Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Tweet, or Not to Tweet?

A serious question, perhaps. My current dilemma is, after a bad experience at a restaurant, should I tweet about it, hoping to catch the attention of the restaurant? We know that social media gives the consumer an incredible amount of power. With 140 characters (or less) I can share with the world (or at least with my followers) my discontent with a certain soup and sandwich chain, which gave me at most ¾ of a bowl of soup. But what do I really achieve?
I know that if this restaurant has a good marketing team working on social media, they will see my complaint and perhaps respond. But, let’s be honest, my life was not greatly impacted by the fact that I had less soup fordinner. So maybe I was a bit hungry, and maybe I was especially frustrated because after being sick, it feels wonderful to eat real meals, but it’s just soup.

In the end I opted not to complain via Twitter. And I opted to leave the name of the restaurant out of this blog post. But I want to throw the question out there, what would you do? Knowing the full power of mediums such as Twitter to attract attention would you, or have you used social media to voice your customer service complaints? Did you get a response? Was it the one you were hoping for?

I leave you with a couple thoughts. First of all, we have probably all seen the video of “United Breaks Guitars”that got international attention and became a PR nightmare for the unresponsive United Airlines (If you haven’t seen it, please YouTube it). While in my New Media Marketing class at UCSD extension we consider what this type of power means for companies that must respond to their customers via social media, I also question what it means for us as consumers. Is this power a good thing?


  1. Honestly, I've never even thought that little ol' me could have any impact on a company via a complaint through social networking. Then again, maybe that's my SOUTHERN upbringing reminding me that I am just a girl in a man's world. That's whole other discussion! So the simple answer is no I do not feel more empowered as a consumer through social networking. As a side note, what happened to writing letters (the snail mail kind) when you were really upset about something. Wait. Is that your whole premise? Talk about coming full circle!

  2. Well essentially tweeting could be similar to writing letters, but the difference is that tweets are public so your message could reach a lot of people. Great, right? But wait, for some reason I also have a bit of a problem with this. Like, why should I tell EVERYONE that I didn't get a full bowl of soup the other night. Does anyone care? I get that this possibility makes the business care more, but still, for soup, I really don't expect that there is anything to gain for me.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I think that social media has a tremendous impact not just on large chains with hashtaggable brand names but also on individual locations or independent restaurants. Social media sites like Yelp allow you to give a star rating and written review to any business at any location. These sites have moved from simple recommendation services to full blown social media with the ability to add friends to you profile, check-in to show that you're a regular, and send messages and encouragement to other users.
    Yelp, and websites like it, have changed the way that businesses are run. It's no longer just about physical location, location, location; the web presence is now very important, especially to a new business. Restaurateurs are accountable to every patron in a public forum now.
    You have the power now, to not just voice your displeasure with the management, but with a target audience of people that have an interest in going to that restaurant. That's powerful, and helpful for consumers everywhere, and that is a good thing.