The importance of social media goes far and beyond during a crisis. Social media can reach millions of people in matter of minutes. The post they write in those matter of minutes are going to save or kill the reputation of the company as a whole. In my opinion, I believe that a company should be truthful and explain to their followers of what went wrong and how they plan to fix it. Domino’s is a great example of overcoming a crisis when they were deep in the whole, read it here (Dominos Overcoming Crisis).
So what happens if social media chatter is ignored? One word, disaster. Applebee’s Crisis is an example that all companies should follow of what NOT to do. So what happened?
“A pastor who had eaten at an Applebee’s restaurant crossed out the automatic 18% tip charged for parties of more than eight and wrote “I give God 10% why do you get 18” above her signature. A waitress at the restaurant took a photo of this and posted it on Reddit. She was subsequently fired for “violating customer privacy” which would have been understandable if Applebee’s had not posted a similar receipt that was complimenting them just 2 weeks prior”.
Applebee’s decided to defend their actions on their Facebook page. This quickly drew over 10,000 mostly negative comments, to which Applebee’s started responding by posting the same comment over and over again. They were also be accused of deleting negative comments and blocking users.
They dug a deeper hole as Applebee’s persisted to defend their actions and argue with users that criticized them. By the following day, after the original post had generated over 19,000 comments, Applebee’s decided to hide the post which only created more anger. If Applebee’s just owned up to their hypocritical mistake and made a public apology, things could have turned another way. Lesson of the day, own up to your mistake and people will acknowledge your sincerity.