I have to admit I have never witnessed a meltdown of such epic proportions on a company’s social media accounts, as the one that was done by Amy’s baking company Bakery Boutique and Bistro. I did not catch it from the beginning, but I saw the initial screen-caps on Tumblr, where this meltdown turned into a hit.
According to the story, Amy’s baking company Bakery Boutique and Bistro (from Arizona) was in a recent episode of Kitchen Nightmares, where they were told they were impossible to work with. After that and some negative comments on Reddit, Amy and Samy decided to respond on their social media channels. Instead of thinking twice what they were about to do, they took their grievances with negative comments in the most spectacular social media fashion.
The difference between having such a meltdown in pre-social media era and now is that it was localized and only restricted number of people could have found out about it. Not in the digital and social media age. Screencaps from Amy and Samy’s meltdown were shared on major sites – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and many more. You can’t contain or erase such history. Sooner or later some customer will find those pictures and think twice about being a patron at your place. Remember how Applebee reacted to their employee Reddit comments in the beginning of 2013? You can read it here.
Also, if there is negativity expressed on one social media channel – as in the case with the Bistro – on their Yelp profile, try not to bring it yourself to the other channels – namely FB and Twitter. Contain the negative comments and don’t start a freak out yourself. Furthermore, try not to intimidate the customers, your business depends on them. There are many ways to respond to negativity, but the way Amy and Samy accomplished it, was not the right:
The next day
Apparently after some time have passed, Amy and Samy announced on the FB page that the meltdown was actually result from a hacking and the FBI is dealing with it. I have two problems with this – somebody hacking all their social media accounts at once and spitting incoherent rants seems far fetched. Though hacks happen, they are usually geared toward big organizations. See this article about AP twitter hacked.
And secondly, FBI dealing with this? Really, don’t they have more important things to do?
When a situation like this arises, when obviously you made a huge mistake, just be honest, admit a mistake and deal with the fall out. Or at least come up with a better story than the hacker one. Still honesty is better.
- When you are affected by some event, stay away from social media – this rings through both for business pages, as well as personal account. Read twice what you are about to post, think carefully.
- There is no deleting stuff once it is screencapped and all over the social networks. This stays with you.
- Be honest and careful with your explanation.
- Getting angry on Reddit comments and venting on official FB page is not the answer. Instead create a strategy how to deal with the negative comments. Even put a crisis PR social media plan on place.
- Create a level of access to your accounts, monitor them and use a strategy what was to be posted.
- Target who you respond to – try to distinguish between genuine comments and trolls, don’t respond to the latter and if you do, try not to use CAPS LOCK. It implies that you are screaming at others.
Maybe there are more lessons, and I will be glad if you share them in the comment section. Is there a line that was crossed by the users as well? Could the company recover from that – after all every person has their 15 minutes of fame and some say that all mentions is good, regardless if was positive or negative.
UPDATE 16/05/2013: The owners of Amy’s baking company Bakery Boutique and Bistro created a new FB page where unfortunately the crazy comments did not stop. The total social media meltdown continues on the new page as well, undoubtedly helped by users, but there is no excuse for the weird behavior in public environment by the owners of the bistro.
Seriously, how bad this could go. For sure it should be on a #worldworst social media failures for 2013.