Twitter has millions of passionate and observant users who will notice every time a new button is added or a new “promoted” thing shows up on the site. The San Francisco company provides guidelines for businesses using its social network, and when prompted for Twitter’s own philosophy, a spokeswoman highlighted a line from that Best Practices page:
“Listen regularly for comments about your company, brand and products — and be prepared to address concerns, offer customer service or thank people for praise,” she quoted.
In other words, don’t ignore the negativity.
Facebook, with 500 million active members, knows push-back perhaps better than anyone. sometimes the Palo Alto, Calif., developers lose (see: Beacon). sometimes they win (News Feed). But judging by Facebook’s reactions in the past, these issues are usually handled as such: The company lets things stew for a bit and eventually finds either a mountain or a molehill.
Molehills disappear rather quickly.
Mountains normally get addressed through company blog posts, often by Chief Mark Zuckerberg. those messages have offered an excuse, some reasoning or an unusual alternative. (To ease privacy concerns, Facebook said users could vote on a sort of bill of Rights. Few opted to participate, and so the program mostly fell by the wayside.)
Beacon, a veritable Everest, resulted in a $9.5-million settlement.
Reddit may have benefited the most from Digg users’ revolt this week, but the small company has had to deal with tantrums of its own in the past. though, compared with Digg’s, “We’ve never had anything quite like that,” Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian said in an interview with The Times.
But Ohanian seems to think Digg is scaling its mountain reasonably well.
“It’s important to remember that you’re still running the site, and you’re responsible for doing what’s best for it,” said Ohanian, who is no longer involved in Reddit’s daily operations. “It’s impossible to please everyone. And it’s important to be wary of the silent majority, who will never let you know how they feel.”
Digg‘s response aligns with Ohanian’s advice and that of Facebook. Founder Kevin Rose, who was filling in as interim CEO until Tuesday, wrote a blog post addressing many complaints and offering fixes in the future. a Digg spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.
While Rose maintains a great deal of influence at Digg, those decisions may ultimately fall on the shoulders of the new chief.
“Introducing change is never easy, and bringing something as radically different as Digg version 4 was bound to generate a strong reaction,” Rose wrote in a statement announcing the hiring of Williams. “We are absolutely listening and really value everyone’s feedback as we take Digg in new directions.”
So Williams will have plenty to mull over as he reshapes the fast-changing company. Rose offered some thoughts in an interview with AllThingsD about Williams’ new role: “It’s a pain in the ass and something I would never wish on my worst enemy.”
— Mark Miliantwitter.com/markmilian
Photo: From left to right, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, StumbleUpon founder Garrett Camp, Digg founder Kevin Rose. Credit: Tony Pierce / Los Angeles Times