Today, we’re serving up fresh takes on three risks to avoid – and three risks to embrace – when running your company’s social media account. Employees take note: where and what you choose to share on social media channels can either work in your favor, or ruin your business’s reputation. Not all risks are created equal, and for restaurants, social media posts can turn sour faster than milk if not managed correctly.
First, let’s start with some of social media best practices including social media risks for your company and employees to avoid.
Letting a Bad Review Escalate
Bad reviews happen to the best of us. When a customer leaves a negative comment on your Yelp or Facebook page, it’s tempting to respond defensively. Your employees may even want to address the situation to explain their side of the story. This is not a good idea.
Some customers leave negative reviews to be antagonizing. Others leave negative reviews to be helpful. Your job is to keep the response professional and not let the situation get out of hand. Rather than fighting fire with more fire, comment publicly on customer feedback with a polite apology and follow up with someone in private to resolve the situation. Contain the situation before it goes viral by acknowledging their experience; it’s important for other reviewers and potential customers to see that you pay attention and care about their business. Manage this risk actively by responding quickly and moving the conversation off social media.
Avoid Tweets From the Back-of-House
Restaurant 101: don’t let your customers see how the sausage is made. You probably know this, but your employees may not. We’ve all seen how gross photos from the kitchens of McDonald’s and Wendy’s can go viral. Most restaurants are ten times cleaner than these fast food stops, but the risk remains. Don’t let your employees Tweet, Snap, Pin, or Instagram from the kitchen. Some raw ingredients were just not meant to be photographed, and during the busiest lunch rush, your kitchen probably doesn’t look as beautifully tidy as you would normally have it. It’s a huge risk to your restaurants’ reputation to post behind-the-scenes pictures on social media. While you uphold food safety standards, every work of art is a process, and it’s best for your customers to just see the finished product.
Don’t Let Other Businesses Steal Your Ideas
Dominique Ansel’s cronut is a great example of an idea that others tried to steal. As the original creator and recipe-holder for the croissant-donut, Ansel’s bakery commands lines around the block, even though Dunkin Donuts and other brands have made their own attempt to recreate this tasty treat. If you have a proprietary recipe, avoid posting a how-to on social media. Oversharing to the point where other companies can steal your ideas is a big social media risk. There’s a reason why KFC has kept their eleven herbs and spices secret!
That said, there are some areas where taking risks on social media can pay off big-time. Here are some risks to consider when managing your company’s social media channels.
Flaunt Your Bad Reviews
Bad reviews happen, and of course, we don’t wish negative criticism on anyone. While you shouldn’t seek negative feedback, there is a way to turn a bad review into an asset on social media. Bars and restaurants have taken advantage of a negative review as a fun marketing opportunity. Just because one person didn’t enjoy your product, doesn’t mean others feel the same. A negative review can help differentiate your business to someone with different preferences. Embrace the unique things that make your restaurant or bar special!
Let a Customer Take Over Your Account
Give access to your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account to one of your best customers or an industry expert who you trust for the day. A fresh take on what makes your business from a friend or fan great can make all the difference in getting traffic on your platforms. Plus, you get the chance to reach new eyeballs by cross-promoting to their audience. Get feedback on seasonal menu items or new recipes before launching them to all your customers. Show where your ingredients come from by taking an industry expert to a local farm or produce market. Use influencers in your field to share insider tips or host contest for giveaways, prizes, and discounts on your products.
Embrace Ugly Food Pictures
Ugly is the new delicious, according to Top Chef, David Chang. His new show on Netflix embraces the things that make food unique. Instagram photos of brunch are generally eye-roll inducing, so use a little humor to tell a story about your dishes. Yes, it can be risky to show pictures with #nofilter, so back up your posts with a caption about the ingredients and a story about the recipe.
No company is perfect, and imperfection can lead to some risky social media moments. The way you embrace or mitigate those risks can cement your reputation as a great business, or cause more problems down the road.
Michelle Kiss is a digital marketing specialist for ClickTime in San Francisco who focuses on employee productivity, business process management, and marketing automation. She deeply believes that a balanced diet is chocolate in both hands.
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