Social Media Pop Quiz.
You’ve just appeared on “reality” television and came out looking quite a bit foolish. As a second act, you launched into one of the most epic facebook meltdowns in the history of social media. Before reopening, you claimed the account had been hacked, an and hired a PR firm for a total of seven days before parting ways. The entire nation will be watching your reopening waiting for even the slightest slip. How do you function after that?
Personally, I’d move to a rural part of Montana and become a dental floss tycoon. Clearly contact with people hasn’t been my forte thus far.
This is the very real situation faced by the now notorious Amy’s Baking Co. Unwilling to give in to the Yelp haters or the Reddits, they vowed to reopen.
So what would you do?
You get control of the situation and let it blow over. The internet has the attention span of a 6 month old fed coffee. If there’s no drama to see, trolls will move on to the next target.
The challenge is that Zebra’s can’t change stripes that fast. It’s hard to go from a kitchen disaster to Le Bernardin overnight.
What seems to have happened was actual brilliance. While far from a victory in citizen journalism, it might have been exactly the right move.
What actually happened?
ABC seems to have limited their grand reopening to a very small number of people. A group that could be served successfully with little to worry about. Reports came in that only about 7 tables were occupied. Reliable or not, that’s a small enough group to handle calmly.
Ordered the meatball pizza. Also, not a lot of dining guests in here. #AmysBakingCo
— Sheryl (@girlvsplanet) May 22, 2013
Once inside guests were asked to sign consent forms for video taping that would be going on. (Reported on the bottom here)
Media was clearly not invited, and Tweeting was frowned upon in a very “Hangover” way.
Later that appeared to have softened a bit. (or somewhat denied)
More than a few people thought something was up
— Erin’s Voice (@Erins_Voice) May 22, 2013
#amysbakingco How many “social marketing specialists” can you fit in one restaurant?Might want to change up the script a little,
— mesablue (@GeorgeGorn) May 22, 2013
And even so, the final report from the news seemed to be:
— Andrew Hasbun (@andrewfox10) May 22, 2013
If that’s the impression you can leave a blood-thirsty media with, you’ve won.
Was it legitimate?
From afar, it’s hard to tell if all of the diners were plants or legitimate. It’s also hard to tell if our short attention span media will dive in far enough to truly know. At least the majority of those tweeting seemed to have a connection to a PR firm, or get listed as a social media coordinator.
Let’s assume something very unusual. Let’s assume that this was 100% made for cameras and social media. Let’s also assume that the media dives in hard enough to out some of the shills. What has Amy’s lost? Their business was going down in flames without this, so why not take a high risk tactic? I’m not saying they did, but certainly it would be worth the low risk high reward.
If so, it flies in the face of so much social media advice. We constantly hear “be authentic” There’s at least quite a bit of possibility this was as orchestrated as a half time show and it at least has a chance of ending well. I wouldn’t have taken that bet before this.
Will it continue?
This is the biggest question of the them all. Controlled or not, this is the biggest spectacle the company could expect. A non-story, right now, is the best possible story.
It’s a reminder of exactly what they should have done in the first place. The same lesson that we learned in elementary school still applies. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.
What do you think happens in this saga? Will they get outed for a sham? Will Amy’s Baking Company resort to their confrontational ways? Will they fade away from our thoughts an just be another average restaurant? Leave your comments.