You Can’t Bury a Facebook Screw-Up

I didn’t plan to write this post, but wanted to jump my editorial queue to share a terrible example of business social media use.

Earlier today, Boners BBQ in Atlanta, GA posted the below photo (but they didn’t blur or blot out her name – I did that) on their Facebook page.

After taking a look at past posts and their website, they obviously share content that is risqué, but this post has crossed a line that shouldn’t have been crossed – especially by a business.

The Downward Spiral

The first mistake was obviously posting the photo and comments, but they didn’t end there.  Right before my eyes I saw mistake after mistake.  Deleting the offending post was actually a very wise idea, but how they handled the issue was littered with mistakes.  Some of the mistakes were:

  • not offering an apology and/or explanation
  • consistently deleting every post that referenced the offending wall post
  • removing people from the page and preventing those people from posting (I was one of them)
  • attempting to sweep the issue under the rug and pretend that it didn’t happen.

Lessons Learned

There are probably many lessons that can be gleaned from this example, but I want to highlight two:

  1. Act appropriately. Even if your brand is edgy, there is always a line. Know what that line is and NEVER cross it.
  2. Don’t hide mistakes. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to bury mistakes. The more you try, the more they are highlighted.  Address the mistakes head on. Take a page from the Red Cross’ playbook.

The impact of this mistake goes far beyond those who saw the posts.  Blog posts like this one will use this as an example of what not to do. People will be talking about this long after today. I’m surprised that Boners BBQ didn’t learn from past mistakes of companies like Nestle.

UPDATE: Boners BBQ posted the following on their page:

Would like to apologize for an inappropriateness on our part.

I’m not sure how sincere or valuable this apology is.

What are your thoughts on this mistake? What would you have done?

  • Chrystina Tovani

    If they want to get beyond this, they’ll have to endure the backlash as gracefully as possible. I’m glad you wrote something. I kept checking google to see if anybody was going to do an article.  It was so completely off base for a business to act that way. I also screen captured everything before it was taken down since I will also use this to show an example of what not to do.  

  • Cassie Tyler

    This ATL crude and classless. This not the first time I have seen or heard stuff like this from ATL businesses.

  • Alexandra

    After his response to the poor review and lack of tip, it’s pretty clear that the restaurant owner definitely needs a digital GED: general education on decency for the web. 
    Stephanie’s review reads like a genuine consumer opinion with valid criticism. It can be hurtful or painful to read constructive criticism from a complete stranger, but ultimately it is a source of feedback that helps a business improve for the better. Unknowingly, he started a viral wave. Time will tell if the food at Boners BBQ will improve or if his business will survive the court of public opinion. For now, he’s all smiles enjoying the coverage online and offline of this incident.

  • Mike McCready

    The real tell will be in how well the weather the storm.  There are great examples of companies recovering from a social media incident.  Their first attempt an apology was hallow, but the second attempt seemed more sincere.

  • Mike McCready

    I agree Alexandra.  I think the frustration from the business was because of the review. I thought she was fair and completely insulting.  Boners BBQ should have looked at that as an opportunity to be awesome, instead of a fire to put out.  Instead the blew it up in their face.

  • Lagging Policies

    This situation—”the customer got away with something”—that you’ve blogged about here is just one way companies fail. There are other ways that companies can put company workers in difficult situations.

    Consider a company or a government agency that doesn’t permit its front-line workers to speak to the media. If a customer or client uses a video camera to record their disagreement with a worker—a worker who could get penalised or even fired for speaking to the media—should this captive employee stop talking to the customer while the camera’s recording? Do companies instruct customer-facing staff what to do if a customer tries to record them at work? Are companies updating outdated “Don’t speak to the media” policies to reflect the reality that everyone’s a social publisher now?

    As for the person publishing details of a grievance, it’s one thing to publish criticism of a company—even to include images or recordings. However, If the images identify a captive employee who has no authority to make company policy or to speak on behalf of the company (so cannot pose a response), there should be consequences for the person who publishes the images—including, for the worker, compensation for loss of reputation and impact on future employment. Because free speech should come with responsibilities. If a customer doesn’t understand that, government should provide a clearly defined way for a worker to seek redress. This is where government is lagging.