"They don't care about users enough. They just don't" ...Gary Vaynerchek

Have you ever heard of  Gary Vaynerchuk?  He is a successful Internet businessman, writer and regular speaker at events like SXSW.   I like Vaynerchuk because he has a NY swagger and the requisite subway language so he feels like a neighbor when I listen to his keynotes and random video blogs.  Beyond that, Gary is a hell of a smart guy who has interesting things to say about how companies need to think and act in order to be successful in an online world.

Gary talks about the "thank you economy" and has written a popular book with the same title.  The idea is businesses need to use the Internet to engage customers and build positive relationships.  He thinks most businesses use the Internet like "19 year old guys" who want to "close the deal too fast."  Rather than take time to understand customers and respond to their needs, most businesses use internet tools to spam out links to sale opportunities and push out "content" to potential customers.  Vaynerchek contends that businesses "don't care about users enough. They just don't."

Gary talks about when he was building his online wine business he would search twitter for words like "Merlot" and answer people's questions.  He did not spam them with a link to the site where he sold Merlot, he just answered their question thereby building trust and planting the seed of a relationship.  Eventually he had a customer who turned to him for their Merlot purchases.  Vaynerchek doesn't pretend to care about his customers, he demonstrates that he *does* care.  What a concept.

I was listening to the video below today and I got to thinking about the latest kerfuffle between Linden Lab and users.  LL put out policy statements that did not sit well with the user community.  Predictably, users got mad and used all the tools available to them to make their displeasure known.  Loudly.  Various bloggers have admonished other bloggers about the unproductive way in which they lash out at Linden Lab.  The dysfunctional cycle continues, to the dismay of all.

The new business reality is a single disgruntled customer can really fuck a company up.   When there is a group of pissed off customers, it can be a big problem for an organization.  Any individual with a cell phone can spew all kinds of garbage, true or not, to thousands of people in an instant. That is the environment in which we live and it is the environment in which Linden Lab and all other businesses operate in 2012.

So what would Gary Vaynerchuk say about the dysfunctional relationship between Linden Lab and its customers?   I can guess he would wonder why Linden Lab is not reaching out to the angry, loud, critical community and talking to them. I can guess he would say LL should care enough about users to develop personal relationships with them, particularly those who have a habit of writing critical things about Second Life on the Internet.

Most importantly, I think Vaynerchuk would suggest the responsibility for repairing the broken relationship falls squarely on the shoulders of Linden Lab if they want to cultivate a growing, happy customer base.  If customers are that unhappy with the relationship they have with Linden Lab they will eventually lose interest and move on to other competing services.  It really is that simple.

Hat tip to Will Burns who pointed me to this video.  It is long but I really encourage you to watch.  I promise you it is worth your time.


Angie Mornington said...

Awesome post Chestnut! I love Gary V. and have learned a lot from his videos. I bet he could really lay down the reality for LL but I don't think LL could handle it lol. I would love for him to check out Second Life and see what he thinks.

Chestnut Rau said...

I would too Angie. I hope Gary's complete command of the internet leads him to this post! How funny would it be if he read this and offered his insights about the LL/user community ongoing battle?

Hey a girl can dream, right?


Mr. Crap Mariner said...

Well said.

"I can guess he would wonder why Linden Lab is not reaching out to the angry, loud, critical community and talking to them."

As opposed to being reached out to and having my pocket continuously picked.


Bunjie said...

Unfortunately Linden Lab has a very large progressively negative section of residents and ex-residents who can't be dealt with no matter how much apologies and groveling LL does towards them.

Not all of it was Linden Labs fault, granted they did some terrible things in the past that the overall community hated, but the problem is not just the overall community it's the section that's latched onto SL and is trying to take it down with them.

Linden Lab has residents that don't even login but attend the forums daily just to cause trouble because they relish the drama, causing or being apart thereof.

Go look at mySL as an example, you have narcissistic trolls like pserendipity.daniels who rarely log into inSL and has nothing better todo than to share / direct abuse and carry over drama from the LL forums while the so called 'Venus (mentor) and little Miss narcissistic photo shoot grant him social immunity as their attack dog, residents like him are the issue where hes been a 5 year attendee under many accounts (self confessed) and never accepts 'words online hurt' or any responsibility for his actions, thinks he's contributed to getting Lindens fired because he lied that 'one argued with him' and other such trash he spouts.

And as for the overall community, don't forget that Second Life is a simulation / social development platform that enables residents to do things they can't do inRL, so they sure as hell have emotional baggage and that is usually flung at each other and then at Linden Lab.

This is why Linden Lab gives up and moves on as fast as possible, so as not to agitate the buzzing swarm of flies around their piles of garbage (mistakes).

Which would then make Jumpman Lane the Lord of the flies, go look at his Twitter it's like hes stuck fighting himself (punching himself in the face) or is fabricating enemies to justify his existence inSL while buying 'followers' to exaggerate his influence that is really 0.

So to recap Linden Lab can't please or get much positive reactions out of the emotionally negative that will always look to pick LL apart, aka those that project their inRL issues and stuff onto Linden Lab as the 'bad guy' because they lack power to fight authority inRL.

Bunjie said...

And just to be clear, when hamiltonrp (turned out to be a 16yo) went to the forums to express a genuine opinion about something he had first hand experience of and wanted to get help to express it towards LL's attention what happened?

Well because he had an opinion that was contrary to what one woman thought (she ended up temp-suppended for harassing him), Venus and Pep and their friends railed on him like they do against Linden Lab.

So why should Linden Lab listen to narcissists? who push their opinions over others with no care about the social fall out? that only care about 'them being no1' or seen as X, Y, Z like Jumpman Lane wants to be seen as 'king of sl'. That's what a large part of SL is filled with, that shadows real residents looking to have an experience or have fun with friends through the platform.

It's perceptually narcissists like little miss photo shoot that bombs the trending with her own snapshots that puts other genuine residents off trying the service or the feature to share a genuine moment that is not a pre-fabracted snapshot that the only has the 'experience' in between of setting it up was choosing the clothes and the next 'popular destination' to goto.

This is why Linden Lab want to keep it on the down low because those who have a genuine opinion will get socially attacked and will just be a prime example to others of why not to speak up on issues that effect them and other real residents.

Because that's the issue LL has that most of the loudest and nasty are narcissistic fakes, frauds and only looking out for themselves and the expense of Linden Lab and everyone who uses the service.

Pussycat Catnap said...

"Unfortunately Linden Lab has a very large progressively negative section of residents and ex-residents who can't be dealt with no matter how much apologies and groveling LL does towards them."

I really don't think this is true at all.

Time and again, anytime LLs has done something write, those so-called whackadoodles have been there to point out what went -right-.

Its take a very shortsighted memory to fail to recall that for the last year most of us have been cheering on Linden Labs over Mesh, Rod's apparent until last week different attitude, a slew of server improvements, and many other things. While pointing out things still needing work - we've been generally positive for the last year.

So you have to willfully ignore that to claim the above... and the pretend that a company doesn't have the duty to manage its own customer service, that it can blame its customers for such failings... that's just bad sense...

Pussycat Catnap said...

This apparently includes whackadoodles like me that can't spell 'right' right when I write too fast...

In fact I consider myself a perfect example of this. For the past year I've been cheering on a lot of things. Probably to the point of driving some people nuts with my constant cheering.
- For the past 2 weeks I've been bitter like a wet cat with sharp claws in a dirty sack tossed into the river with a Linden to share my company... But he tossed us into the river before climbing into that sack...
- All while still cheering on mesh and improved screenshotting tools in forums and blogs...

Whackadoodle? Or just able to see one thing one way and another another way?

I'd wager, and my own read of blogs seems to concur, that most are like me on this - we can toast a good deed, then shred them with our claws over another.
- Its a grave disservice to good communication to label any of us as either 'cheerleaders' or 'whackadoodles'.

MC said...

im sorry to say but:
secondlife is after all just a glorified facebook with integrated MSN.

grievers you find everywhere. let them be. do your thing and ignore the stuff you dont care about?


Anonymous said...

Bunjie, have you lost your mind?

Pep said...

Lost it? No, Bunjie sold it. He got a great price for it, which isn't surprising since it was almost unused.

Pep (now recycles sexist jokes in a non-discriminatory way.)

Venus Petrov said...

Punk...I mean Bunjie! Are you still upset that I blocked you from my feed?

Chestnut Rau said...

Bunjie I guess I have to take your word for what happens on the forums. I honestly never read them but what you describe sounds terrible.

I will say community management is something Linden Lab seems to struggle with and has over the years. There are always going to be people who are out of control and no amount of rational conversation is going to help. But, I do think the LL struggles with effective communication as has clearly been demonstrated time and time again.

I honestly don't know what the solution is to make things better. Users have legitimate concerns that are drowned out by the rantings of a small minority. LL does indeed get slammed and I completely understand why they shut out the noise. I would do the same. However, the blame game gets all of us absolutely no where, does it.

I am looking for rhetoric that goes beyond "LL sucks and SL is about to die" and "Stop acting like spoiled children and enjoy SL or shut up and go to Open sim."

I am looking to Linden Lab to show leadership and work with those of us who love Second Life to figure out a way to resolve problem and move the community beyond this endless sniping at each other.