Social media is one of the fastest growing platforms for engaging with existing customers and drawing in new ones. But does everyone really get it and can you trust everyone in your office to run your social media accounts to a high enough standard? After all, they are a window into your organisation.
It is the equivalent of getting behind the wheel of your brand. In the same way you wouldn’t hand your car keys over to someone without a license, you should not hand your social media over to someone who is untrained. By ensuring that people are well briefed on the brand messaging you can avoid the possibility of getting into an accident on the social media highways.
Clearly in the case of Birmingham based club China Red – their driver definitely should not have been at the wheel!
When it comes to social media, we all know that the number one advantage is customer engagement but, with that, comes the responsibility to be polite – just as you would if you were face-to-face with them. China Red must have forgotten about this when they were dealing with customer Rowena Murphy’s innocuous question regarding a recent refurbishment of the club.
Commenting on the refurbishment post on Facebook, Rowena innocently asked, “if the toilets had been refurbished?”. A simple question one may think, but the resulting argument led to her being barred from the club and told in no uncertain terms never to darken its door again – all very publicly.
In response to a post asking Rowena did she “have nothing better to do?” than post on the wall, she (in true social media style) copied the entirety of the conversation and posted it on her social media channels. This led to the story going viral and even being picked up by mainstream media in the West Midlands and being retweeted and commented on by hundreds of people.
China Red soon realised that they had made a mistake when, within hours of Rowena publicising the conversation, the hash tag #justwantedtoknowaboutthetoilets had gone viral along with pictures of the offending toilet that Rowena had experienced when she visited the club on New Year’s Eve.
After the furore had reached its peak, both China Red’s Twitter and Facebook accounts quickly disappeared with claims of hacked accounts soon emerging. However, when this resulted in more backlash, the club tried to dismiss the story claiming that several people had access to the accounts and, therefore, it is unclear who was responsible for the messages. They also claimed they had made satisfactory attempts to apologise.
What this demonstrates is the ease with which any story can now go viral. From a simple question, the reputation of China Red is in tatters and the fact that they have had to delete their social media accounts is a massive blow to its ability to advertise to potential and existing customers.
Clearly, the matter should not have escalated to this end. Firstly, the club should have responded to the message thanking Rowena for her query and stating that the toilets had been refurbed, possibly even going as far as to post a picture showing this and other modifications to the club.
Secondly, after Rowena revealed that the reason she asked was due to the state that the toilets were in on NYE, the club should have apologised and made arrangements for Rowena and her friends to enjoy a VIP booth at the club’s expense. This would have shown great customer service and would have been excellent for the reputation of the club.
Ultimately, no-one can say what the long-term ramifications of this social media head-on collision will be for the club, but one thing’s for sure, they are certainly pushing the old adage ‘the only bad publicity is no publicity’ to the limit.
To find out how HROC can help you avoid any social media accidents, be your air bag in a crisis or steer your PR in the right direction call 0121 454 9707 and speak to our team.