Friday, February 03, 2017

#DeleteUber (also known as #LyftFTW)

There's been a consumer vs. brand--and brand vs. brand--showdown this past week, and it's been fascinating to watch it play out online.  About a week ago, news surfaced that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was officially participating in President Trump's strategic and policy forum.  Consumers quickly took this to mean Kalanick was endorsing Trump's agenda and campaign (specifically his (downright evil, sorry) reject immigration ban). 

Consumers quickly began deleting their Uber accounts in protest.  Within hours, #DeleteUber started trending on Twitter and Facebook.  As this was happening, Kalanick tweeted in response, saying he'd use his position on the council for good, to "stand up for what's right."  But people weren't buying it. #DeleteUber continued to trend.  More than 200,000 accounts deleted.

At the same time, competitor Lyft took advantage of the situation and made a really smart, real-time move: they emailed customers condemning Trump's order and announcing they were donating $1 million to the ACLU.  

As a result (and as #DeleteUber continued to trend), Lyft went from a #39 ranking in the free apps charts for iPhone to #7 and then to #4, ahead of Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook.  Lyft saw more downloads than Uber on iOS in the US for the first time ever on Sunday, January 29th.

In the end, and really just over the course of a week, Kalanick decided his position on the council wouldn't be tolerated by a huge portion of his user base.  He officially announced he was stepping away from the council.  He also announced he'd be setting up a $3 million dollar legal defense fund to aid affected drivers.

I think this is all a really good example of how social media and the power of two-way communication has shifted power from brands to consumers.  Brands can no longer control the agenda and force consumers to play along.  Consumers react, loudly, and brands follow or they're forgotten.  The #DeleteUber campaign also shows how competitors, if they're quick and if they're smart, can take advantage of one brand's fall from grace to gain publicity, consumer attention, and market share--that hopefully endures over time.

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