How not to use social media for your business

US-based Amy's Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro proves a great example of how your approach to social media can destroy your business

Until last month, few had heard of Amy's Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro restaurant in the US city of Scottsdale, Arizona. It's a family-owned eatery offering slightly upmarket burgers, pizzas, and cakes.

But then irascible Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay came to town with the crew of his show Kitchen Nightmares, and the resultant broadcast drilled a hole through the cybersphere. The tale is a primer in how NOT to use social media during a business crisis.

Website buzzfeed.com dubbed it an "epic brand meltdown" (note that this post contains foul language, threats and bizarre allegations) which is true. Amy's is still an operating restaurant... although its agreement to appear on the television show may curtail the eatery's career.

During the evening dinner service filmed before host Ramsay's arrival, head chef Amy Bouzaglo and her husband Samy cursed like sailors and verbally abused customers in the main dining area. Customers with complaints about the food (apparently a common occurrence) were told to leave and not come back. Back in the kitchen, the eponymous chef told the camera: "The customer is not always right".

It got worse from there, as Ramsay was served a succession of dishes (one of which he described as "cat food") and continuing mayhem resulted in one of the servers being fired on the spot. Note that in the US, there are a few restaurants which feature rude service as a highlight. In these situations the rude attitude is part of the entertainment.

But there was nothing entertaining about Amy's Bakery. Like most, I wondered why on earth a married couple would put themselves through that every night.

And their subsequent use of social media was wrongheaded. This particularly obstinate, argumentative approach can be reverse-engineered: If we view what happened as "worst practice," we can derive a few best practices from this whole sorry, sticky, soggy mess (sorry but the pizza crust looked dire). Let's look at what NOT to do.

Don't insult your customers

In 2010, someone posted a negative review on Yelp--a crowdsourcing site where users post reviews of local attractions. Reaction was swift and merciless, as Amy took to her computer and lambasted the customer's lack of culinary knowledge.

If your brand has a significant customer-facing element, you need to have employees monitoring social media in real-time for negative comments. You protect your brand's value by responding to these comments rapidly. You contact the person posting them, try to figure out the problem, and offer solutions. It's called customer service and it's not new--simply more time-critical nowadays.

But a person posting one negative review of a small eatery won't spoil the milk. Here's what you DON'T do: reply to the person saying things like: "My dough is made fresh every day from 100 per cent organic ingredients. Perhaps your palate is not sophisticated enough to tell the difference."

Don't feed the trolls

On the Net, people will post comments just to draw reactions--these commenters are known as "trolls". The only thing to do with these comments (besides removing them if they violate a Web site's terms of service) is to ignore them. Many Netizens know the expression: "don't feed the trolls."

After reddit.com discovered the Kitchen Nightmares episode, the pizza sauce hit the fan. Reportedly, the Bouzaglos jumped on Reddit and created fake accounts to reply to comments on their restaurant--the business' Facebook page was a similar zone of anarchy.

Responses were vitriolic, often in all caps, fuelling more backlash. Had the owners been more civil and professional, the backlash and aggression would have been tempered. Instead, responses like ""You people are all s---," . "Yelp s---, Reddits s---. Every s---. Come to here, I will f------ show you all" were featured on their Facebook page (which they later claimed was "hacked").

Know when to walk away

When facing unwelcome feedback on social media, sometimes it's best to just walk away.

Whether the comments are legitimate or troll-bait, sometimes your responses are the catalyst adding fuel to the fire. Stop responding and you may be surprised how quickly the negative comments dry up.

The Bouzaglo couple had another reason to walk away: they appear to have skeletons in their closet. According to the New York Daily News:

"Samy, 63, spent time in jail before he came to the United States....Amy, 40, also has a criminal past. In 2003, Amy, then known as Amanda Bossingham, pleaded guilty to using someone else's Social Security Number to apply for a bank loan of [US]$15,000 in 2001, records show. She spent 14 months in federal prison."

According to azcentral.com: "Salomon 'Samy' Bouzaglo...is involved in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement case to revoke his residency status, his lawyer said. Scottsdale immigration lawyer David Asser said the case against his client started two years ago and was the subject of a removal hearing."

"Records show that prior to her [2003] conviction, Amy faced four judgments in Colorado in 1998 and 1999 totaling about $14,000," said the azcentral.com story. "She was also sued in Arizona in 2000 for $3,229. The judgments appear to have arisen from unpaid debts that were turned over to collection agencies."

End result

Amy's Baking Company is now a certifiable Internet meme. The entire episode of Kitchen Nightmares is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XjgHEctcy0

Reports say that while Amy's is largely deserted, Pita Jungle nearby does a roaring trade, as its customers discuss...what else, the now-legendary social media meltdown of their infamous neighbour.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

3 marketing mistakes to overcome when courting prospective customers

Marketing that urges respondents to ‘buy now’ is a little like asking someone to marry you on your first date. At any time, only 3 per cent of the market is looking for what you’re selling, so the chances of your date randomly being ‘The One’ is pretty slim.

Sabri Suby

Founder, King Kong

Why are we dubious about deep learning?

The prospect of deep learning gives those of us in the industry something to get really excited about, and something to be nervous about, at the same time.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Why you can’t afford to fail at CX in 2019

In 1976 Apple launched. The business would go on to change the game, setting the bar for customer experience (CX). Seamless customer experience and intuitive designs gave customers exactly what they wanted, making other service experiences pale in comparison.

Damian Kernahan

Founder and CEO, Proto Partners

Red Agency YouGov Galaxy Report, February 2019 Predictors Study. https://redagency.com.au/re...

Vanessa Skye Mitchell

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

RIP holden

Max Polding

Marketing professor: For Holden, brand nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

Read more

Where does the claim that 2 million Australians have tested come from ? Anecdotal information suggests that this is way off the mark.

David Andersen

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

Thank you for the info , being part of a digital marketing agency in kerala , this proved handy and get to know with upcoming trends. htt...

Dotz Web Technologies

Predictions: 9 digital marketing trends for 2019

Read more

So who then is correct? The Research or The skilled Digital people.

Anene

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in