As I See It

How NOT to do social media

How NOT to do social media engagement
When it comes to dealing with a negative customer or helping a customer with a bad experience on social media, the key is to be quick and efficient. If someone has come on to your Facebook page to complain or to Twitter to ask a question, it is often likely that a swift, honest response will go a long way to keeping them happy (ish).
This is something, which Cleethorpes Beachcomber Holiday Park and Spotify recently got wrong. I’m going to look at both incidents and see what went wrong as well as offering my own solution.

Beating the drum(mer) at Cleethorpes

A few weeks back, Keith O’Neill – a drummer with 90s Britpop group Cast – was badly beaten by contracted security staff at Cleethorpes Beachcomber Holiday Park. Not just a scrape either but a full on beating which left him with two black eyes. It also left Cleethorpes Beachcomber with a lot of angry Cast fans to contend with. Mr. O’Neill showed off his injuries to the band’s large fan base via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Of course the post soon went viral as fans and commentators alike heaped scorn on the holiday park. Facebook users took to the Beachcombers’ company page to leave 1* reviews (including myself), warning others to avoid events at the park. This greatly reduced the page’s average visitor rating. Others @mentioned the park on Twitter, demanding to know what was being done.

As with anything on social, it only took a couple of hours from the point of Mr. O’Neill’s picture being published to the widespread pickup of the image by fans and websites. After a few hours, the company eventually issued a standard response to everyone via Twitter and Facebook:

Following the regrettable incident at the Beachcomber on Saturday Night following a very successful gig, an incident involving Keith O’Neill of Cast took place.

We are urgently carrying out a full investigation in what happened. We would like to stress that this process will take some time to complete properly, in the meantime our contracted Security Firm have been suspended until further notice.

On the plus side, the company took action against the offenders and honestly addressed the issue. On the negative, the response was slow and unlikely to do much to repair the damage caused to their reputation. Oddly, the Beachcombers Facebook page was temporarily unavailable to me following their response to my 1* review. This leads me to think that either they blocked me or took down their page until the storm had died down. In my opinion, both actions are totally wrong! I can now access the page again and my review remains. I will be taking it down shortly as, in fairness, the company has now appointed a new security firm.
Screenshot BC
What would I have done differently? Assuming they don’t have a dedicated social media person monitoring their channels, I would have just been WAY quicker in flagging the momentum building and issuing some honest, human responses to the multiple tweets and posts being published. This would have at least put a fire blanket on the growing flames while the other necessary teams investigated the incident. It could have taken the sting out of the raw image of the drummer’s beaten face and given people assurance that the company was just as appalled as the fans. Action: Get a social media editor on staff.

Off-tune with Spotify

This one is slightly more personal to me and please, feel free to comment and tell me I’ve been a bit over the top with my reaction.
So the issue was that Spotify charged me twice. My old bank card was swallowed at an ATM and I hadn’t updated my details on Spotify so they emailed me with a ‘Payment Failed’ notice. I duly went on and updated my card details, only to discover that I had been charged twice for £14.99 on the Premium Family plan.
And where do people go now with customer service questions? Twitter. Spotify recognise this and have a dedciated Spotify Cares Twitter account. They invited me to expand on the issue, not via email but directly via Twitter DM. I love this! It was a quick response and didn’t require me to move off channel.
Unfortunately, the experience from this point onward went downhill. First, I was told I would simply get a free month to make up for the second payment. I was cool with that. But then had to confirm my D.O.B and last four digits on my bank card, which then led to them noting that I was on the family plan (even though I’d already stated it in my original message). This entitled me to a one month refund. In turn this apparently led to a hiccup, de-activating my account and requiring me to sign up to the service again and then re-inviting my family member to join too. I did at least get both payments refunded. However, by this point I was not happy and stated as much. I’ll be honest, as a marketer, I continued the conversation to see what their response would be from a professional learning point of view. I wasn’t impressed. The response was that my feedback was being passed to another department and that I should let them know how I got on with my re-registration. Now I fully understand I’m not best placed to be impartial here but how suck-ass is that? For a brand that is supposed to be about the modern, about being cool and especially needs to keep customers on side, I reckon they could have done so so much better.
What would I have done differently? If at all possible (and I really don’t see how not), I would have not only refunded me a month but also offered me at least one month free for the hassle of having to sign up again, given that it was entirely their fault. At least then, the effort has been made and my goodwill for the company would have been restored.
As it is, I am now subscribed to Apple Music.

Common People

What is the common denominator in both examples? Both times, the company has failed completely to be honest and understand the user’s needs in the social media age. Cleethorpes Beachcomber failed to grasp the desire for quick action, while Spotify didn’t get that simply having a dedicated Twitter page for customer service is not enough to deliver QUALITY customer engagement (and retainment).


When was the last time you had a bad experience with a brand on social media and thought “Hey, I KNOW how I could have done a better job there!”

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