Saturday, June 8, 2013

Portage, Michigan Salon Learns Power of Social Media

I've been away, did you miss me? I had to have quadruple bypass open heart surgery. Totally unexpected! But I'm back now, ready to give you some information you can use to do Photography for Income.

M-Spa Salon & Day Spa got a harsh lesson in how quickly social media can cripple a business in May. It seems that on May 25th, the spa's owner, Michelle Mott, confronted a customer and her son (Ashley Bays) and her 2 1/2 year old son who is autistic. Seems that the boy was crying and agitated while getting a haircut.

The very next day, a customer who had witnessed the witless owner's dressing down of the customer, detailed the entire sordid affair on Facebook, calling Mott's behavior "horrific and distasteful." By the time Ms. Mott returned to her salon after the holiday weekend, the post had been shared on Facebook...

...tens of thousands of times!

To make matters worse, someone started a Boycott M-Spa page on Facebook as well. And it became INTERNATIONAL NEWS in less than 48 hours. People in Australia were commenting! And the comments were not very nice. By the end of the week, Mott and her mouthpiece George Perrett were circling the wagons, frantically trying to contain the damage to Mott's reputation, crying unfair.

Mr. Perrett said it was cyberbullying and very well might cause the closure of a local business that had been a terrific business partner in the community for 15 years. Mott herself issued a statement through her lawyer on the first day she was open for business after the incident. But by that time, a full blown negative PR campaign was in motion.

On the following Thursday, Mott issued yet another statement through her attorney in which she apologized to Ms. Bays and her family. She added, "Social media has been used to create an impression of me and this event in ways which do not fairly reflect who I am and which seek to silence differing viewpoints about what occurred."

Hmmmm, differing viewpoints? If you were rude and abusive to a customer, what different viewpoint can there be? Look, to be fair, I have never met Ms.Mott. She might be a perfectly delightful woman who had a bad day, who opened her mouth without putting her brain in gear. Then again, she might be a nasty bitch, I don't know. She obviously has a successful business that has been operating for a long time, so they must be doing something right. But it appears that she may have just handled the situation less than tactfully.

Some of you may be thinking, "Hey, I'm a photographer; I don't own a beauty salon, what the hell does this have to do with me, Steve?

Quite a bit actually.

Number one, you need to recognize how fast a negative shit storm can form because you made a customer angry, or you insulted a customer, or just because there was a plain old misunderstanding.

Number two, you need to respond with lightening speed to any form of social media criticism.

Number three, you need to constantly build your brand on social media by constantly asking people to LIKE your business.

Number four, you must realize that you are CONSTANTLY on display when you own a business. Anything you do is under a microscope. So you might get all warm and fuzzy by going to a Tea Party Rally and calling President Obama a big monkey. Just remember that if the guy in charge of the zoning commission was in charge of the local Obama campaign, you may run into some delays. I'm just sayin'...

Number five, it is imperative that you become recognized for good deeds in your community. Work on fundraising events, benefit walks and/or runs, or give one day's gross receipts to a member of the community who is battling a serious illness. Join a service club such as Lions or Kiwanis. Be visible, but don't be a media whore: don't send press releases that you worked on Special Olympics--it's a little unseemly.

And finally, number six, be aware that social media can be used as a threat against you by a customer who wants to get what they want without paying. It will not happen often, but it can happen. And don't forget it can be used as a weapon against you by an unscrupulous competitor.

This is not your father's Photography for Income. If you want more INCOME than OUTGO, you need to be vigilant regarding your reputation. You can sign up for Google Alerts and they let you know when ever your name or your business name is mentioned on the web.

Til next time!

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