely fabricated, the tweet reminds their customers that Netflix is watching and taking note. Yes, we live in a time where we know our data is being recorded by the digital companies we use. We don’t expect to broadcast the data on their social media accounts, however. Considering we pay Netflix money for a service it is even worse. If the statistic was true about how many people have watched A Christmas Prince, you can only imagine how those customers might feel to see the company mocking their viewing habits publicly.

Furthermore, many people brought up the knowledge that those on the autism spectrum tend to watch the same program every single day. Netflix’s tweet seems to put down the behavior of repetitive viewing and as such sticks out like a sore thumb. As a company, you don’t want to devalue your customers and their use of your product for any reason. But you especially want to be sensitive to those who experience society in a different way from the mainstream. Suggesting that they have been hurt and that’s why they are using your product so much doesn’t seem like a good way to earn their favor. It also calls into question exactly who has access to this data. Does the social media team know the viewing habits and patterns of Netflix users? Can anyone in the company access this information if they want to? Are they free to share that information as they please?

Don't Disparage Your Own Brand

Don’t Disparage Your Own Brand

Beyond the other two issues, what remains puzzling is the idea that Netflix would put down their own product. They essentially communicated that their movie wasn’t worth watching 18 days in a row and that anyone who did enjoy it that much must have been hurt by someone. Considering A Christmas Prince falls into the romance genre, this sort of mockery is not unusual. But A Christmas Prince is a Netflix original movie and so belittling the devotion of their customers instead of being thrilled by it is confusing.

In short, Netflix’s decision to send a tweet revealing data about user’s behavior in a way that belittles their customers and questions the quality of their own brand is a strange choice at best.

The tweet certainly garnered attention as it received 114K retweets and over 400K likes as of the writing of this piece. That’s an incredible accomplishment on Twitter. But still we have to go back to point number one and question the purpose of the tweet. At the end of the day, there’s a strong chance that they made their customers more uneasy and a bit less trustful of the company on the whole. At the very least, they reminded everyone they are watching and that they aren’t necessarily using your data just to give you better recommendations.

Response to tweet

Response

As mentioned, the tweet received a lot of attention from the internet. Most of it was not positive. When a company comes under fire on social media for their social media, they usually respond in some way. Netflix did though it didn’t show up on their Twitter account but as an official statement. Per Entertainment Weekly:

The privacy of our members’ viewing is important to us. This information represents overall viewing trends, not the personal viewing information of specific, identified individuals.

While it is true that they didn’t give out names and addresses, it is the nature of the way they shared the information that will linger in the minds of their customers.

Of course, if you catch a rival making a social media blunder like this one, you can always follow Lifetime’s lead and turn it to your advantage.

What did you think about the tweet? For another take, check out Mashable’s article about the darker nature of Netflix’s tweet. And don’t miss our post on 9 common Twitter mistakes to avoid.