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BLOG@ROLL: The Storm Tracker Era

Posted Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 under bruce dierbeck, social media

I’ve had a blast doing my own amateur storm tracking this week. It started with me rolling out of bed, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, and reading the emails on my phone from the overnight hours as I made the slow walk to the coffee pot.

I read the same email that everyone else got from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. And like that, before a single coffee bean had been brewed, I awoke. I threw my metaphorical parka on, because I knew there was going to be a hell of a storm on its way. The price hike was one thing; look at the backlash that caused on social media networks everywhere. But you’d swear they would have learned form that … right?

Twitter. Facebook. Tumblr. Even the prehistoric internet – CBs.

Everyone, everywhere griped about the price hike earlier this year. And who isn’t? In this economy, nobody wants to see another luxury cost them more, despite delivering the same. Often times, though, people will gripe and then get over it.

But rather than being all bark and no bite, people acted on it by leaving Netflix in large numbers. You could see it starting on the social networks as retweets and reblogs filled about people’s outrage at this.

Social networks have allowed us all to be these storm trackers. Watching a flurry of comments here and there, only to combine, grow, and turn into a PR blizzard bad enough to impact the productivity of even the biggest companies.

This Netflix hullaballoo has been a fascinating case study, watching it all unfold over social media.

What seemed like it must have been damage control due to the negativity surrounding their price hike, their latest email only fanned the flames, causing even more outrage. First prices went up, then another studio decided not to allow their content to be distributed through them starting early next year, and now they’re going to divide the company and further ignore the customers’ user-experience by making them manage their viewing habits – and payments – across multiple websites?

More cost. Less content. Extra work. Really?! Are you sure about this, Netflix? Just save face while you can. Backpedal. You can play it off as a Candid Camera goof if you really wanted to, in honor of the series now streaming on your network. Something. Anything.

Every move has people scratching their heads. Did Tommy Boy take over the company from Daddy CEO?

It shows just how quickly the giants can crumble these days. Just earlier this year, people were using Netflix’s slaying of the Blockbuster beast as a case study of how a once-unstoppable company could go under. The quicker the data transfers from person to person, the faster bad decisions can reach and poison a company’s central nervous system. No company is immune to this. Not Blockbuster. Not Netflix. Not MySpace. Not Facebook.

After two days [at the time of publishing] of blogs and social media still hammering away at Netflix, they’ve yet to attempt to dig out of this latest storm. Are they waiting to ride the storm out? Is it smart to avoid the elements right now and to wait for the winds to die down? Or will they be abandoned and forgotten about before they’re able to emerge from it?

We’ll be monitoring this ongoing storm and keep you posted.

Bruce_DierbeckBruce is the Director of Client Services at Roll Mobile.

He is a lover of good music, bad puns and ugly sweater vests. Want to learn more about adding mobile components to complement your existing marketing strategies? Or have a BLOG@ROLL topic you’d like us to explore?

Contact or on Twitter via @RollMobile.

  • Athena

    I enjoy Netflix very much and will not be canceling my service over this. Frankly, I like the content, with or without the latest from Starz. Canceling only hurts me, and it’s still far cheaper than any cable subscription. 

    Then again, I’m stream-only. (As everyone should be.) To me, it seems very natural that the company would charge more for shipping DVDs and that the two divisions should be split. However, they could’ve made that an internal decision, affecting back-end processing, rather than issuing this reactionary Qwikster decision.

    What I don’t understand is why people left in a furor over the “hike” (which wasn’t all that much, considering what they get from the service), but they roll over and accept ever-increasing cable, gas and food prices. Is it merely the pace; those companies move prices up slowly, so consumers simply grow a tolerance?

  • Anonymous

    I’m with you in that the price increase didn’t matter to me. I felt like the new rate was still actually fair for what I was using it for and getting from it. Of course, now that by next year I will be losing a whole fraction of the library I was once paying for, yet pricing won’t come down to reflect that – this is where I become a little less forgiving. I will be curious to see what pricing looks like for each of Netflix and Qwikster; I feel like they’re just going to cause people to pick a side rather than expecting people to keep both.

    I think social media gives people more of a voice to speed up a process for or against something, compared to that of years past. And we’re seeing this with Netflix, for example. And you’re completely right – cable, gas, and food continue to increase, yet people seem to grumble while not actually doing anything about it. But then again, it’s a lot easier to log into your Netflix and hit “Cancel” than it is to put your car into storage or to stop eating in response to those price hikes. Until there’s a better alternative, people will continue to grin and bear it, I guess.

    Appreciated the discussion, Athena!

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