One Business’s Social Media Marketing Mistake & What You Can Learn From It

The (True) StorySocial Media Einstein

It was late on a Friday night. My wife and I had been busy all day and all night. Now it was nearly 10:00pm, and we had not had dinner. I called into a favorite local place for takeout. We were both starving and were excited to have a late dinner date at home together.

When I got back home and opened up my meal (chicken), I found an incredibly small amount of chicken. I was very disappointed. In my opinion, I would have gotten more chicken in a kid’s meal from McDonalds.

The Thing This Business Did Right (Social Media Marketing)

When I was picking up the meals, I had to wait a few minutes for them to finish it up. While waiting, I noticed something on their counter, by the registers. They were promoting the fact that they were “now on Facebook,” and asking for people to come and like them on Facebook so that they could be notified of Facebook-only specials.

This was a great way to help people become aware that they were now on Facebook, and gave their customers incentive to like and follow them. To learn more best practices, see this post about best social media practices for 2012.

My Social Media Action

In my disappointment that night, remembering that they were now on Facebook, I snapped a picture of my disappointing meal, “liked” them on Facebook (it killed me to do that, but I had to), and then posted my picture on their wall, explaining my displeasure.

Their Social Media Reaction (Social Media Marketing Mistake)

I got up the next morning anxious to see if they had replied. What I found was not a reply from them, not a direct Facebook message, but that my post had been deleted from their wall! “Are you kidding me!!” I said out loud (and by out loud I mean LOUD). I am pretty sure that I startled my wife who was not completely awake yet.

My Social Media Reaction to their Reaction

Needless Social Media Mistakes Deserve a Thumbs Downto say, I was not happy about them removing my post. I emphatically and rather quickly, reposted the picture with my displeasure of the portion size and then made a comment asking them to “please not remove my post” from their wall.

 

Their Reaction to my Social Media Tirade

It did not take them but 1-2 hours before they found my post and removed it once again. They still did not contact me privately either. No apologies, no trying to make things right and no explanation. They simply removed my post once again.

Now the Gloves were Off

Now in all fairness to them, they had no idea I knew anything about social media. However, that shouldn’t matter. The fact is there are going to be unhappy customers and you need to address them in your social media channels as well as converse with those that are happy. It could have been a simple apology, and a message along the lines of “we will contact you to resolve this.” Then everything after that could have been behind “closed doors” as it were; but that’s not what they did.

I was more than just an unhappy customer at this point, I was angry. Instead of reposting on their Facebook wall where they would likely take it down yet again, I simply went looking for online review sites to leave negative reviews for them and to tell of my experience with their “customer service”.

Lessons You Should Learn from This

  • Your social media properties are an extension of your customer service. DO NOT IGNORE your customer’s complaints on these properties.
  • Engagement is key to success with social media, with both good and bad experiences. Here are some interesting facts on small business and social media marketing.
  • With unhappy customers, address them quickly on the “public” forum in which they posted and the contact them to handle it “behind closed doors.” If you handle it right, you will not only have a customer for life, you will have an advocate telling everyone about how professionally they handled your complaint. For the record, I have also had this experience as a customer, and I am an advocate for that business now because of the way they handled my experience.
  • Addressing bad experiences professionally and promptly with social media is a great way to advertise your commitment to a high level of customer service. Every company gets complaints, so don’t feel like you have to hide anything.
  • Like it or not, customers have a power over your business that they have always had – wait, did I say “that they have always had’? Yes, I did! Word of mouth has always an incredibly powerful factor in hurting (or helping) businesses. The difference is you have a chance to be part of that conversation now.
  • Some customers will be angry enough to leave negative reviews on review sites, such as Yelp, Google Maps, or Foursquare, when you ignore their outburst on the internet.

If you’ve seen any similar examples of bad social media, share your experiences of social media marketing mistakes in the comments below and start a discussion on what could have been improved.

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14 Comments

  1. CharlesDaniels says

    Never piss off a SEO professional.

    Egads, this is exactly why so many new businesses fail. It’s hard to imagine someone could be so clueless about how to handle a situation like this.

    When talking to businesses about social media this is exactly the kind of thing I try to stress with them. If they had simply responded to your complaint by saying it was an honest mistake and then sent you a private message saying to come in and pick up another order of food you would’ve been back on Facebook that night giving them a rave review. A rave review on your Facebook fan page wall = more valuable than a chicken dinner.

    Sadly it sounds like they had to learn the hard way just how valuable it could become. Because as I started with…

    Never piss off a SEO professional.

    Enjoyed your post, story well told.

  2. Rick says

    Charles,

    Thank you for the comments. I agree that if a business will respond with the apology on the social media medium that we used (in public) and then follow up with a private message the outcome can be a lot different. I have also had experiences where a business has done just this and gone out of their way to make me happy about things and in those cases, I have become a strong advocate for that business. As a consumer I don’t expect every experience with a business to be perfect. How they respond to my dissatisfaction when that happens can make all the difference.

  3. todd says

    My only problem with this example is the EXPECTATION that THEY know what they are doing.
    Yes yes, I know that EVERY business needs to be paying attention to this stuff, but the reality is different.
    The truth is THEY DID RESPOND (just poorly) which is different from a lot more out there.
    But ask yourself, why didn’t you call to complain or find a more traditional format to address the concern?
    Sadly, the genie is out of the bottle and we are all moving to a less direct form of communication- as “social” as social media is, it still allows us to hide behind a veneer.

  4. Rick Hardman says

    Todd,

    I appreciate the feedback. I agree that we, as a society, are much more bold in our comments and feedback with social media than we might be otherwise. However, this is something that all businesses need to take advantage of. In the past, we would tell our friends and family about out bad experiences & the business would not have a chance to respond – Now they do. They have a chance to be part of the conversation & influence it.

    I did not call them because they were closed by the time I found my mini portion sized chicken & I found it incredibly convenient to let them know over social media. While as a consumer, I perhaps should have taken the time the next day to go in and talk to them or to call, the reality is I was not going to do that because I did not have the time or care enough. Instead, I would have just stopped going in to this business & they would have no idea why. By responding on social media at the very moment I cared enough to do something, they had a chance to understand the concern & resolve it. Instead, they chose to respond by deleting my comment & ignore me. The message that sent to me was, “we don’t care about you”. That didn’t sit well with me. My reaction was more than it needed to be, but the truth is many consumers are reacting the same way. Businesses need to take notice for the sake of their own business.

    • Jennifer says

      I understand Todd’s comment, the implication that in the good old days we would very politely walk up to the manager and let them know about our dissatisfaction with an item or service (sans photo).

      The implication is that the proprietors are at a huge disadvantage because they just don’t know how to do this social media thing. In some cases this may be the case. But if someone is savvy enough to know how to delete a comment then they are savvy enough to connect with someone behind the scenes or to address the issue itself directly online and in public.

      The other issue I have with what I like to call “the good old days” argument against social media is that I believe anyone who would erase a negative comment would not handle an in person interaction any better. Social media is social and there should be no difference from in person to online. There are people out there who get aggressive online – but I am willing to bet they are aggressive face to face as well. I don’t know why we assume the person is only aggressive because they are sitting behind a computer. (Probably because that is the only way we would ever attempt some of the gags we see! However…we are not the aggressive ones so what we would do doesn’t really count…I always forget this.)

      I am one of those people who believe how you do one thing is how you do everything. ie Aggressive online – aggressive offline. Poor customer service online – most likely you will get poor customer service in person too.

      It just feels completely inappropriate to delete a comment from a customer and ignore it as though it never happened and I can’t believe the proprietor doesn’t realize this too. If they do not realize this then how could we expect them to handle any customer service issues well – in person or otherwise?

      • Rick says

        Todd,

        I agree more “good” cases need to be called out. I have recently had one of those as well & perhaps should have cited that in the post, but I hesitated because I don’t want to come across as, “I complained and got this, so go and do the same”. Without disclosing any details, I will say that some major props need to go to the Utah Jazz & the Larry Miller Companies and how they handle social media. First class! The experience was a complete opposite of the one in the post.

  5. Lloyd Sexton says

    I find this article a bit amusing as I posted a critical response to a piece on this site that was never approve. I’m guessing it was because I pointed out that the piece was really a veiled advertisement.

    This is sad, because I often find good info on this site, but service like that prevents me from recommending this site to others.

    • says

      Lloyd,

      I appreciate the feedback. Not sure what happened on the last comment you had made on another post. It appears as though we may just be behind on approving some comments.

      I made sure that comment was also approved in addition to this one. Thanks again for the feedback.

  6. Kristina Weis says

    This is awful. Responding to dissatisfied customers in public (or at least, at all) is key.

    If I had went to their Facebook page and seen a nice reply from them on your first picture post, it would have made me more likely to dine with them myself.

    One thing I’m curious about is if they did actually try to message you privately on Facebook. Facebook did this crazy thing where they essentially made a spam folder for messages on Facebook, called “Other” and almost all messages from people who aren’t your friends go there to die. To find it, click “Messages” on the left of your Facebook Home, and then “Other” should appear below it.

    • says

      Kristina,

      Thanks for the input.

      I eventually got a quick response from them (behind closed doors)that was essentially, “sorry you feel that way, but that’s the portion size for that special”. That response came several days later – which businesses should also learn is way to long to reply to negative feedback. That was all I ever heard. I just double checked to make sure I had not missed something from them and there is nothing more there.

  7. Sarah Dessen says

    Every business that thinks that they can make it big through social media networking, should learn a lesson from this post. It’s good that no one can remove your post from here! It was interesting to learn that many businesses are doing the same. So, social media networking that should be profitable for businesses are in turning against them. Thus, if they do not reply or deal with negative feedback professionally, they gradually lose customers. they should remember that the news about their poor service can spread like a wildfire on social networking sites and can soon ruin their business. Your suggestions are good and practical.

  8. Joshua Canfield says

    Rick, Thanks for the article. I have a really interesting take on this situation, as I have been on both sides of the table here. I’m a Web Developer and have been for many years. I was doing 1 or 2 projects a quarter while I was managing a medium-sized Restaurant in Broomfield, Colorado called Protos Pizza (http://protospizza.com/). Now, as a General Manager I would browse my way through the Social Networking sites and the Social Review Sites like Yelp. If I saw a negative comment on portion size or service or anything at all– I would personally respond to the unhappy client and offer my apology and a way to get them back to the restaurant hoping they would give us another chance. I felt that was the way to approach the Social sites where everyone has something to say.

    Now, on the other side of that. The Owner and Regional Manager along with other Managers (no names, right), would actually just remove or down-vote the comments. I would actually have a Boulder-store customer come into my store and bring up that they tried to leave feedback and their comment was removed and they said they liked the food but the service at that particular store was awful so they would give us a chance. I don’t think most customers would of been that nice to come back. You leave a message for a business online– 8 out of 10 times, I’m sure that person would like to hear back from somebody with an apology at least.

    As a Web Developer, we build Social Networking functions into our clients websites to get that feedback. The Feedback should be considered very valuable as it’s a part of life now. You can go online, leave a note for that business hoping that it will influence them somehow.

    It’s disappointing to hear that some businesses are not taking advantage of this way to communicate with their clients/customers. Take advantage of this. Yes, I know, there are some comments that could just be bogus from somebody looking to score something free or even from a disgruntled employee but that’s not really the case every-time and I feel that each business should take Social Networking and Review Sites seriously. Pay attention. You will get brownie points for responding professionally and actually paying attention to that client. I believe we call that customer service.

  9. Rick Hardman says

    Joshua,

    AMEN! I agree with every poi0nt made in your comment. In particular I believe a business has a chance to gain a loyal customer out of a bad experience simply by being responsive and taking care of a customer.

    FYI – My family and I actually went last night to have dinner at the place of which I spoke in this post. We went because the food is still good & they had some entertainment going from table to table last night. However, it took us awhile to order because it can get expensive with a family of 6. The owner was wandering around, but there were not many people in the place at the time, so he continued to watch us, as if he could tell we were debating on whether or not to stay. We did stay and it turned out fine, but after my experience last night, I certainly have some suggestions that would make the place a little more family friendly. Where I live, this is a huge deal because most everyone has a large family. However, after my last experience with them I am not so inclined to give feedback to them.

    • Joshua Canfield says

      Thanks Rick. Even when I was running one of their 6 Restaurants, I was still working a couple projects every quarter which meant that I was on both sides of this. As a Web Professional I know how valuable a tool Social Networking can be and I let that guide my responses to customers online. I wish I could say the same for my co-works and bosses. (Not trying to bad mouth anybody, just being honest). As a Business, especially a small business, you need to take every comment- good or bad, and capitalize on it. If it’s a bad comment there are various ways to approach the situation that can help both the unhappy customer and the business. Even good comments should be acknowledged and should result in a kudos to the staff members involved on that day or night.

      That’s great you went back and the experience was much better but I feel bad for the business because as a customer I am sure you would of been able to provide valuable feedback to them which they will probably not get from you because of your initial experience the first time around.

      Thanks for the reply Rick.

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