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Lessons Learned from Small Business Facebook Flubs

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Small business owners are some of the busiest people in America. Without a large staff for support, small business owners find themselves juggling all of the HR/payroll responsibilities, balancing the books, the employment screening and hiring process, firing and more– and that’s on top of running the day to day operations of the business. Under the circumstances, it’s understandable that social media management can take a low priority on a small business owner’s to-do list.

Unfortunately, without daily or weekly updating and monitoring, your small business Facebook page could be doing more harm than good. A recent CMO Council study found the average customer, when posting a complaint or inquiry to a Facebook page, expects a response from the company within just 24 hours. Chances are, if you’re running a small business, maintaining this turnaround time on customer response is nearly impossible.

Flub #1: Administrative rights in the wrong hands
In March 2012, a local restaurant in Watkinsville, Georgia announced their Caribbean Black and Bleu burger special via Facebook, writing that “Chris Brown won’t beat you up for eating this unless your name starts with a R and ends with A.”

It didn’t take long for Facebook fans to call out the offensive post, clearly written in poor taste.  “What’s so funny about domestic violence?” wrote Cecilia Herles. “My family goes here, but I’m not going anymore.”

Even worse, the restaurant did not issue a public apology within that critical 24-hour response period that customers have come to expect.

Within days, the Facebook flub was a national news story- and the restaurant found itself donating six times the proceeds from their original burger special to a local anti-violence organization.

Lesson learned: Create a clear company policy on who can post content on behalf of your organization and when an owner’s approval is needed. Be extremely cautious of who gains access to your Facebook admin page login information. In this case, a chef had logged in to the company’s social media sites to post a burger special, unfortunately adding his own, humorous twist. Only staff qualified in the areas of marketing/PR and communications should be posting for your company and responding to customer issues that arise. Furthermore, make sure your Facebook admins are well-established employees and know your small business and industry well. Your social media sites must be consistent in using appropriate language for your target demographic.

Flub #2: A disgruntled employee targets your page
A satisfied customer of Reser’s Fine Foods, a billion-dollar industry leader in refrigerated foods, visited their Facebook page back in November 2011 to comment on how much she enjoyed their frozen dinners and asked the company where she could obtain coupons for their products.

Just minutes later, a man who identified himself as “J Fame Tha Pacman” posted that he was a current employee at Reser’s and publicly commented on the frozen food giant’s behind-the-scenes dish preparation, writing, “I work at Reser’s… and I haven’t washed my gloves in over a month- Why don’t anybody tell me to wash my gloves?” Using explicit language, this employee went on to paint a grotesque picture of his unsanitary personal hygiene at the end of his 12-hour shift. By the next day, a Reser’s representative had removed the employee’s comments… but unfortunately, not before the once-satisfied customer took down a detailed account of the worker’s claims to present to company officials.

Lesson learned: Disgruntled employees are much easier to identify in a small business setting. If someone on your staff is unhappy working for you or they have recently parted ways with your business, sign up to receive real-time text message alerts on their Facebook activity. While you can’t control their personal page, you can at least immediately delete any negative content they post to your business’s page before many of your fans have a chance to see it. To be safe, you should also change out your passwords on all social media logins.

Paul Prudente is the vice president and COO of Moco, Inc., which provides tenant and employment screening services under the MyScreeningReport.com and Moco Inc, The Information Source brands. They have provided property owners and employers with high quality residential and pre-employment screening services since 1989.

About the author: Paper Free Invoices started out as a small blog for my invoicing software business Paper Free Billing but has morphed into something much more useful. I’ve really enjoyed reading the guest articles and speaking with guest publishers so much so I’m always looking for talented bloggers to contribute. If you have any questions or feedback on this article, please find your voice in the comment section, we will try to answer every genuine comment!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Chris Wetherell

    The disgruntled employee scenario sound scary as a business owner. Could his words be considered slanderous and could legal action be taken against him for it?

    • I’d imagine that having some kind of business insurance would be a must, if something like this were to happen and the business gets chased for slander, then it could start getting very expensive, very quickly.

  • Fonso

    I never realized that Facebook pages could do so much damage to a business. There are some settings that hide all posts made by others so that you or a qualified representative may screen new posts. You can also manage admin roles like Manager, Administrator and Content Creator on created Facebook pages.

    • Phyllis Moore

      @Fonso, That’s very good to know. Thank you.

      Yes, a company has to be very careful with Facebook, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, negative feedback spreads quickly and has the potential to go viral, and ultimately to get media attention. We have seen this in the past, including the incident mentioned in the article.

      If a company does face this situation, I think they must immediately take action. The owner or other higher-up in the company can issue an on-camera apology and post the video on YouTube as soon as possible. I have observed that some of the larger corporations who are social-media savvy will do this. I think this is a good idea as that video might also go viral, and media can broadcast excerpts from the video as part of a follow-up story on the situation.