Lessons learned from the Amy's Baking fiasco on Facebook
I'll admit it: this post is primarily shadenfreude, only thinly masquerading as helpful advice. In the age of all-access internet, I find the actions of this couple quite hard to believe. The truth is that most of you are probably already aware that you shouldn't yell at people, call people names or lie on your company Facebook page. If I needed to tell you that, we would have a lot more work to do together before you typed one more keystroke in publicly available social media.
However, some Samy and Amy Bouzaglo never got that message. The owners of Amy's Baking Company Boutique and Bistro were kicked off the TV show Kitchen Nightmares for being too difficult to work with. Fans of the show and netizens took to their Facebook page with some downright nasty comments.
And let's face it: it is really hard to read nasty accusations and commentary posted about you, publicly, from people who don't know you personally. That being said, if I were to give the Bouzaglo's one piece of advice, it would be not to respond to negative comments at all. Responding to negative comments, much like responding to bullies, is pointless and exhausting. And, much like wrestling with a pig, nobody wins, and everybody ends up dirty.
In this case, however, the two simply couldn't leave well enough alone. They took to the page and blasted out self-righteous messages in all caps, calling the commenters "sinners," claiming that they themselves were "of God," and commanding everyone to "shut up." A full account of their tirades and users' responses are recounted in grisly detail on Buzzfeed. The article reports that the owners even doctored a Facebook post to make it appear as if the police were calling users before calling everyone "punks" and claiming to have "God on [their] side."
All of the negative comments from Amy's Baking have been removed from the Facebook page, an action which in itself is a major social media faux pas. And, incredibly, the latest post belatedly claims that the all-cap negative vitriol was the result of a hack rather than the voice of the owners. They claim the FBI is checking it out. (Yeah, I'm sure the FBI will get right on that.)
How to respond to negative comments on Facebook
Schadenfreude aside, let's make this post something useful. It's possible that you might receive negative comments or be called names on your own Facebook page, even if you aren't crazy bakers who were so terrible you were kicked off reality TV, which has notably low standards for human behavior to begin with. So what have we learned from this worst-of-the-worst Facebook meltdown?
- Not all comments require a response Just like your momma taught you, if folks are calling names, just ignore them. Feel free to correct factual errors or engage in friendly conversations, but don't feel the need to respond to negative comments. Remember: pig wrestling.
- Never post when angry An addendum to the "never post when drunk" rule, keep in mind that everything you post is public. Even if you deny it and delete it, netizens will cache your content and call you out. Count to ten. If you feel you must respond, wait 24 hours for the anger to subside before composing a response.
- Use this opportunity to show your character Never pass up a chance to be the better person. If you absolutely must respond, make sure that everything you say is a reflection of your core values with respect to how you believe people should be treated. Look at it this way: what would you say if there were a camera crew filming your reponse to this situation for the evening news, and you knew your grandmother was watching? Because that's kind of what Facebook is. Use negative commentary as an opportunity to represent your brand in a way you can be proud of.
- Never, ever lie The internet will find you out and mock you endlessly. Don't pretend that it's illegal to be mean on Facebook and that police are contacting mean people. Don't say that your account was hacked when it wasn't. No one will believe you, anyway, and some will go out of their way to prove it.
- Never remove comments or posts Unless a commenter uses a slur or threatens violence, leave the negative comments up. And if you have posted something that is less than flattering to your brand, let it stand as well. It looks better to make a mistake and then make an apology than to make a mistake and try to cover it up.
In short, know who your brand is, know what it values, and make sure that every comment and post reflects that brand.
Added 7:01 PM Pacific: Great PR advice for Amy's Baking from Mike Schaffer