Tech News On TikTok, companies have started trolling customers Share Tweet Share Share Email Comments On the app, more and more companies respond sarcastically and impertinently to complaints: a risky practice that betrays a lack of familiarity with the medium When Jack Remmington emerged from the London swimming pool where he had gone for a swimming session at the end of October he found himself in ” what can only be described as a deluge “. Luckily for him, the 28-year-old presenter and content creator had invested £20 in a brand new Uniqlo umbrella. He opened it and took out his phone to document the downpour. While he was intent on filming, however, the umbrella broke . Once safe and dry, Remmington uploaded to TikTok – where he has nearly 66,000 followers who appreciate his hyperbolic humor – a video of him ranting and thrashing in the rain. He didn’t tag Uniqlo on the app, but he did on Twitter, a platform where social media managers tend to respond directly to customer complaints . The brand did not respond to the tweet, but Remmington received a comment on TikTok a day later. Uniqlo edited a stitch of his video and posted a clip of an umbrella with human eyes added. According to Remmington, it was the company’s way of saying, ” Oops, haha, what have we been up to? “. An increasingly common trend On TikTok customer service is not always so functional. Low-cost airline Ryanair has 1.8 million followers on the app, which it has garnered mostly from the sassy way it responds to its passengers . A video released last August , which got 14.4 million views and is titled ” When you understand that no matter how much they complain, they will still want with you “, shows a plane laughing (the press office did not respond to a Wired UK ‘s request for comment ). Ryanair regularly uses a TikTok filter that allows users to superimpose eyes and a mouth on an inanimate object (the same one used by Uniqlo in its response to Remmington). Now it seems that the airline’s success on the social network could usher in a new era of “blatant” customer service . When Ryanair joined Twitter in 2013, the company’s tweets were candid and direct ; at the time, most business accounts were polite and professional. But then things changed. In 2014, The New Inquiry covered the rise of the trend of “quirky corporate Twitter”, in which brand accounts began to use the same tone and tone as the profiles managed by individual users . With the migration of brands to TikTok, the situation has apparently become even more extreme. The question, however, is whether the method is always accepted by customers . ” I’m not sure if it suits me, to be honest ” – comments Remmington, who considers the Uniqlo joke amusing despite being done at his expense -. I don’t mind being laughed at; I always get teased. But it’s kind of like they’re saying to me, ‘We’re not going to fix this, we’re just going to laugh about it’, which isn’t exactly the best.” It seems that Uniqlo was experimenting with a new and bolder social media strategy : when Wired UK contacted the company, a spokesperson said: “On this occasion, our response was not up to standard. We are currently reviewing how we handle customer complaints on social networking sites to make sure this doesn’t happen again .” The brand later removed its reply to Remmington on TikTok. Remmington also received a private message from Uniqlo on Instagram, in which the company explained that, in addition to the video, it planned to send a private message to the creator and offer him a replacement umbrella as a gift as an apology. The person who sent the message to Remmington hinted that they knew his content and the self-deprecation he used on TikTok: apparently the video was an attempt to use the same style . Remmington said he was satisfied with the apology and adds that he doesn’t hold a grudge against the brand. All’s well that ends well, in short. But one wonders if missteps like Uniqlo’s are likely to become more common as companies try to navigate TikTok. Language-learning app Duolingo has five million followers on the platform, who love its over-the-top content featuring the company’s mascot, an owl named Duo; however, in May one of the brand’s social media managers had to apologize after making fun of Amber Heard ‘s testimony about being subjected to domestic abuse. In September, after an unpopular change to the app made its users protest, Duolingo responded with a sarcastic video to a customer who said they were leaving the app. The caption of the video, accompanied by ironic hashtags, reads: ” You really make me cry when you say you’re leaving “. Commenting on the video, which garnered nearly five hundred likes, we read: ” I’m glad you care so much about your customers… “. The disorientation of brands In the case of Duolingo, the confusion seems to be due to the fact that the company does not consider TikTok as a place to handle customer problems : ” On Twitter, our support team responds directly to customers to solve their problems ” – explains Katherine Chan, the company’s head of social media and influencer strategy –. But he doesn’t use TikTok in the same way . “ While Twitter, Instagram and Facebook allow companies to decide whether to allow private messages from any user, on TikTok it is not possible. Platform rules prevent users from communicating privately with accounts that don’t follow them. This is why TikTok is not the natural habitat of customer service . Perhaps it is understandable that companies use TikTok mostly in a joking way, but this approach can lead to problematic situations when faced with legitimate customer complaints. The risks for companies Sphurti Sewak, an assistant professor of marketing and logistics at Florida International University, studies how brands use memes on social media. According to Sewak, companies have started using impertinent tones on Twitter (just think of the American fast food chain Wendy’s, which has been pestering its competitors on the platform since 2017 ). Sewak believes Ryanair shouldn’t be given credit for adopting a bold social media strategy: ‘ They probably copied Wendy’s, going even further’ . Given Ryanair’s success, other companies could soon follow in its footsteps, angering customers . ” Rude replies involve consumers a lot, but they can be decidedly counterproductive – underlines Sewak -. Low-cost airlines like Ryanair can get away with it because they have the advantage of offering what their competitors do not offer “. For other brands, rudeness can be more risky : ” Impertinence is one thing, being consistently rude is another. Ultimately, customers keep them in business ,” adds Sewak. His research found that there are those who find this type of behavior on social media inappropriate and stop using the products of the brands in question: the same expert is one of these people. Remmington wouldn’t have objected if Uniqlo had flipped him out publicly but apologized privately from the start, and now he’s glad that it is. While the idea that brand social media accounts are run by interns is a myth, it’s obviously true that the people behind these accounts are human beings who can make mistakes. However, it seems that for customers , face-to-face interaction still trumps social interaction : shortly after watching Uniqlo’s TikTok, Remmington returned the umbrella to the store where he bought it, getting a full refund. Advertisement Related Items: Share Tweet Share Share Email Click to comment Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment * Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.