Verizon + HTC Incredible + Froyo = Big Fail

Note to social media managers: If you see a big chunk of your user base getting really really excited about something you’re not going to deliver, you should reach out and tell them that it ain’t gonna happen. And you should do it as soon as you possibly can or else the anticipation will continue to grow, and the pending disappointment will grow along with it, delivering a much more substantial blow when it finally arrives.

This is a short lesson for us all about how telling the simple truth early can save untold headaches later. On August 13th rumor leaked from Mashable.com – a fairly reliable source – that Verizon was going to push the much awaited update to Android 2.2 Froyo to their HTC Incredible devices on the 18th. Aside from being from Mashable, the rumor was given more credence because the HTC version of Froyo intended for the Incredible had leaked, and many of the users brave enough to root their devices had already installed it successfully. This indicated that the Incredible’s HTC Sense build of Froyo had been released by HTC and was awaiting the push from the Verizon side. Additionally, other HTC Android devices already are running Froyo – like the Desire.

So the Incredible community jumped onto Mashable’s article – tweeting it over 150 times and sharing it through Facebook nearly 200 times (and those counts are only through the official buttons on the article page, not even counting those who copied and pasted or shared via other methods).Between the 13th and the 18th the frenzy grew and the rumor spread, and users spoke incessantly about their excitement to finally get Froyo when the 18th rolled around.

And then the 18th was upon us, and many Incredible owners, including myself were repeatedly checking their phones only to receive the following message: “Your system is currently up to date.” And then, on the 18th, a tweet was published by an official Verizon account saying that “We currently do not have information for the Incredible update at this time and is not being sent out today.”

Thanks, guys. It would be one thing if the update was being delayed slightly due to an unexpected last minute bug, but it’s now the 22nd and there’s still been no update. There are really only a couple of possibilities here…

1) Verizon meant to release Froyo for the Incredible on the 18th, but some bug is keeping that from happening, and it’s big enough to delay it for more than a day or two. Unlikely – the longer this update takes to arrive, the more likely it is that Verizon was aware before the 18th that nothing was going to happen on that date with the update.

2) Verizon never intended to release Froyo for the Incredible on the 18th. This is seeming more and more likely. But if this is the case, then were they completely deaf to the excitement and jubilation of their users online? Or is their social media team so isolated from decision makers in their business that they were impotent and had no freedom to address the growing conversation amongst their users around this topic?

Additionally – and now I’m just on a rant – why did they make the announcement by replying to one individual on Twitter rather than releasing a statement to everyone?

Here’s another stellar example of the fallout and their Twitter engagement and response prowess:

Whatever the case, their deafness or inability to react has led to an entire user base for one of their handsets believing that their lack of denial of an update on the 18th was a tacit affirmation, and now they are all deflated and upset and wondering why they don’t have Froyo yet.

The point is that all they had to do was deny it to avoid a massive amount of confusion and disenchantment with their users. There are still regular updates on Twitter asking where the update is, why it didn’t come on the 18th as they had heard it would, and what on earth could be taking so long. None of this would have been an issue if Verizon hadn’t let the expectations build up so much. The surest sign that there is real activity and demand ongoing behind this frustration is that spam and demand media type websites continue to rehash generic information about Froyo and the HTC Incredible into new posts that give no new information in order to capture page views from those still diligently searching for information about what the hell is going on with their expected Froyo update – just try searching for “Froyo Incredible” on Twitter and see if they’re still serving up the spam articles for you in the links.

So, @VZWsupport – what is the deal anyway? How did this go so badly so fast? And most importantly, do you need a consultant to talk to your supervisors and explain the merits of listening to their social media managers if they say there’s a storm a-brewin’? Give me a call.

3rd Update (September 1st):

I have manually updated my Incredible to the official Froyo 2.2 build for the HTC Incredible. OTA should be coming soon, but why wait… here are the details if you’re interested in doing the same. It was quite easy. Let me know if you have questions (@supnah): How To Manually Update Your Droid Incredible to Froyo.

2nd Update (August 23rd):

The final word, and how sad it is

What a weird thing that @VZWSupport – the official Twitter channel for Verizon Support – has no idea who is responsible for the operating system running on one of their most popular phones?! It’s too late to be eloquent, but this blows my mind.

Update:

Latest interaction, no clarification >

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