Respond to My Social Media Faux Pas? #Bqhatevwr!

Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts Senator, had a pretty interesting weekend…and for the rest of us, we still don’t know what happened.

Before the elections last year, it was quite apparent that most of Brown’s tweets were crafted and sent out by his staffers. However, after he lost the election to Elizabeth Warren, it seemed Brown’s twitter handlers moved behind the scenes and Brown was unfettered in sharing some of his personal pursuits. He let the world know he was at the gym, asked if anyone knew where “Petey’s” was, and let us know about his culinary delights at “Mul’s Diner.” There was really nothing of note that came out of Brown’s tweets from his personal activities…until last weekend.

On Friday evening around 6:00pm,Brown tweeted, “Yes. Get Ready” supposedly in response to the Democrat’s slogan, “Are you ready?” It was a cryptic tweet, which some construed to mean that he was going to go after the Senate slot made vacant by John Kerry’s appointment to Secretary of State. This caused the Twitter critics to come out against Brown, digging up old bones related to his campaign tactics.

Shortly after midnight Brown responded with this tweet: “Bqhatevwr” (and other short responses…see below)

ScottBrownTweets (1)

Shortly after this late night (early morning) exchange, Brown then deleted these responses and his Twitter page has been eerily silent with no explanation for what happened. This has led to many speculations as to what happened, with some going so far as saying Brown was a little tipsy and it was the alcohol speaking. Whether that is true or not, it seems that many anxiously await an answer on what Brown was doing and why he didn’t respond.

In a world where it is very difficult to “delete” any of your internet activities (especially if you are in the limelight), the worst thing to do is exactly what Brown did, which was delete and go silent. This, included with what was destined to become a meme and an instant hashtag (#Bqhatevwr), was a recipe for a PR disaster.

Scott Brown Bqhatevwr-large

There are many lesson that can be learned from this experience, but I would like to highlight two here.

The FIRST is that if your image or brand is important to what you are trying to accomplish on a business, political, or any other level make sure your tweets and posts are vetted by someone who has a clue about image and brand management. I addressed this more in depth when discussing the Staffers Gone Wild (

The SECOND is if you do commit a faux pas on your social media account, have a plan in place to address it and do it as quickly as possible. People are usually more forgiving if you ‘fess up and admit your mistakes. If you delete and go dark, people are more likely to speculate, give more attention to what would have been a non-story, and wonder what you’re trying to hide. Mr. Brown could have easily made this story go away with a quick explanation that he may have been a little tired and responded from a quick late-night emotion. A good example of how a faux pas was addressed was KitchenAid’s recent social media blunder (

It will be interesting to see if Mr. Brown gives a response sometime soon, but if he doesn’t…bqhatevwr.

At Avalaunch Media we are experts in helping to protect your company from the pitfalls of social media misuse. For more information and to find out how you can start protecting your business, visit us at:

KitchenAid Whips Up a Good Social Media Crisis Response

Last week, while the Presidential candidates were duking it out on stage in Colorado, another battle was waging behind the scenes on Twitter. During the debate, President Obama attempted to rebut Romney’s healthcare voucher program by analogizing a story from his dear, sweet grandmother’s life. Immediately, amongst the many people exercising their free speech rights on Twitter, someone posted:

What normally would have been passed off as a tasteless joke by some rude Tweeter, received immediate attention from all. Why?? Because of the small detail that the tweet came from a well known brand that many mothers and grandmothers use on a daily basis….KitchenAid. Uh Oh.

It was quickly discovered that the person writing the tweet accidentally did so from the KitchenAid account and not from their own personal account. While the tweet was only up for a short time, it was there long enough for others to see, respond, and even page capture the image (as seen above). I am assuming that this employee is no longer with KitchenAid and definitely should not be anywhere near social media. The reality is that issues similar to these can happen with any company at any time.

In this situation, it appears that for the sake of KitchenAid’s brand name, there was a happy ending. As shown below KithchenAid’s response was timely, appropriate, and a model for how a social media crisis should be handled.

Cynthia Soledad, Senior Director of KitchenAid Brand immediately took the reins, accepted full responsibility, explained the situation and apologized to everyone and the offended (Mr. Obama) personally. She then sent numerous tweets to news outlets and invited them to contact her for further information and a statement. I am not sure if KitchenAid had a formal Social Media Crisis Response Plan in place, but it appears that they had planned for and discussed what they would do if a situation such as this arose.

How would your company respond if something like this occurred? Have you discussed social media crisis situations with your managers and employees? What type of Social Media Policy do you have in place to help prevent something like this from happening? Have you provided safeguards and educated your employees sufficiently to deter these types of social media faux pas?

Remember the old adage, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. At Avalaunch Media we are experts in helping to protect your company from the pitfalls of social media misuse. For more information and to find out how you can start protecting your business, visit us at:



Are You Causing Your Own Reputation Problems?

It’s no secret, I love Yelp, and have been an active Yelper since April of 2008.  I was reading a discussion on my local Yelp thread today about about a business going in and creating 9 different profiles, and submitting the same company (a computer repair service company – my guess was his) a 5 star review on each one.  I get it, you want to try and game the system, figure out how to push the boundaries … but cmon’ that’s just damn stupid!

Not only did the accounts all get removed and banned from Yelp, but the business then proceeded to get real reviews, (for doing so) from real – active Yelpers – and trust me … they are not good.   In less then a day, this idiot business owner has created himself a reputation management nightmare that will be very hard to overcome.  Yelp ranks well, as he obviously knew, but what he failed to understand is why it ranks so well (much trust), and how the community works.  These negative nasty reviews on his business listing (the real one finally – haha) will probably rank above his website, or close to it, and guess what?  It’s always going to be there!

Check out the sad screen-shot of this dudes Yelp Listing as of today: It is not my intent to call any one out in this post, I am simply using this as a teaching opportunity.  (I just didn’t feel right putting their contact info all our in the open, or the Yelpers slamming them, so that is why I blacked it out.  I am sure if you really want to find out, you can!)  So far, they have 3 reviews, and are all one star and negative because of how they tried to spam Yelp, and guess what?  This page is going to rank well on Google FOR THEIR BUSINESS NAME, and forever haunt them!

Reputation Management Nightmare
Yelp Reviews Slamming This Business

The moral of the story ladies and gentlemen? When it comes to reviews, reputation management and Yelp? – Don’t be an idiot like this spammer!  The community does a really good job of weeding this stuff out (and policing – as you can see), and an even better job when you make it as obvious as this user did.  The Yelp community does not make it a point to go and leave negative reviews for a person who just doesn’t know better, but when someone is as blatant as this spammer was – they will react, and you will end up with a reputation nightmare on Yelp, AND Google!

If you have a business and you want it on Yelp, go fill out the Yelp for business and let the reviews come naturally.  They will, and if you focus on running a good ethical business and taking care of people, then you need not worry about what people will say.  They will take care of you in communities like this, trust me!

Can You Benefit From Negative Reviews?

Today I read a post by Matt McGee5 Ways Negative Reviews Are Good For Business – I just want to expand on one of them here, but hat tip to Matt for posting this.  It really is worth a read!

The point I want to take a closer look at here is: They help you make better business decisions.

You don’t set up a business hoping it receives tons of negative reviews.  My guess is most (legitimate) business owners that have a ton of negative reviews are truly sad about them, and didn’t set up their business planning on getting them.

Where I think businesses do fail:

Lets say you’re checking out your online listings and are “Googling” yourself and you see a ton of negative reviews.  Most business owners first thoughts are: “How do I get rid of theses negative results” or the might not even know where to begin to even think that.  Here is what they need to be doing – Take the time and read the reviews, ALL of them and make a plan of action to do better as a business owner.  This is the most important step – listening to your customers and accepting the feedback.

My biggest piece of advice?

Start monitoring your reputation better.  If you are low budget, the very first thing you need to be setting up is Google Alerts for everything related to your business and name.  It is really simple to do.

Let me show you:

Just go to the Google Alerts page and you will see this:

Setting Up Google Alerts
Setting Up Google Alerts

You will have several options to fill out.  Most important is the Search Terms, and I would suggest setting up a couple of alerts for your business name and URL (anyway anyone could type it)  Dream Systems Media, dreamsystemsmedia,, etc (any and all variations possible).  You just include those terms for each alert you set up.  Then you are asked other questions like the Type of Alert you want, and How Often.  You will then start getting the Alerts sent right to your email.  It really is that easy.

Setting up Google Alerts
Setting up Google Alerts

Once businesses do a better job of monitoring their reputation and listening to what the customers are saying, eventually the positive results (reviews) will start coming in and help push the negative reviews down and away.  Just remember to listen and fix the problem – rather then do nothing at all.

Thanks again Matt for making me (think about and) want to share this reputation management tip!  This is a simple step (I know), but as I know Andy Beal would agree – people are not doing a good job monitoring their reputation.  If you work hard enough at taking the “cus” out of customer service your business reviews will be thanking you!

Can You Be Bought?

Can You Be Bought?
Can You Be Bought?

I am talking about reviews, and review sites.  This is just something I was wondering if other people struggled with too, especially after an experience I had over the weekend that involved some really hard thinking about the subject. I am a huge fan of reviews and people giving their honest opinions, but I am also a huge fan of businesses doing everything they can to eliminate negative results and trying to remedy a problem.

I just don’t feel right about naming the business here (I am sure if you dug deep enough you could figure it out), but lets just put it this way – I did a pretty bad review (but 100% honest) because of an experience I had that was not good at all. It was a food place, and the actual owner of the place contacted me about the review and asked me if I would be willing to give his place a second chance? I want to make this clear – he never once asked me to take the review down, just to give his place a second chance.  Here is the kicker though, he offered me a gift card that would cover the cost of my meal to try them again.

I went ahead and accepted the gift card, and felt if he was willing to monitor his brand name and online reputation, that I would be willing to give him and his business a second chance. This is where it got me thinking though. There is a side of me that preaches reputation monitoring and wants me to sing praises to this guy, but what if the experience is no good again? Am I obligated to offer a good review? Am I obligated to take down the negative review that I already wrote about them? If so – does that mean I was bought?

I went to this place over the weekend and gave it a second chance and the experience was much better then the first time, but I still felt the food was not worth the money they charge for it. Besides that, you have to serve yourself and I have kids – taking them through a cafeteria style place is not easy.  My point is that for the same amount of money I could go to another place that serves better food, and THEY will serve me!

I went ahead and updated my review and was honest in my review and it can be taken either way.  Part of me felt I needed to take the other review down because of this businesses owners great reputation monitoring (which I did) but the other part of me wanted to continue to be honest so I wrote another honest review, and it wasn’t all that great.  I did offer suggestions to what I feel would remedy the problem and we will see what happens?

My question to you is have you ever found yourself in similar situations and what did you do?  Do you feel I did the right thing?  I appreciate in advance any feedback I get!

SMX West Session Notes: Search & Reputation Management

Search & Reputation Management – What do people find when they search for you by name? Is it negative? If so, what do you do? What can you do? Depending on the situation, there are a range of tactics that may help. This session explores the issue.

Moderator: Barry Smyth, Director, Search Strategies


Chris Bennett, President, 97th Floor
Leslie Carruthers, CEO and President, The Search Guru
Noah Elkin, Managing Partner, Steak
Bill Hartzer, Search Engine Marketing Manager, Vizion Interactive


Chris Bennett, 97th Floor SMX West 2009
Chris Bennett, 97th Floor SMX West 2009

Chris Bennett, President, 97th Floor

Topic: How to Put Fires Out ASAP

You need to put fires out ASAP and the best way to respond is to get something out there on the web immediately.  Something such as: We are looking into this and working to resolve these issues in an appropriate manner.”  Chris states that you need to be transparent and recommended an excellent article called “The Transparent CEO.”

Recommendation is: monitor your reputation on a daily basis and start working to fix any problems ASAP.  Do all you can to get positive info out regarding the situation at the earliest potential time.

Understand Your Foes:

  1. Why do they rank?
  2. # of inbound links?
  3. Quality of links?
  4. # of internal links?
  5. How recent is it getting cached?
  6. Title tag and on page factors?

Once you have this information you can then go to work to rebuild your reputation from a search level, because now you know the formula you are working against.

What not to do:

  1. Don’t use the same links for all social profiles.
  2. Make sure your content is rich and there is a lot of it.
  3. Get the fluff out of your social profiles.
  4. Don’t go out paying for false reviews.
  5. Get the Buzz flowing like crazy.

Bonus Info:

  1. Use interviews as a way to get stuff out there about your company and then link to it.
  2. Social Media Poaching.
    1. Grab as many urls as you can from social profiles.
  3. Build social power accounts.

END Chris Bennett

Noah Elkin, Managing Partner, Steak

Noah Elkin Speaking at SMX
Noah Elkin Speaking at SMX

Topic: 7 Rules for Reputation Management

There are number of strategies to apply to when considering reputation management.  Of the which, Noah summarized these in 7 easy to follow steps:

  1. Be Proactive.
  2. Be Relevant.
  3. Be Tactical.
  4. Be Authentic and Honest.
  5. Be Accountable and Humble.
  6. Be Engaging.
  7. Be Responsible.

Seeing these steps seems pretty basic, but the reality is there is a lot of work that takes place accounting for each of these steps.

The 6 Steps Of Good Online Customer Service

Dave posting yesterday about how bad customer service can effect your online reputation got me thinking today. It made me want to share some tips how we (Dream Systems Media) practice good customer service with our own businesses, and get amazing testimonials sent to us.

IMO – The first rule of customer service is to be a good listener. If you are not able to sit and listen to your customer without getting defensive thinking you know everything then you will never do well at the customer service game. Anytime issues arrive we make sure and do everything we can to build a relationship of trust, even if they are start raving mad at something that has happened.

The last thing you want to do (even if you can’t help them) is to insult the customer so badly by not listening to them, that all they can think about doing is going and letting everyone they know how awful they think you are. Where do they go and do this you ask? They go and let people know on blogs, review sites and forums, and believe me – all those will start ranking for your business name, and you will find yourself with a bad online reputation management problem! If you are sincere, and take the time to listen, and let them know that it is in your best interest to find a solution to the problem – that is all they are really looking for. Once you find that common ground, and have the trust built with them, it makes dealing with the situation much easier. They might not like the solution you provide, but they are not going to let everyone know how horrible you were (because you were not).

If you have to remind people about a return policy they obviously did not read, its much better to be on their good side, then rub it in their face. I have had people who have been so mad, I used this method to calm them down, they ended up keeping the product, and then sent me an email a month later telling me how sorry they were for calling in mad, and how much they love the product now. It all comes to pass by building that relationship with every customer you get. This is not going to happen every time, but it is going to help your return rate be much lower, and your customer service rating go through the roof!

Where is my money?

Think about when you order something online, and you don’t get an email after you hit the “purchase” button confirming it. You then look on the website and either don’t find a phone number, or call one thats listed – only to get no one. You are sitting there thinking your money is lost, and you may have just become another statistic of someone being scammed online. You send in emails, and when no one gets back to you and you panic. Your next step is to contact your credit card company and do a charge back. This is the process that happens when bad customer service is offered.

The 6 Steps of Online Customer Service

If you don’t want this kind of a customer service nightmare to happen to your business, then you need to take a look at these 6 simple customer service steps:

  1. Auto-Responders – using auto-responders to notify customers as soon as they purchase will help them not worry about the order they just placed. Also make sure you have other emails set up and ready to send out as soon as anything changes on their order (status, shipping, back orders etc) . In other words – you need to be holding their hands through the entire process of buying from you.
  2. Tracking Numbers – Provide tracking numbers to the customer as soon as you have them yourself so they know exactly when to expect their packages and not keep emailing you – bugging you. Let them keep pinging the UPS or FedEx website checking the status if they are THAT impatient. Better then bugging you, and losing confidence when you don’t respond right?
  3. Toll Free Number – Have a 24 Hour Toll Free Number listed on your site on all pages. Make people confident that they can get a hold of you no matter what time it is. If they are considering making the purchase at 3 am in their underwear, they might see the phone number that says you can call 24/7 – it will make it a much easier choice for them to purchase. They know that they can at any time if a problem arises.
  4. 3 Forms of Contact – you should have several forms of contact on your site to promote those warm fuzzy feelings of potential customers. I would suggest – phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses at the very least. Now-a-days you have social networks where people can stay connected like Twitter, Facebook and what not. You could always use those mediums as forms of contact.
  5. Follow Up – After everything has been shipped, and the customer receives order, you want to follow up with an email, or phone call making sure that everything was satisfactory throughout the whole process. Just doing this is impressive enough, and people are going to be more then willing to give you a testimonial based on this alone. I can’t tell you how many times we get emails from customers sharing testimonials because we followed up with them and made sure everything was ok.
  6. Listen – Again, I feel this is the most important step in the whole process – If there are issues then you need to hear the customer out, and see their side of it, and what they want. If you build a relationship of trust with them, it will be much easier to tell them bad news (if you have to). Good customer service, and someone willing to listen will make all the difference in the world and save many sales for you.

If you follow these 6 steps I promise you that you will have less problems, and have many more testimonials sent into you. Anytime you can get customers saying good things about you, the better it is for you. If people ever ask you where they can submit a testimonial, you can let them know to either email you, or submit it to review sites like the following: Thanks to my friend Newspapergrl for sharing these online review sites with us all – These are the places that Google Local pulls their reviews from.

You should also encourage your clients (if they are pleased enough with you, they will be willing) to leave reviews on sites like Google Local, Yahoo Local and all of the other major search engines local results that allow reviews. It really is an easy thing to do – show them your listing, and then click on the link where the reviews are at, and it will ask you to write a review. It really is that simple, and it will do more for you then you probably realize at this point.

In Conclusion

So besides sharing the testimonials on your site, you should encourage users to leave reviews about your business on review sites. This is a great method of link building too. Review sites rank well with the search engines, and provide trusted links that will help your site rank much easier. All this from good customer service? Seems worth it to me! Thoughts?

Utah Jiffy Lube owner, concerned about reputation management, calls me back

For those of you who read yesterday’s blog post, you know that I have had a major bone to pick with the Highland Utah Jiffy Lube. If you are interested in following the saga here is a short update. Today I received 2 voice mails and 2 emails from different high level Jiffy Lubers. (I have to admit, these people have both written and spoken to me as if they know a few things about customer service and I appreciate that – I told you customer service counts!)

In a nutshell, Jiffy Lube confirmed that the service center had a camera, which did show that their employee shut my door thereby locking my keys in the car! Now you know I did not just make this whole thing up! To try and “make it up to me” the company has offered to pay for my oil change, and to provide gift certificates for dinner and a night out with my wife. Although, I by no means consider this as equal “payment” for the 6 hours I wasted and the enormous headache this whole experience cause me, my wife, and my 2 police officer friends, it was partially appropriate as Tuesday’s fiasco caused my wife and I to miss half of a Christmas party that my wife was VERY excited to attend. Now I can hopefully partially make that missed event up to her by taking her out sometime soon. The store owner was a nice guy and apologized profusely for the conduct of his store manager.

So, in fairness, I wanted you guys to know that at least some of the people connected with the Utah Jiffy Lube’s seemed to be very concerned about the service their customers receive. I hope each of you have an opportunity to interact with one of these guys, if you decide to get your next oil change at Jiffy Lube in Highland.

Case Study

I have been involved in countless campaigns to counteract negative press online. But, believe it or not, this was the first time I personally had ever written anything negative. (I am typically a pretty cool-headed guy and I think it takes a lot to get under my skin. In addition, I do not think it is fair for people to unfairly leverage situations to work in their favor, therefore I do not post negative things about every company I feel has done me wrong. However, b/c of the sheer extent of the disservice I was provided here I made an exception to that rule. On top of that, I specifically told “Mike” what I did for a living and that I planned on writing this post if they did not pay for a locksmith to come open the door. So fair warning was given.).

All that said, I was slightly surprised by how quickly this blog post turned into a reputation management concern for Jiffy Lube. Within 5 minutes the blog post was in the top 5 positions in Google for either Highland Utah Jiffy Lube or Utah Jiffy Lube. By the next morning the blog post ranked number 1 for Highland Utah Jiffy Lube. When I spoke with the Highland owner he informed me that my blog post had been read by people at the corporate offices in Texas!

It is eye opening the way the Internet evens the playing field and allows one person to have a voice, even without spending a dollar. I think this serves as good data for companies trying to decide whether it is worth investing money into online reputation management. Answer = Absolutely.

Highland Utah Jiffy Lube will want reputation management

Occasionally I experience something in the business world either so good or so bad that I cannot help but blog about it. My goal (beyond ranting) is to remind the business owners who read this blog about the priceless value of real customer service, as well as providing a taste of the business-crippling effects that spawn from bad customer service.

The Good

A few weeks ago, Andrew and I were introduced to a new restaurant by a client. This Utah Thai Food Restaurant was a refreshing experience in every way: 1) The food was outstanding, 2) The service was TOP NOTCH (the ladies we interacted with were the definition of customer service), and 3) The owner gave us complimentary homemade coconut ice cream just because we had never had any before.

I left craving her food and accompanying service for weeks. I have since been back more than once and told many friends and family members about the company. All of this message spreading happened for the price of 2 coconut ice cream scoops. Every business owner worth his/her salt knows that good experiences beget referrals. That is probably the simplest rule in business, but unfortunately is not followed like it should be.

The Bad

Yesterday, I had a horrible experience with the Highland Utah Jiffy Lube. My wife was in a small car accident yesterday and so I took the car out to have it checked out, serviced, etc. I decided I should have the oil changed while I was out taking care of bizness. So I stopped at the Jiffy Lube and was greeted by “KID” (to protect the un-intending I will just call him KID) who proceeded to instruct me to leave the keys in the car and take a seat in the waiting room. So I left the car, with the door open, and the keys on the front seat. A few minutes later “KID” comes into the waiting room and asks me if I locked my keys in the car. Excuse me? No KID, I sure as H did not lock my keys in the car, in fact I left them on the front sear with the door wide open like you asked me to.

I let the Jiffy Lube crew try to break into my car for an hour with a clothes hanger. Unfortunately, the pit crew is better at changing oil than jacking cars. I had now been at the “service” (yes, that is a pun) center for an hour and a half. So, I kindly walked in and asked KID if I can talk with his manager and request that they hire a locksmith to come pop open my door so I can go home to my family. KID breaks out in a sweat, grabs the phone, and goes to another room. He comes back with the phone and says “Mike wants to talk to you.” (I am going to call this guy Mike b/c he was a 1st class jerk). Mike greets me by saying, “I understand you locked your keys in the car and would like us to pay for a locksmith… we are not going to do that b/c it was your fault.” WTF. I left a door open. KID closed a door. But, this is my fault? Me and Mike “conversate” for 30 minutes or so. In the end, there is no offer for a locksmith. Guess what? It is now 6:00 pm and the store is about to close. My cell phone has died and my wife is not around to come pick me up. So, I WALKED home on the Highland Highway (which is a narrow road at the mouth of an imposing canyon) in the snow and ice. It was very dark, and VERY cold.

This morning I wake up and call the Fleet Manager for this region. I leave 2 voice mails describing my experience and requesting that he please call me back to help make the situation right. It has been 8 hours and I have not received a return phone call. I finally convinced a friend, who is also a police officer, to come unlock my car – she is a sweetheart and came to the rescue. (Yes, I REFUSED to pay for a locksmith as a matter of principal).

Guess what? Highland Utah Jiffy Lube will absolutely lose business as a result of this “Service” Center’s service. I will never go there again. I will not let anyone I care about go there. And, I have written the first of many negative reviews to come about their “Service” center. Not to mention the business they lost as my car took up one of their three service bays for what amounted to one full business day. That is the type of decision making and service that over time will cripple a business.

Lesson To Be Learned

With all of our attention and focus on ways to more effectively advertise and manage our company’s reputations; please do not forget that one of the easiest ways to grow your business and prevent negative press is to provide great service. To the Jiffy Lube’s of the world, if you cannot provide great service at least provide fair service.