Social Media For Organizations: We’re Not In Kansas Anymore
If you’ve missed the latest meltdown on social media, here’s the exhaustive post-by-post that was found on the BuzzFeed Food page. Here’s a summary, if you don’t want to read the BuzzFeed post (although I highly suggest it!): on Friday, May 10th, Fox’s Kitchen Nightmare’s aired an episode at a Scottsdale, AZ restaurant. Gordon Ramsay spent the episode trying to work with owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo of Amy’s Baking Company, who at different times: physically assaulted a customer; prevented communication between the front and back of house; fired a server; and withheld tips from their wait staff. On TV! Part 1 is here; and Part 2 is here, where Ramsay walks out of his first restaurant without finishing his work. Unable to take criticism, Amy remains combative to the very end and the celebrity chef realizes that any consultation is futile.
While this makes great TV, it only got more entertaining on their social media platforms. Upon the close of the show, the citizens of the web began to visit them on their Facebook page and Twitter account, raining down criticism upon the couple for their poor business practices. After several days of comments, they struck back via social platforms. (If you haven’t yet read the BuzzFeed, here’s the link again. Seriously, go read it. I’ll wait until you come back…)
Unbelievable, eh? If I hadn’t watched Part 2 with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe what I saw on their Facebook page. After they finally turned off their spewing on Monday night, May 14th, they logged back on two days later to delete their verbal attacks, and post that they had been hacked. I find that highly doubtful, given what was seen on TV. Although we could debate about this authenticity, it brings me to the point of this post: organizational culture and client perception.
The Window of Your Organization
To start us off, this is an extreme case. It’s almost hyberbolic; it’s in the “you can’t make this stuff up” category. But that makes it a case study on how we use social media in our organizations. Amy’s Baking Company has a caustic organizational culture and dysfunctional leadership. It’s evident from the footage on the TV episode. Whether or not they actually did post it is almost beside the point, because it lines up with what we saw on TV. As an organization we can’t turn off who we are, and that shows up online as well. They lost self-control on their accounts, and responded in the digital space in the same way they do in their brick and mortar space. We’ve all been there in life sometimes, yes? We get stuck in our emotions and can’t get out; we watch ourselves being unreasonable from afar, knowing we are making the situation worse. In their case they don’t see they’re stuck, and it’s an issue of character that drives their now-dying small business.
Social media forces our transparency, whether we willfully participate or not. When we interact with folks in real life (IRL), they get a sense of who we are, how we provide services, care for them as a client, etc. When they interact with us on social mediums, our consistency -or lack thereof- becomes evident very quickly. Remember: social mediums are founded on relational interactions, on relationships themselves. If I’m shady in my business practice but put on a charming persona on my Twitter account, I’m not gonna get a lot of business. People will see it, fast. How well our online presence lines up with our face to face interactions will be proven very quickly. Social media for organizations could make or break a business.
At least Amy’s has one thing going for them: they’re consistent. Too bad their org culture will corrode them from the inside out.