Pizza chain Domino’s has been all over the blogs and the news sites in the last few days for the way it handled a particularly insistent Twitter troll. And much of the commentary has pronounced how playing the troll with a very straight bat was a great strategy.
I completely disagree. For me, this was both naïve and a missed opportunity.
Domino’s responses to what was obviously someone have a bit of fun fell in the chasm between two camps; not responding at all, and responding playfully with wit and intelligence. They made what is a fun, consumer-facing fast food brand appear starchy and corporate.
As you can see, @Dominos_UK responded to the troll no less than four times simply stating that he should contact the chain’s customer services. One question: why?!
.@Dominos_UK HELLO I'VE JUST MADE LOVE TO ONE OF YOUR PIZZAS AND BURNT MY PENIS SEVERELY. PLEASE ADVISE ON YOUR TERMS FOR A REFUND. THANKS.
— LAD_VIGO (@ITK_AGENT_VIGO) February 24, 2014
‘Don’t feed the troll’ is a common and widely understood refrain, and looking at the way the guy in question continually baits brands and celebrities, the best course of action for most brands would simply be to ignore him.
But there are some brands who can legitimately engage in this sort of humorous stuff and get away with it. For me, if you are going to respond to trolls, then do it with personality, humour and style. Singer James Blunt is perhaps the (unexpected) master at doing this, actively searching out people slating him on Twitter and firing off quick-witted put downs in the manner of Jimmy Carr destroying hecklers on stage (see video below).
If you’re doing that, don’t starve the troll. OWN the troll.
The initial tweet in this instance was obviously a joke (I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think the guy REALLY burned his penis while screwing a pizza…). And so Domino’s could and, to my mind, should have taken the James Blunt approach. Having decided to feed the troll (Domino’s is, after all, in the fast food business), it could have struck up some great banter. It could have taken the Sainsbury’s tack, as highlighted in this great Storify from Gabrielle Laine-Peters.
But instead, it responded to something in customer service mode that was not even a genuine customer service issue. No humour, no personality. Pointless.
To be clear, hundreds of users chimed in on Twitter either to comment on how professional Domino’s had remained, or to abuse @ITK_AGENT_VIGO. So I guess you could say that, between that and the ensuing blog coverage, Domino’s came out with a fantastic PR result.
I’m a big fan of what Domino’s did with #DominosMeltdown just a couple of weeks ago, which I thought was a spot of genius. But if one of my social media team responded in this manner to this tweet, I’d have hauled them over the coals for it. Do it properly or don’t do it at all.
Taking on a troll effectively takes confidence, personality and bravado, and the vast majority of brands should steer well clear and ignore troll-like behaviour. But if you’ve got the right tone of voice and attitude, it can work superbly well.
What do you make of Domino’s response?
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Posted by Paul Sutton