Avoid Applebee’s Social Media Fail

screen shot 2013-01-31 at 4.00.47 pm Last week, Applebee’s learned a hard lesson about using social media.

If you haven’t heard, a waitress in St. Louis was fired for posting a customer’s receipt (from a priest) online.

The receipt in question included a snarky comment from a pastor who was offended that 18 percent was automatically included for her large party.

She wrote, “I give God 10% why do you get 18%?”

Incidentally, the pastor left her no tip. Once word got out that the waitress was fired, the Internet was furious.

Unable to keep up with the flurry of angry posts (20,000+ in total) on their Facebook page, Applebee’s decided to disable user posts preventing anyone from commenting at all.  This certainly didn’t help with Applebee’s social media policy which is to be as open and accessible to all of their customers.

Here’s how Applebee’s should have responded:

Allow your audience a forum to vent. Sure, there’s absolutely no way to respond to every single one of the 20,000+ comments. Disabling comments only portrays you in a negative light. Rather than disabling comments, your “Posts by Others” should segregated into the box at the top of the right column. It’s still visible, but it’s not the first thing visitors will see either. There’s also no need to respond to the posts. At first, one of the Facebook Page Administrators tried to respond to several of the posts, at times, even snapping at the posters. Again, allow them to vent. Of course, if it gets out of hand—and users are not abiding by your page rules (i.e., no swearing or attacking others), then you have a right to remove the comment and ban the user.

In a similar situation that could portray your company in a negative light, you can simply post your own message on your timeline addressing the situation and the actions you are taking to address that. This shows you care about your audience and are responsive.

As for more about what you should do in a situation like that, that’s where we come in. Contact us today to schedule a social media training session with your team..

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About Daniel Casciato

Daniel Casciato has his own business as a social media consultant, freelance copywriter, ghostwriter, and ghostblogger. The Pittsburgh native loves his Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. Learn more about him at www.DanielCasciato.com.

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