With diners ready to share feedback for all to see with the push of a button, choosing how to handle a situation that could yield negative press is a delicate balance online. There are many ways to steer a social media conversation with customers, from setting the tone to abstaining from online chatter altogether. Here’s how some operators are navigating social media blowbacks (or the potential for them) online.
Chipotle remains neutral as its queso takes a hit
After testing its queso dip earlier this year, Chipotle took the product nationwide earlier this month, giving many fans their first taste of its molten cheese. Unfortunately, diners were overwhelmingly not fans of the cheese dip, at least on social media, where they vocalized complaints to Chipotle, with one fan going so far as to tweet it was the “biggest disappointment of 2017.” Ouch. Chipotle is appearing to stay neutral in the online queso debate, responding to fans with a few standard apologies and citing its use of unprocessed ingredients as explanation for why the queso might be different to some customers.
Chili’s sets the tone for a menu shift
As Chili’s prepares to cut about 40% of its offerings, it’s using a social media campaign to set the tone for the switch and stave off disappointed diners mourning departing dishes. Marketing the menu changes will begin next month, but Chili’s is broadcasting “In Menumoriam” videos to bid farewell to some of the items being cut. The videos, posted on Chili’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, have a playful tone, with some of them spoofing classic film goodbyes. A video riffing on a scene from “Titanic” while saying farewell to the chain’s Smothered Carnitas Burrito grabbed over 200,000 views and more than 200 shares on Facebook. And while some fans are sad to see certain dishes go, most social media responses have expressed positivity or curiosity, making the videos a nice ramp up to the retooled menu launch.
A concept chooses to opt out
A bakery in Austin, Texas, took the nuclear route with social media recently, deciding to shut down its Facebook page altogether after an incident at its store led to an extensive negative response. Baguette et Chocolat's page became a battleground for gun rights activists when the editor of a gun website wrote about his experience at the patisserie, which has a sign prohibiting open and concealed carry on its premises. The piece led to numerous negative reviews on Yelp and Facebook, and the restaurant told Eater.com it would shut down the Facebook page because its star rating was so negatively affected, with one of its owners saying, “We don’t want to deal with it.”