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Flickr’s Genius Response to Criticism: “Then Come and Help.”

Criticism Sucks.

It does, and as people in the business world: we’ll all get it at some point. The more successful you want to be, the more publicly known you have to be. And the more publicly known you are, the more everyone has an opinion about everything you do. No matter how popular your actions, there’s always some that don’t like them. And ironically the smaller the minority the louder they seem to voice their opinions.

Criticism Against Flickr:

As new Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer has already dealt with tons of online speculation about her pregnancy, and whether or not her body/body parts are resilient enough to handle a shorter than normal maternity leave (which possibly ranks among the biggest “you shouldn’t have an opinion on this, it’s not your business” subjects that I’ve ever seen). But now she’s got a new set of criticisms popping up that are a bit better executed: dearmarissamayer.com. Here’s a screenshot below:

To be fair, it’s not criticism of Marissa, just criticism that is now Marissa’s job to deal with.

Is it a big deal? Well, not at first. It’s just some website that expresses someone’s opinion. Not exactly a rarity on the internet. Then it went viral. As of this writing: 14.7 thousand tweets and over 9 thousand facebook sharesScratch that, that was last night when I started writing this. As of mid-day today that has skyrocketed to 23.5 thousand tweets and 12.4 thousand facebook shares.

How To Respond?

Honestly, silence is usually the best response to this type of thing. But with the level of publicity that site is getting…ignoring it just wasn’t an option any more. So in what I assume is probably one of the earliest decisions Marissa has had to make as CEO, flickr created a truly genius response: then come help us do it.

They posted this page on their website:

The genius is in a few forms:

It’s not a rebuttal, it’s an acceptance. Obviously there’s a lot of people in agreement here. So rebutting it with statements about how flickr really is awesome is just gonna fall flat and hurt badly. You have to accept these people’s views at this point.

Though at the same time, it doesn’t truly say that flickr doesn’t believe it’s not already awesome. It manages to accept and acknowledge the criticism without debasing itself as inferior; only recognizing that it has room to be better by using the word “Awesomer”. Genius.

It gives a clear outlet for the criticizers to take action. In a way it places the burden back on the criticizers. If you want flickr better, here’s your opportunity: come and work for us! By showing a willingness to bring in these opinions and giving a clear avenue for the people with these opinions to take action, flickr quelled a lot of possible backlash and probably turned this PR issue into a great viral marketing campaign. How’s that for a smart play?

Have you had any public criticisms that you had to deal with? How did you handle them, and what were the results? Let me know in the comments!


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