Social Media Lessons You Can Learn from Amy’s Baking Company Meltdown

posted this in
Social Media
on May 15th, 2013

Update: The owners are now claiming their website, Facebook and Yelp were hacked. Although this is unlikely, even if true you can still learn from this catastrophe.

Amy’s Baking Company has been featured on Mashable, BuzzFeed and a number of other online publications. The number of likes on their Facebook Page are growing by the minute, their “engagement” is way up, and their website was down because it was getting so much traffic.

Plus, they’ve also received over 200 new Yelp reviews!

But this is far from a success story – it’s actually a perfect example of what NOT to do. So what happened? They were featured on Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey. If you haven’t seen the episode check out the video here.

Even the most violent company implosions can teach you something. So here’s a quick look at what Amy’s Baking Company’s meltdown can teach you about using social media for your business.

Don’t Rely on Vanity Metrics Like Engagement and Number of Likes

If your business is on Facebook, you are probably familiar with both the number of “likes” you have as well as the number that Facebook displays next to that one - the “number of people talking about this” (also known as engagement.)

While these metrics can help determine the success of different social media campaigns you run, they shouldn’t be the end goal. Just look at Amy’s Baking Company’s Facebook Page.

At the time of this writing, they have 51,126 likes and 3,653 people talking about them. That seems like great news! Unless you actually dig deeper and see what people are saying and why they’re saying it.

Online Review Communities Are Gaining Importance

It’s no secret that Yelp isn’t perfect, and this is only the latest example. While Yelp strives to only show real reviews from real customers, its system doesn’t always work.

And the 200 (almost exclusively negative) reviews posted yesterday in response to the show and the company’s Facebook posts prove that.

But with all that aside, the lesson you can learn is that people are increasingly turning to review communities. This is good for businesses who put the customer first and bad for those that don’t. So, get your customer service in line and develop an online reputation strategy.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything At All

Your mom probably taught you this one, but it’s no less true online.

The owners at Amy’s Baking Company felt attacked by the show and people commenting on their Facebook as a result of the show. But lashing out in hate and attacking people back was not the answer. (Last I checked, calling your customers “punks” and “fools” isn’t good customer service.)

Trolls feed on anger and hate. If someone is “trolling” on your business Facebook Page, don’t stoop to their level and return an “eye for an eye”.

If this truly was a case of misunderstanding and clever editing on the part of Kitchen Nightmares, a thoughtfully crafted and honest response would have served Amy’s Baking Company much better. Perhaps as a blog?

Social Media Gives the Power Back to Your Customers

If that statement scares you, you may want to re-think your business plan.

No matter what industry you are in, your customers will talk about you. And more and more it’s happening online, in public places like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

Bad experiences and stories can spread like a wildfire. That’s why it’s so important that you have made an emphasis on customer service and have a social media strategy to back it up.

What do you think? Are there any other lessons to be learned from this social media disaster? Let us know what you think on Facebook.