Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp can be great, free marketing tools for restaurants. But there are times when chefs and restaurateurs forget the cardinal rules of social media: be nice and ignore the trolls. Here are 11 ways to hurt your restaurant’s social media marketing.
1. Taking Criticism Poorly
UK-based chef Claude Bosi lambasted a British food critic for giving his restaurant only three out of five stars. Two other chefs joined in the Twitter pile-on while another defended the critic, saying the negativity had “done nothing but bad for our industry.”
2. Being Overly Critical
Black Hoof restaurant in Toronto’s owner Jen Agg isn’t afraid to speak her mind on Twitter. She has directly critized customers for their manners, their taste, and other supposed restaurant sins. But tweeting, “Dear (almost) everyone in here right now. Please, please stop being such a douche” probably doesn’t endear you to customers.
3. Public Shaming
Los Angeles restaurant Red Medicine has tweeted the names of customers who are no shows for reservations, justifying the action by saying that restaurants are forced to overbook and inconvenience guests in anticipation of reservation cancellations or absences. One wonders if those called-out guests plan to try the restaurant again.
4. Hating on the Guest
Cinnamon Restaurant in Dublin got attention when a staffer on its Twitter account exchanged testy tweets with a customer complaining about his wait time. It escalated to the point that Cinammon’s account tweeted that the customer was an “arsehole”. Cinnamon later apologized on Facebook, said it was disciplining the offending staff tweeter, and offered discounted coffee when customers mentioned Twittergate.
5. Dissed and Dismissed
Mobile tweeting is now common. But one restaurant patron found out that you never know who’s following your tweets live. In August 2011, Allison Matsu had tweeted some negative comments about a Down House Houston bartender. The restaurant’s general manager saw the tweet soon after it was posted, called the bar and had Matsu kicked out. Matsu’s response and the resulting publicity didn’t make Down House look very good.
6. Know When to Quit
After firing an employee for posting a receipt on Reddit, Applebee’s tried posting an explanation – one that received 20,000 negative comments. The restaurant’s social media team continued to post until 4AM, responding to each negative comment.
7. Braving the Storm, Creating Another
Just before Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States, Boston burrito chain Boloco emailed its 50,000 subscribers saying that, despite deadly weather conditions, they would be open. Guests weren’t impressed, voicing their displeasure on Twitter. In one hour, the company set a personal record for negative comments.