We should embrace social media. After all, it is going nowhere any time soon.  And what a wonderful medium it is, for self expression, for keeping in touch.

It can bring out the worst in people, though — a kind of primal mob mentality.

And what happens when you anger the mob? All hell breaks loose, that’s what. That is why it pays to be extremely careful when posting on social media.

This year, there have been several examples of businesses using social media to criticise customers, presumably in an effort to get the ‘mob’ on their side.

Last month, Mike Duffy of Ekim Burgers must surely have guzzled one beer too many when he responded on Facebook to some mild criticism. Apparently, a customer had the ‘audacity’ to suggest her son may have got food poisoning from one of Mike’s burgers.

Here’s a truncated version of Mike’s expletive-laden rant (his spelling):

“Almost 20 years in this f*@% industry and never had a person who ate what I cook get sick from it. Plenty of pissed up office jocks pulling the “i got food poisoning” call after going home way to drunk from a staff Christmas party with someone who they shouldn’t have…. “

What was he thinking? My guess is he wasn’t.

Hey, grumpy. Step away from the keyboard!Click To Tweet
Ekim
The ‘charming’ Mike of Ekim Burgers

Mike did receive some support — mainly from hospitality workers treating him like a rough-around-the-edges speaker of the truth. Most people, though, like sharks sensing blood in the water, attacked, and many posted comments far more poisonous than his.

Maybe Mike thinks bad publicity is better than none? I beg to differ. Now, if you Google Ekim Burgers the search engine results are dominated by stories about his rant. That can’t be good for business.

Molten Restaurant in Auckland also used Facebook to respond to criticism. They, however, took a different approach.

Molten received, what they believed, to be an unreasonable review via restaurant review website Zomato. Here is part of it:

“… my chicken main course was very salty! It was supposed to have been wrapped in prosciutto but it looked more like bacon to me. My husband said his Lamb was tender but quite salty as well.

The side of Roasted vegetables was ok but some of the chargrilled root veges were so overcooked and tough that they were not edible.”

This was Molten’s response:

“You were rather rude to the people that worked at our restaurant. Please bear in mind that we are not out to sabotage your evening, in fact quite the opposite — we are trying everything in our power to make your experience an enjoyable one so that you come back.

“… When we first asked how your meals were you said fine, then ate them in their entirety, then upon the plates being cleared you let us know that it was the worst meal you’ve eaten in a decade and that it was too salty for your tastes. Maybe next time you could let us know upon tasting the meal that it wasn’t to your taste so that we have an opportunity to fix it.

“… Also, please don’t complain that the prosciutto on your meal looked like it was bacon in your online review. The simple explanation for this is that it was pancetta. As per the description of the dish on the menu.”

 

Is criticising clients online ever a good idea?

Public relations expert Fleur Revell believes both Ekim and Molten were wrong to lash out on Facebook. In her view, it just brings public attention to a problem. I agree.

Having said that, I quite like Molten’s response; it is controlled and in no way abusive. And judging from the support they received on their Facebook page (almost all of it positive), they have many happy customers.

I don’t envy restaurateurs. Thanks to social media, they are easy targets for ‘reputation sabotage.’ And, let’s face it, a reviewer can be anyone: an unreasonable diner, the competition — an idiot!

Sometimes, I guess, you can’t let things slide; you have to stand up for your reputation.

You need to be VERY careful, though.

The ballad of Natalia and Willy

x-factor-willy-moon-natalia-kills-2015-billboard-650-b
The bullies became the bullied.

Never has there been a finer example of social media mob power than the story of Natalia Kills and Willy Moon. Remember the brutal dressing down they dished out to X-Factor New Zealand’s emotionally brittle Joe Irvine?

If they’d made their comments 10 years ago, disgruntled viewers might have contacted TV 3 or written a letter to the editor to express their anger. Unfortunately for Natalia and Willy, though, we are now in 2015. I’m sure some viewers still used those channels, but most took to social media with gusto.

The outrage was huge; the mob provoked.

Within 24 hours, an online petition calling for the duo’s heads had 70,000 supporters.  And some far from complimentary Facebook pages sprung up. Here are the names of some of them:

  • #uck Willy Moon
  • Boycott Natalia Kills and Willy Moon
  • We hate Natalia Kills.

 

They were promptly sacked.

What was, perhaps, most damaging for the pair was the hatred directed at them through their social media channels. Many of the comments were outright disgusting and offensive — every creep in cyber space seemed to want a piece of them.

As a result, the pair’s social media channels are now useless. Instead of mediums to promote their music, they have become advertisements for why you shouldn’t support them. I’m not sure if their careers will ever recover.

Social media isn’t going away, and I’m glad — it’s an awesome marketing tool. However, if you fail to respect the social media mob, and things turn ugly, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Did you enjoy this post? I hope so. If you did, please share.

Related posts:

Two social media tasks you should not outsource

A 30-minute social media marketing plan

How to use Linkedin for business

  1. Hey Andrew,

    I’ve heard of some instances when people have definitely let their emotions loose on social media and it hasn’t been to their advantage.

    I can’t imagine someone bashing a company’s service when they know they’ve done everything in your power to deliver a good product. At the same time I think retaliating is not the professional way to approach this. You really have to tread lightly because no matter how you approach it some people will disagree I’m sure.

    It’s obvious though from the examples you shared here that none of them did it the right way. Even with Molten’s response being more toned down than Mike’s I still think it could have been worded better.

    Great examples of what NOT to do.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Hi Adrienne

      Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I agree that it’s not a good idea to criticise customers online. However, our emotions can get the better of us sometimes. I think the best strategy is to encourage happy clients to post positive feedback. I’ve noticed that people are far less willing to be openly critical when going against the pack.

      Andrew

  2. I don’t watch the X factor New Zealand . However, I adore Natalia’s Kills music but was flabbergasted and appalled too see the video today . My jaw literally dropped . Originality is a good thing to have but she and moon went way too far and blew things out proportion . She always seemed so sweet in her interviews . I am by no means defending her behaviour but I hope overall she is still a decent person. Sometimes people say really harsh things in the heat of the moment and don’t think. But I don’t know .. For the record, I wouldn’t have this perspective if bigoted comments were made ( such as if they were racist.)

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