How NOT To Respond To Negative Comments: Applebee’s And Idiocy

At Turn The Page we like a good giggle. But sometimes a giggle can turn into a gasp as we watch a big company turn the social media hose onto itself and then complain that they’re damp.

Such as it was with Applebee’s. Yes, the homegrown dining franchise from good old KC committed a cardinal sin or three after an incident that’s a great example of why firing your social media manager isn’t as satisfactory as publicly flogging him (her).

So briefly here’s how it went down:

Pastor in St. Louis eats with churchgoers at Applebee’s. Presumably their microwaved wings and frosty Main St. ‘Ritas were fine. (I have no idea what they ate.)

Bill comes, pastor pays check. As a nice reward she writes in the tip line, “I give God 10%,” she wrote, “Why do you get 18?”

Waitress posts photo of said check on Reddit as an alternative to egging her car.

Pastor claims damaged reputation, embarrassment, shame, and psoriasis.

Pastor then calls Applebee’s and demands entire staff be fired.

Waitress is fired. Applebee’s claims that the waitress violated the privacy of a customer and violated one of the terms of her contract. (contract?)

Social media explodes with the heat of a thousand suns. Now, let me just say here that we have lots and lots of problems in America. There are still 42,000 homeless families because of Hurricane Sandy, our kids are idiots and will be paying off our debts in the future by selling their own organs.

But citizens chose none of these things to care about. Instead they launched a firestorm of criticism at Applebee’s on the Twitter and the Facebook.

So Applebee’s naturally apologized, hired back the waitress, Chelsea Welch, and we all got free nachos.

Yeah, not.

We’ve talked before about dealing with negative comments on Facebook and Twitter. Apologize, promise to do better, fix the situation if possible. Pretty simple stuff.

Unless you’re a national chain with lots of money to hire really smart social media managers to eff it all up.

The following weekend someone decided to answer the critics on Facebook. At 2:53. In the morning. Repeatedly. At length. Again and again. All night long. Sometimes even engaging individual posters and arguing their standpoint.

Oh, and their arguments and justification were posted in the Facebook stream, NOT as a stand-alone post where people would have seen it.

And as of a couple of days ago there were more than 35,000 comments about the incident on their Facebook page. Mostly haters.

There would have been more but it seems they were also deleting posts here and there along the way.

So use this gigantic company’s complete blunder upon blunder as an example of how not to work the social stratosphere. Because when you mess with the people, the people will respond.

Author Amanda Hall

More posts by Amanda Hall

Join the discussion No Comments

  • This is so silly! This isn’t a place to make a stand. Admit your wrong, take the fall, and it would have been over in a couple of days. Chances are this issue wouldn’t have gone viral.

  • This whole situation could’ve been handled a lot better by everyone involved. They say hindsight is 20/20, but a lot of this situation comes down to people not taking into consideration their actions.

    First, the pastor could’ve spoken to a manager about the 18% rather than leaving a terrible note – which I don’t care where you work, that would’ve been spread around any office. Next, Applebee’s didn’t need to fire the individual for posting the picture on social media, but rather used that as an opportunity to reinforce their social media policy. Finally, Applebee’s social media manager should have posted an apology and posted it during reasonable hours.

  • This doesn’t sound good for anyone in the marketing group at Applebee’s. We’ll have to take a page out here, really don’t want to offend people online, and lose more customers.

  • Negative posts can always come back to haunt you. Social Media is that area of the internet, that you don’t want to upset your customers. We’ll be taking notes from this error in judgement.

  • It’s funny and sad to see how Applebee’s responded. We can all learn a great lesson from it though.

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