Another day, another social media crisis. When a customer complaint on your Facebook page spirals out of control – what are you to do? Is blaming the intern a feasible option anymore?
A popular Central London bar, Adventure Bar, has been slammed on Facebook for their decision to name a cocktail ‘Sundae Bloody Sundae’, referencing the U2 song and famous Alan Partridge comedy sketch that touch on Bloody Sunday – an incident which took place in Northern Ireland in 1972, where 26 people were shot by British Army soldiers during a protest.
One offended customer, Adam McGibbon, chose to voice his thoughts on the bar’s official Facebook Page, which in turn triggered an outbreak of comments from other dissatisfied fans and friends. His complaint escalated quickly, and the story made its way to national news, leading to Adventure Bar ultimately disabling their Facebook wall and deleting all the commentary surrounding it
Not all negativity can be abated when a crisis hits you publicly on social. But criticism of Adventure Bar’s engagement in this conversation wasn’t purely focused on their original offence. Onlookers were unhappy with the way grievances were handled, from insensitivity, to a poorly conceived use of humour, to confusion and retractions explained as an intern’s mistake. Not all social media crises are made alike. We remember examples such as O2’s outage or Waitrose’s hashtag hijack, where humour could be put to use to abate frustrations. But in cases like these where crisis erupts in face of serious, personal issues, it’s important to tread much more carefully.
Although a social lock-down may seem like a good way to prevent more talk surrounding your social media meltdown, waiting for Facebook fires to fizzle out doesn’t mean your customers will have forgotten. Evidence can’t really be buried - just as we were able to do, customers grab screenshots of public conversations that live on beyond your censorship. And disabling users from posting on your wall could increase the chances of them hijacking future marketing updates on your page when you decide to reopen the dialogue.
What could Adventure Bar have done differently? Here we list a few takeaways which could prevent situations like this from breaking out for your brand:
• Do Not Add Fuel to the Fire – Being honest and apologising is the best approach to show your customers you have listened to them, and will be taking action. If you are in the wrong, do not try and justify your actions, only to retract it and blame it on your intern – this will only anger your customers more.
• Think Carefully About Taking It off Social – Adventure Bar’s efforts to take the conversation offline fell flat with one Facebook user. Trying to move conversations to another channel, one which is offline, is unsatisfying when your customers are upset. It will only be seen by them as an attempt to hide the problem so no one can see it publicly. By keeping conversations on one platform and resolving issues online, there is a greater opportunity to ‘win back’ your customers.
• Create a Social Customer Service Playbook – To prevent social media meltdowns from arising, consider having a set of guidelines in place to keep social media messages consistent for your brand. This set of guidelines will also clearly outline to your team the process to take if a difficult issue comes up online. Although speed is of the essence on fast-moving social platforms, it’s better to take the time to issue a considered response than stumbling into disaster unprepared.
What other tips would you add to help prevent brands from digging a deeper hole on social media? What would you have done differently if you were staffing Adventure Bar’s Facebook page? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.