One Business’s Social Media Marketing Mistake & What You Can Learn From It The (True) Story It was late on a Friday night. My wife and I had been busy all day and all night. Now it was nearly 10:00pm, and we had not had dinner. I called into a favorite local place for takeout. We were both starving and were excited to have a late dinner date at home together. When I got back home and opened up my meal (chicken), I found an incredibly small amount of chicken. I was very disappointed. In my opinion, I would have gotten more chicken in a kid’s meal from McDonalds. The Thing This Business Did Right (Social Media Marketing) When I was picking up the meals, I had to wait a few minutes for them to finish it up. While waiting, I noticed something on their counter, by the registers. They were promoting the fact that they were “now on Facebook,” and asking for people to come and like them on Facebook so that they could be notified of Facebook-only specials. This was a great way to help people become aware that they were now on Facebook, and gave their customers incentive to like and follow them. To learn more best practices, see this post about best social media practices for 2012. My Social Media Action In my disappointment that night, remembering that they were now on Facebook, I snapped a picture of my disappointing meal, “liked” them on Facebook (it killed me to do that, but I had to), and then posted my picture on their wall, explaining my displeasure. Their Social Media Reaction (Social Media Marketing Mistake) I got up the next morning anxious to see if they had replied. What I found was not a reply from them, not a direct Facebook message, but that my post had been deleted from their wall! “Are you kidding me!!” I said out loud (and by out loud I mean LOUD). I am pretty sure that I startled my wife who was not completely awake yet. My Social Media Reaction to their Reaction Needless to say, I was not happy about them removing my post. I emphatically and rather quickly, reposted the picture with my displeasure of the portion size and then made a comment asking them to “please not remove my post” from their wall. Their Reaction to my Social Media Tirade It did not take them but 1-2 hours before they found my post and removed it once again. They still did not contact me privately either. No apologies, no trying to make things right and no explanation. They simply removed my post once again. Now the Gloves were Off Now in all fairness to them, they had no idea I knew anything about social media. However, that shouldn’t matter. The fact is there are going to be unhappy customers and you need to address them in your social media channels as well as converse with those that are happy. It could have been a simple apology, and a message along the lines of “we will contact you to resolve this.” Then everything after that could have been behind “closed doors” as it were; but that’s not what they did. I was more than just an unhappy customer at this point, I was angry. Instead of reposting on their Facebook wall where they would likely take it down yet again, I simply went looking for online review sites to leave negative reviews for them and to tell of my experience with their “customer service”. Lessons You Should Learn from This Your social media properties are an extension of your customer service. DO NOT IGNORE your customer’s complaints on these properties. Engagement is key to success with social media, with both good and bad experiences. Here are some interesting facts on small business and social media marketing. With unhappy customers, address them quickly on the “public” forum in which they posted and the contact them to handle it “behind closed doors.” If you handle it right, you will not only have a customer for life, you will have an advocate telling everyone about how professionally they handled your complaint. For the record, I have also had this experience as a customer, and I am an advocate for that business now because of the way they handled my experience. Addressing bad experiences professionally and promptly with social media is a great way to advertise your commitment to a high level of customer service. Every company gets complaints, so don’t feel like you have to hide anything. Like it or not, customers have a power over your business that they have always had – wait, did I say “that they have always had’? Yes, I did! Word of mouth has always an incredibly powerful factor in hurting (or helping) businesses. The difference is you have a chance to be part of that conversation now. Some customers will be angry enough to leave negative reviews on review sites, such as Yelp, Google Maps, or Foursquare, when you ignore their outburst on the internet. If you’ve seen any similar examples of bad social media, share your experiences of social media marketing mistakes in the comments below and start a discussion on what could have been improved.