Oh and can I have that with an extra side of stupidity, please?
“Hell hath no fury like a Facebook scorned. Applebee’s apparently never took note of this. But the Twitter armies and Facebook vigilantes were more than willing to remind them that we live in a publicized world. Once you cross the line of Internet etiquette, the people of the World Wide Web will hunt you down and do their best to ruin you forever.”
Many have heard about Applebee’s latest collision with virality. But in case you haven’t, here’s a brief synopsis:
The Setting: This story take place at a St. Louis Applebee’s.
The Protagonist: Chelsea Welch – an Applebee’s employee and a colleague of the stiffed server.
The Plot: Employee Chelsea Welch consequently lost her job for “violating a customer’s privacy”, after posting a picture on Reddit of a receipt upon which a pastor had declined to leave a tip, with a snarky note saying “I give God 10% why do you get 18”.
But the “The pastor getting the waitress fired” was only the first chapter of this slow-motion train wreck… Chapter Two: Applebee’s commits digital suicide right in front of our very eyes.
“Applebee’s fired the server in question, named Chelsea Welch. This created a fury of rage on the Internet, with social media users taking to their weapons of choice and lambasting away, thousands at a time, against the restaurant’s decisions. Numerous “Boycott Applebee’s” groups sprung up on Facebook, along with “Rehire Chelsea Welch” and other similar groups.” R.L Stollar provides a wonderful photo essay on exactly what Applebee’s did wrong, but here are a few of my favorite highlights:
1. Applebee’s website has a “What’s the Buzz” feature, which shows what’s trending on Twitter about the company. All of which during this time were relentless attacks, all publicly displayed on Applebee’s own website. This is beyond ridiculous that one might actually think it’s a joke. But it wasn’t. Clearly Applebee’s has no one monitoring its site – BIG mistake #1.
2. Everyone hates a hypocrite, right? Well apparently Applebee’s never got that memo. Next Applebee’s posts a status update, claiming that they were protecting their “guest’s right to privacy.” However, negative comments continued to surge – all with a repeated theme. Apparently, Applebee’s, just two weeks ago, violated another guest’s right to privacy themselves by posting a picture of a note from a guest that clearly featured the guest’s name.
3. Then to make matters worse, Applebee’s started deleting negative comments. What better way to enrage people further than by trying to censor them… You might as well throw gasoline on a fire! Here are a few of my favorite responses.
4. Furthermore, Applebee’s began tagging people repeating their same comment over and over. Oh and I almost forgot to mention that this was all happening around 3a.m in the morning. What a supper professional touch. Not to mention one small teeny tiny detail: PEOPLE DON’T LIKE BEING SENT COPY AND PASTE REPLIES.
5. “Applebee’s now makes its most brilliant move, posting, “No posts have been deleted.” Denial was apparently the company’s PR weapon of choice.”
And so it continues…
WOW! – There are almost no other words needed to explain the inanity, not to mention the complete lack of common sense by Applebee’s. A PR disaster at its finest. Applebee’s possible accomplished every one of PR 101 – what not to do’s. Applebee’s successfully committed PR suicide with the 4 D’s: 1. Defend (hypocritical justification) 2. Delete (removed negative comments) 3. Duplicate (replicated responses to comments) and 4. Deny (refuted the removal of negative comments).
Surely there were multiple times during this crisis that Applebee’s could have turned around this situation or at least minimized the damage. Unfortunately, for them they weren’t able to identify these opportunities or worse just completely didn’t understand how to approach today’s digital audience and interact with social media commentators. Either way, Applebee’s has a lot of cleaning up to do before they can begin to repair their reputation and possibly win back customers.