Social Media's Power is No Joke! Just Ask Applebee's!
Underestimate the power of social media's viral virility? Who me? Never. In the past year, non profits have gained momentum, posting online petitions which I and thousands have signed, Facebooked, Tweeted, Linked-In, Care2ed, etc., to friends and followers. Issues that capture social media's imagination express values that are dear to "the little people," and have strong Golden Rule underpinnings. For better or worse social media has been used to mobilize support to stop pink slime "beef trimmings" from being added to school lunch hamburger meat. It has gotten Seventeen Magazine to pledge not to use emotionally destructive photoshopped "perfect" images of teen models. These are just two examples; there are countless others. Now it may get a waitress her job back.
Depending upon which side you're on, virality either raises its beautiful head to smile at the aggrieved party, or rears its ugly maw to devour unjust and pernicious actions. For Pastor Alois Bell and Applebee's, social media's public face snarled and roiled like a wrath-filled Medusa. Clearly, the company in paralytic shock haplessly snared itself in events that unraveled into a frenzy. It simply did not understand how social media works. With every attempt it tried to leash the dogs, it crazed them all the more until they became a yapping, howling hungry mob, not looking for chicken wings but ranging to right a grievous wrong.
How does Applebee's end up mauling its own positive image? The scenario is a weird one, that could only happen online. It started when Chelsea Welch who worked at a St. Louis Applebee's thought that an insulting yet funny receipt her friend got after waiting on a table of 8 should be shared online to a venue that is sharp, edgy and can be deliciously wicked. Welch photographed the receipt the patron, Pastor Alois Bell (World Deliverance Ministries Church in Granite, Ill) had written on. The Pastor had felt that the 18% tip to recognize the service for the 8 party table was perhaps unfitting. She had crossed out the 18% number and replaced it with a 0. Then the pastor accompanied the 0 with a comment, a rather snarky one with religious overtones, "I give God 10%. Why do you get 18%?"(She has since apologized for her behavior and has appeared publicly to discuss the events.)Continued on the next page