The Pen is even Mightier than the Sword…

23 Jan

the pen is mightier than the swordI work with several solopreneurs by helping them build their online communities in meaningful ways. I teach them how to harness Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media avenues and use them as tools to drive business and monitor their brands. I do not represent any of the Fortune 500 companies. Instead, I am very proud of the job I do helping small businesses level the playing field through social media. These are one of a kind brick and mortar salons, restaurants, wineries, mechanic shops, coffee houses….you get the idea. They take great pride in their work, and their businesses aren’t just about bread and butter: It is their heart and soul.

There is an unfortunate trend among some social media dabblers to tweet first and ask questions later. The days of asking to see the manager when you have a complaint has been replaced with reaching for the iPhone and tweeting directly from the dinner table. Don’t like your haircut? Try talking to the salon before giving that one star review on Twitter. You owe it to them to give them a chance to make things right before you go public with scrutiny.

One example: A woman who was unhappy with her haircut and color at a local salon, but waited a full three months before unleashing a rant on Yelp that was so scathing that it would scare anyone away. This woman never called the salon directly, and seemed to just appear out of no where. Her review is front and center on this salon’s Yelp page. It has brought this salon’s rating down a full 1.5 stars, which is quite a bit if you are struggling to keep your doors open.(more on Yelp and their dubious screening practice in another blog)

Another example: A couple who made reservations at a restaurant, and arrived 15 minutes early. It took them 20 minutes to be seated, and they complained about being seated 20 minutes late, even though they really only waited an additional 5 minutes from the reservation time. They similarly started the same mental time clock when they reported how long it took them to get served dinner…counted the 20 minutes waiting for their table as if they had already put in the order…Again, they never said anything during their time in the restaurant, and they never asked to speak to a manager, nor did they express any kind of displeasure to their server. They then ranted, not just to Yelp, but to Citysearch, Trip Advisor, and Urban Spoon.

As the Social Media Director to several smaller businesses, I see my role as cyber GM…I must patrol the social streams daily and alert business owners when something has gone awry. Often times, I can catch a disgruntled patron tweeting while they are still in a restaurant, and it takes a quick phone call to remedy. But I am shocked at how many times I will call a restaurant to let them know that “customer X didn’t like the clams” only to find out that the patron never told their server this information. Customers have a right to satisfactory service and quality products, but they also have a responsibility to go through the proper channels before taking their grievances public.

I’m not saying that it is necessary to add an extra star for the small mexican hole in the wall restaurant vs. the neighborhood Applebees, but I dare say that each mom and pop establishment can be just one bad Yelp review away from obscurity. So, please think twice before you press send on that scathing review, and make sure you’ve given them a chance to make it right before you go around publicly scrutinizing.

This is how I think  it should go:

So please measure twice before you cut once. Think before you tweet, and tweet responsibly. Okay…stepping off my soapbox!!


7 Responses to “The Pen is even Mightier than the Sword…”

  1. sandysview January 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    Good points well made. I’m a big user of review sites and always try and be balanced and also will let the owner/manager know whats what before going online. My 92 year old mother in law also uses them.

    Sometimes it’s not just the seller or owner who can have a head explosion.

    I got her a new PC when her laptop died and Imagine my surprise when having secured an upgrade on her previous broken computer, an item she does not understand the workings of, she goes onto the internet to read reviews of the computer I have got for her. Frankly I was even somewhat taken aback that she decided the reviews were poor and asked “had I done the right thing in selecting that particular PC”. While I know exactly what she will use the PC for (and had chosen accordingly) it would appear she values the judgement of people she doesnt know, complaining about a product I didn’t buy, over mine. Grrrr

    • thyroidinfo January 23, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      awww…. so funny, though! Has she ever heard the term “Looking a gift horse in the mouth”? 😛

  2. Robin E. Thornton (@RobinEThornton) January 25, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    It’s much easier to write a few scathing words and hit “send” that to look a human being in the eye and say, “The soup is cold.” My clams are too garlicky.” and then to, perhaps, have to explain to a second person why you are not happy or satisfied.
    It takes a level of maturity to initiate, and deal with, the resulting conflict — because this is a conflictual situation. This is the type of interaction that Social Media make it so easy to avoid. Yes, that is wrong!
    Everyone deserves a chance to make things right.

  3. Lisha February 4, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    That’s very interesting and very sad that some people are so quick to take revenge like they have so much pain they’re holding inside that they need to take it out on what truly is the innocent. Good article. however, I’m wondering if the right people are going to read it… the people who need to learn the lesson to tell the person directly when you have a problem and see if it can be resolved, rather than talking behind someone’s (or a business’s) back. Not good..


    • thyroidinfo February 4, 2012 at 11:39 pm #


      Agreed. I’m thinking about posting this blog on some Yelp forums….

  4. Jess February 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Oh but what an appropriate soapbox it is these days! People feel they have a right to vocalize an “honest opinion;” however, as a responsible patron, they have an obligation to give a complete and honest critique. If they encounter an issue, the experience isn’t complete without giving the business a chance to address the issue.

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