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Want to Spread Your Message? An Angry Tweet May Be the Answer

September 17, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228433

Feel like screaming? The social-media world is listening.

Angry messages on social-media networks are far more contagious than messages expressing sadness, disgust, even joy, according to a team of researchers at Beihang University.

The study tracked 70 million posts on Weibo, China's version of Twitter. Angry tweets were more likely to influence others -- through simple retweeting or by inspiring new angry messages – up to three degrees away from the original user.

Related: Easy Tips for Writing Better Tweets (Infographic)

This is hardly surprising. While the study found that online rage in China is primarily directed at international conflicts and domestic social problems, stateside, it seems, Twitter is often by customers as a tool to publicly rant about bad customer service.

Study or no study, most media-savvy businesses already know that angry messages on social media are powerful; unless immediately dealt with and contained, they can easily lead to a wildfire of bad publicity.

One recent example: A British Airways customer, pissed off that the airline had lost his father's luggage, bought a string of promoted tweets to complain about the situation. The tweets went viral before the airline bothered to respond.

On the other side of the spectrum: Back in summer 2012, the mobile company O2 experienced widespread network problems. Thousands of customers took to Twitter to vent. Instead of ignoring the problem, O2 immediately joined the conversation, engaging with customers through apologetic, honest, and often funny tweets.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Creating a Social-Media Marketing Plan