The appropriately-named Boners BBQ recently conducted a clinic on the worst possible way to handle social media as part of a bar or restaurant’s advertising/marketing efforts.
When owner Andrew Capron discovered customer Stephanie Stuck had left a less-than-positive review of his establishment on Yelp – Stuck called the food “tepid,” the flavors “odd to bland” and the atmosphere “a bit lackluster” – he responded by going on his restaurant’s Facebook page and unleashing an obscenity-riddled tirade.
Capron posted a picture of Stuck he found on her Facebook page and advised other restaurant owners that if they find her in their establishment they should “tell her to go outside and play hide and go f$#% yourself.” He also called her a name that rhymes with stitch.
Not surprisingly to those of us who know a little something about social media, the response blew up in the face of both Capron and his BBQ joint.
Initially Capron faced a backlash of fans who did not agree with the tactic of calling out Suck so publicly. Boners took the post down by the end of the day. But that didn’t stop word of Capron’s behavior from making its way across multiple social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Capron ended up issuing a Facebook apology that included the offer of a free meal. But that didn’t stop the story from going viral, drawing negative publicity from outlets ranging from ABCNews.com to Huffington Post to the New York Daily News.
Stuck told her story to all manner of media and in almost every instance the restaurant came across looking like a mean-spirited bully. Emotional and ill-advised as it was, Capron’s response to negative feedback further illustrates a point about social media we’ve been making in this space for some time.
Had Boners jumped on Yelp and/or Facebook and sounded genuinely concerned one of its customers wasn’t completely satisfied, public sentiment would have swayed towards the restaurant. Even those who might have been swayed by Stuck’s assessment would have been impressed that Boners cared so much about every person who walked through its doors – even the ones who make their displeasure public.
Not only did Boners fail the cardinal rule by not taking advantage of an opportunity, but it doubled down by creating a situation that didn’t need to exist: Bad review on Yelp (deserved or not) = bad. National news story where your establishment comes off looking evil = worse.