Our family loves old movies, so we’ve been long time Netflix fans. Then came the announcement that the company was splitting its streaming and DVD services, requiring customers to conduct two separate searches for movies, have two accounts and two bills. Worse, the market anticipated Netflix would dump the DVD line soon in order to optimize streaming profits. As you have likely already heard, customers—ourselves included–weren’t pleased. Then Netflix went on to look even less user-friendly when fans discovered the Twitter handle Qwikster was already being used by a pot-smoking, foul-mouthed dude who suddenly got 500 new followers he didn’t know. Meanwhile, the tech crowd noticed that the new business had only a placeholder “coming soon” on its website.
Suddenly it wasn’t just bad customer relations, it was a social media calamity. CEO Reed Hastings wrote a mea culpa blog post this past weekend, saying the company may have misjudged in its rush to capitalize on the streaming technology. “Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly,” he wrote. As of today, his post had more than 23,000 comments. What‘s the saying—“there’s no such thing as bad publicity”?
Oh wait, the ending of that saying is “…except your own obituary.” Let’s hope this isn’t the end of Netflix. Where am I going to get all those classic movies that don’t play on TMC? Takeaway lesson for other companies: don’t forget to think about how your customers will interface with you, both online and in social networks. And be sure you own all possible social media renditions of your name, including a new Google+ identity, before you launch.