Indie App PR: Keeping Control of Your Tone
May 30, 2013 01:22

I've been updating my blog and discovered this in the drafts folder. It's part 3 of a series I did a few years ago about "Indie App PR", based on what I learned in promoting and supporting Remembary: The Connected Diary. Here's Part 1, How to Handle an App Disaster and Part 2, Keeping On Top of User Feedback.

It's natural to have a bad reaction to negative comments or criticism, especially in a crisis situation where you're already feeling stressed and defensive. It's almost always a bad idea to shoot knee-jerk bile back at people - no matter how much they may deserve it. If they have valid complaints, then they'll be upset by your comments; if they're trolls, then harsh feedback will only encourage them. No matter who they are, remember that they can write anything they want in their reviews on your App Store page. They also likely have Twitter accounts and networks of friends.

Writing on-message, well toned responses to colourful criticism is some of the most difficult writing I've done. Here are some pointers:

  • Assume they have real concerns. Look at things from their point of view, and try to see where they're coming from. Most people aren't just mean for no reason - especially not to honest small-time iPad apps from independent developers.
  • Keep on the positive. Pick out the feedback that you think is actually useful and concentrate on that.
  • Don't be afraid to admit a mistake or shortcoming. Admitting a mistake is a good way of disarming trolls, who are mostly just looking for a fight.
  • Promise to improve. People usually understand that you only have limited resources and that good software is constantly improving. Look at how limited the original iPhone was when it first came out: no custom apps, really slow cellular network, limited functionality - and compare that to what it's like now. This of course only works if you are working on improvements.
  • Ignore the really bad stuff. If a piece of feedback is just a hateful rant with nothing good in it, just ignore it and move on. If the feedback is a mix of useful and nasty, pretend the nasty parts weren't there, and engage with the useful stuff.
  • If you just must respond to nasty criticism, do so with patience and/or humour. Congratulate particularly colourful or witty turns of phrase. A friend of mine often cools down overheated online language with "Do you need a hug?"

It's amazing how much a positive response can completely change the tone of a commenter or critic. Look at this set of comments and replies to the AppAdvice article to see how I managed to turn things around (with only a bit of snark). The initial post from "Brett" is mostly harsh criticism, but by the third reply he has admitted that he has ditched MaxJournal for Remembary.

A Quick Note on 'clone' in Rails 3.2
Feb 08, 2013 06:59
My Suddenly Slow-Waking MacBook Air
May 31, 2013 02:27
Other Blog Posts
My Expanded Twitter Thread about BurgerWeek 2021 This Is Nowhere: The Server Side Building a React Native App Without Tears - Part 3 Building a React Native App Without Tears - Part 2 Building a React Native App Without Tears (Mostly) This Is Nowhere: The Memento Edition This Is Nowhere: Aspects of Accessibility Presentations About NowHere This Is Nowhere: Head-First Into React Native This Is Nowhere: Bloomsday Halifax This Is Nowhere: Why an HTML/JavaScript Single-Page App With GPS Is A Bad Idea This Is Nowhere: GPS and Wayfinding and More UX This Is Nowhere: The Single-Button UX This Is Nowhere: Don’t Just Stand There! This Is Nowhere: Finding My Duck Finding Burgers Fast: My DIY Halifax Burger Week Site "This is Nowhere" at PodCamp Halifax 2018 The Diary Diaries: Fixing Remembary's Facebook Connection Special Leap Day Edition of "Some Weird Things About Time" What's Up With Remembary Can't get pg_dump To Work Now That Heroku Has Upgraded Postgresql to 9.4? The Best Thing I Ever Did To Promote My App If You Build It, They WON'T Come #deployaday, My Big Hairy Plan for 2015 Extracting Plain Text from an NSAttributedString My Year of "Hits" Part 2: Remembary Rolling My Year of "Hits" Part 1: Remembary Rises (and Stumbles) Handy Little Test Method to Check for Translations in Rails Apps My Suddenly Slow-Waking MacBook Air Indie App PR: Keeping Control of Your Tone A Quick Note on 'clone' in Rails 3.2 My eBook Apps 2: iOS, JavaScript, and Ruby My eBook Apps 1: Introduction Quick Tip: No Sound on Mountain Lion My Upcoming Talk at PodcampHFX 2012: My Year of "Hits" Building at the Speed of Funny Screencast Tips Remembary's Cool New Picture Support Indie App PR 2: Keeping On Top Of User Feedback Indie App PR 1: How to Handle an App Disaster Giles Bowkett Diary Project 2 Remembary Video Congratulations! Welcome to Your Nightmare! How My iPad App Remembary Took Off Why You Should Have an App in the App Store (Even If You Probably Won't Make Any Money) PodCampHFX Remembary Presentation - Part 3 How I Used MailChimp Autoresponders to Promote Remembary PodCampHFX Remembary Presentation Part 2 PodCampHFX Remembary Presentation Part 1 Why AdWords Ads Don't Work for iPad Apps Remembary is Sponsoring PodcampHFX Why Can't I Resize my Views in Interface Builder? Momento and Remembary Concerning Remembary iPad-Friendly eBooks of Gracian's Art of Worldly Wisdom Project Report: PTOS2 A Quick Note on Encryption We're all LUsers Thoughts on HAML Friday Afternoon Hack - Getting Beyond the Basics Halifax Friday Hack and Back to Basics Quote from Wil Shipley FutureRuby Make Web Not War Busy Week I: Toronto Ruby Job Fair Employment.nil - the Toronto Ruby Job Fair Code Count: Ruby on Rails vs. C#/ASP.NET A Brief Note on Twitter The Hub Halifax and Mobile Tech for Social Change Deep Thoughts on Microsoft From The Accordion Guy The Two Kinds of Defensive Programming Presentation - Fixing Careerious: From C#/.NET to Ruby on Rails Enterprise! Presenting at Ruby on Rails Project Night - May 7th New Name and New Look for Careerious/Clearfit FutureRuby and More From Unspace Health Tips for Programmers This tables meme won't die Careerious - Ruby and Rails vs. C#/.NET Yeah I Use Tables For Layout, So Sue Me The Different Kinds of Done Giles Bowkett's RubyFringe presentation OfficeTime: Great Time-Tracking App for OS X Back With A New Look Non-DRY Feed torontorb Keeping Your Sanity With The Command Design Pattern shindigital Is All Grown Up! (according to the spambots) Startup Stars? I'm so bored! The Magic Words for RMagick Jennifer from Operations You see? Naming is HARD Business Software as Process Documentation Deployment note: 'execve failed' Steve Jobs on Market Research Why Canada Is Better for Entrepreneurs "Program first and blog second" Toronto Tech Collage The MacBook Air Is A Roadster RubyFringe! Quote of the Week: Steve Yegge Starting Up: Cards Great design tool: Starting Up: The Logo Quotes Of The Day: Hedge Fund Interview TSOT Ruby / Rails Presentation Night - Part 1 Moneyworks: Accounting Software for Canadians on OS X Starting Up: The Name Nice logo, but why is your site so bland? Welcome to