Restaurant Ejects Diner for Tweeting While Eating - UPDATED
|Then again, some restaurants encourage Tweeting while eating.|
In the case of Wow Bao, the restaurant handled its potentially negative situation in a constructive, positive manner: It offered gift certificates to a fellow Twitter user asking if the restaurant was truly as bad as the reviews he'd read, politely asking him to come in and find out for himself.
In the case of Down House, the situation was handled perhaps a little bit more inelegantly. And while there is no shortage of lists or articles explaining the best ways to use Twitter for restaurants, there are very few explaining how not to use it.
"However you feel about Twitter, it makes a big difference," says Kevin Strickland, owner of Ziggy's Bar & Grill and an avid Twitter user, who runs the account for both of his restaurant's locations. "I depend on it. It allows me to have a dialogue with my customers, and they'll usually get a response from me."
Strickland emphasizes that Twitter should not be used by restaurateurs eager to take a crack back at unruly diners. "I've done the opposite," he points out, referring to times when he's seen patrons Tweet about a bad meal elsewhere, and inviting them in to have a better meal at Ziggy's on him.
Many restaurants choose to handle their own Twitter accounts like Strickland. After all, humanizing a business's Twitter account is the best way to ensure that people will follow and interact with it. But it can easily lead to hurt feelings on either side without a third party -- a PR firm or a social media team -- to mediate between restaurants and customers when complaints are made so visible, so public.
"Twitter is so of the moment, and people sometimes lose control of their emotions in a way they wouldn't if they were talking to the person face-to-face," notes Murphy. "People will always complain and people have always complained. It's just with social media, there's a totally different platform from which to do it. In the past, someone would call you up and you would deal with the complaint and the resolution of the situation one on one."
"I just think in dealing with social media, you need to handle it just like customer service," she says. "Take it with a grain of salt, approach the person with professionalism and try to talk it out."
Says Strickland, who sympathizes with Down House: "A problem with social media is that it allows you to vent and have a knee-jerk reaction. Once you put it out there, you can't take it back. It's so rude. You're talking about a person that's sitting in your restaurant, who could easily talk to a waiter or a manager. It's very passive-aggressive. That's really frustrating."
On the other hand, he says, Twitter can be an equally positive outlet when used constructively. "Ironically, the nice thing about Twitter users is that they're a lot nicer, a lot less snarky than on Facebook," he says.
"Maybe it's harder to whine in 140 characters."
UPDATE: Allison Matsu got in touch with us today. Her comment on the situation and her original Tweet follows on the next page.