A play-by-play of what Buzzfeed.com is calling “the most epic brand meltdown on Facebook ever” is being shared and reshared across social media this week. The basics? Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro was recently featured on an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s show Kitchen Nightmares. After being kicked off the show, owners Samy and Amy Bouzaglo started posting on the restaurant’s Facebook page, defending themselves against nasty comments from users. This only fuelled the nasty comments, which only fuelled the Bouzaglos’ defensiveness, leading to more comments, and…you get the idea. There are a lot of comments.
The Bouzaglos managed to go viral without meaning to.
Before long (this all happened in one night) someone had started a Reddit thread posted to r/cringepics about the Bouzaglos’ Facebook meltdown. That fed the Facebook posts. The comments escalated, ending in a lot of all-caps anger on the part of these restaurant owners.
These are not your typical business owners, but this incident does highlight the nature of social media: it’s hard to control. Whatever you put out there can build in ways you never intended. Once it’s out there, you have no control over where it ends up. As the editors of The Onion will tell you, once you tweet something, you can’t untweet it. An off-the-cuff joke it posted on Twitter in February bred bad press for the satire site long after it had been deleted.
The lesson? Be clever, have fun, tweet—but never forget that the internet can be unkind. If something does backfire on you, handle it with grace and restraint (and never all-caps obscenities…). And, most importantly, always make sure you have a contingency plan in case of crisis.