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Every local business can be stung by social media

92315426 We often talk about the potential and reach of social media.  And on this blog, over the past couple years, several of us have offered up some examples (here, here and here for starters) of how businesses large and small can use social media to their advantage.

But I think sometimes business owners miss the bigger picture:  Even if you aren't going to actively use social media as a marketing tool -- it is still something you need to monitor. 

Because it can sting you in the rear end.

Here are two examples from right here in Des Moines.  I'm not choosing sides in either case.  But I want you to see how a business, when it gets on the wrong side of a customer who is even a little bit web savvy, is at risk.

Legends Restaurant:  During a teaching in service day being held downtown, a group of  8 teachers went to the Legends on Court Avenue during their lunch break. One of the teachers found a hair in her salad and told her server.  That didn't go well, so she asked for the manager.  That went even worse.

The manager/owner of the restaurant ended up in a shouting match with the teachers, who promptly left. 

Before social media...that would have been the end of the story. 

But one of the teachers described the experience in an e-mail and shared it with all of her friends.  Who then shared it with their friends.  And so on.  Pretty soon it was being written about in the Des Moines Register, on blogs (see this part one and two of this blog's coverage) and ended up on the evening news.  You can view the TV coverage by clicking here.

Why does all of this matter?  Google Legends Restaurant Des Moines and you will see 2 references to this situation on the very first page of Google results.  Social media can sting...and it sticks.

Donut King:  Just a few weeks ago, a man walked into Donut King to purchase some donuts and when he offered his credit card to pay, he was told they needed to pay with cash.  He went to an ATM to get some cash and when he came back, he tried to explain to the store owner how he might be able to accept debit and credit cards without paying high fees.

At that point, the owner told him he didn't give a "*$#@&" and he should get the "*^%#&" out.

Before social media...that would have been the end of the story. 

The man went back to his car and grabbed his iPod nano, which he used as an impromptu video camera.  He went back into the store to ask for an apology.  Instead, on camera, he just got more profanity.

It's 2010....so the angry customer simply posted the video to YouTube (view it here...but remember the profanity) and then e-mailed a link to all his friends.  And now the debate rages on and more and more people are sharing the story and the links.

Whether it will spiral to the level that the Legends story did is anyone's guess.

Whether either of these businesses did something wrong or not isn't really the issue.  The issue is -- businesses need to monitor the web for mentions of their company and executives.  And if they find themselves the subject of a social media story -- this blog post outlines how they should respond.

If you want some hints on how to monitor for mentions of your organization, check out this post from HubSpot.  Best of all, their recommendations are all free and will only take a few minutes a day.

~ Drew 

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Once of the stories I tell when I give security presentations is the story of the Church of Scientology. Leaving the history completely aside, in 2008 a group of people launched several attacks on the church. One of these was a search engine poisoning attack that resulted in this:


Note the search term and the second link. Today, it's 2010 and though the attack has stopped, the effects are still there.

Interestingly, the same attack worked on Bing, even though it didn't exist at the time that the attack was launched:



Wow...great example. Talk about stickiness! Do you know what they did to accomplish that depth of coverage?

The same technique could be used in a brand building way, I would think.


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