ABC Mistakes: What Can We Learn From The Social Media Meltdown?

Someone being angry on social media
Don’t get angry on social media

During April 2014, Amy’s Baking Company was back in the news. This time being re-featured on the popular television show Ramesy’s Kitchen Nightmares. The first edition saw the chef walk out on the couple who claimed they were being ruined by online food critics.

Yet what happened next is of interest to social media marketers everywhere.

Within hours of the show originally airing on television, the Bistro’s online social media profiles were being inundated with negative comments. In response there were several retaliatory messages.

social media screenshot
A screenshot of an ABC social media update and response

The world became enthralled by the bistro and as such the company had to shut its doors for a few days. It seemed as if one company had not realised the power of social media.

There was a further twist in this particular tale. The restaurant owners retracted comments, stating their social media profiles had been hacked and the FBI had become involved to investigate the crime.

Despite their hopes that this would be the end of the matter it was not by far. In addition to this, two more Facebook pages appeared, one with the similar degrading messages which were written by the ‘hackers’ and another supporting the bistro, which was closed a few days later.

An entire episode of the new series of Kitchen Nightmares was dedicated to what happened to the business, and as a result, the restaurant came to light again. They all say that no publicity is bad publicity, but perhaps this was one time when no publicity would have been better.

So what can we learn from the social media storm which surrounded this small business?

1. Don’t insult people

Whether or not the restaurant had posted those comments originally back when this started, this month they admitted they are definitely the ones in control of the account. This is again fuelling the negative comments against their brand.

2. Don’t respond to social media trolls

Trolls are generally people who post comments which are designed to make you respond negatively. Responding to comments is pretty important, but responding to troll attacks is different. They are not really comments they are simply attacks. You can either ignore them or if possible delete them. Never respond to them, especially with rude accusations of your own.

3. Calm down if the comments make you angry before you do respond

Responding quickly is important, but sometimes it is best to take a moment to relax before doing so. Otherwise you could be posting something which others will perceive in a bad way. Keep your tone professional at all times. Emotions are tough to keep a lid on but you are better writing a response which either defends your actions or politely acknowledges the comments, rather than a comment others can use against you.

4. Don’t create additional social media accounts to support your main one

This is something which is reported to have happened in this case. Although we cannot confirm or deny this, it is certainly a mistake which you should never make. Fake reviews and positive testimonies have been heavily criticised in the past, with author RJ Ellory being forced to make an apology, after it was revealed he wrote many reviews for his books.

If you now search for his name on Google: the top three results are his wiki page and two newspaper articles about his ‘fake reviews’.

Google search results
Google search results for the offending author

If you want to make sure your brand name remains squeaky clean, it is best to stick to the truth.

5. Learn when to quit

Not everything that is said about your business deserves a detailed response when sometimes a simple apology will do. American Airlines and British Airways have used social media to apologise for mistakes and attempt to solve them. If you can smooth things over, the audience should simply walk away from the conversation.

6. Keep your password secure

You need to ensure your social media accounts are safe from hackers in case someone does break into your accounts and post on your behalf. Use alphanumeric non-seneschal code and change it regularly.

Social media is a great tool but ensure you are using it correctly to protect your business’ brand. A clean profile online will drive customers to your website and your products / services, which will give you a return on your investment.