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Whoever runs the Facebook page for Amy’s Baking Company, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, is currently having an awe-inspiring, full-scale meltdown. Publicly. On Facebook. It’s kind of amazing.

Let me back up. Amy’s Baking Company received some notoriety for appearing on an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, the Gordon Ramsay reality show where the famous chef visits struggling restaurants and whips them into shape. The owner of the establishment, Amy Bouzaglo, has an ugly past when it comes to social media and online reviews. The Phoenix New Times reported before the Kitchen Nightmares taping that Bouzaglo responded to a negative one-star Yelp review by berating the customer who left it, calling her “ugly, a “loser,” and a “moron,” among other things. When a food website picked up the story, Bouzaglo argued with readers and posted even more angry comments.

Needless to say, the Kitchen Nightmares taping did not go well. Gordon Ramsay himself threw his hands up and waved the white flag of surrender, tired of having to deal with owners who have astronomical staff turnover and treat their customers like crap. Bouzaglo seems to hate interacting with human beings and is so vitriolic and unfriendly, you’ve got to scratch your head and wonder why the hell she’s even in the restaurant business.

After the episode aired, Amy’s Baking Company’s Yelp rating took a nosedive as viewers and customers left negative reviews for the establishment. Some folks turned to the establishment’s Facebook page to rant about how rude Bouzaglo is, and she responded by going batpoop crazy.

First of all, I have to point out Ms. Bouzaglo didn’t seem to have a clue how to use social media properly. She shared the aforementioned Phoenix New Times article about Amy’s Baking Company five times in nine minutes:

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Thus, a social media unsavvy business owner who also seems to have a short temper and doesn’t take criticism well is not a good combination. Bouzaglo busted out the big guns when allegations that Amy’s Baking Company buys pre-made baked goods and passes them off as their own. And by “big guns,” I mean “capslocked shouting” (warning, language):

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You get the idea. Now, you could argue that this is a great way to grow a business’s Facebook page since Bouzaglo’s comments have attracted over 30,000 fans and hundreds of likes and shares. But I personally would prefer to have a positive fan base vs. the “rubberneck at a car crash” type of popularity, and I’m sure most other small businesses would agree.

As of now, the above Facebook updates have been removed and a new update has been posted stating the following:

“Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things. Thank You Amy &Samy”

I’m not entirely convinced given how poorly the business’s page was being managed prior to the meltdown — even if the page were hacked, previous status updates and shares indicate the couple doesn’t understand how to use Facebook properly. Yes, it’s important to secure your business name on as many social media sites as possible so you can exert more control over your brand and better influence your search results. However, if you don’t have a solid grasp of each particular platform, I think it’s best to just set up basic information and leave the page dormant until you can either educate yourself on how to use the site or you can bring someone in who knows what they’re doing.

The Bouzaglos, in addition to running their restaurant poorly and treating staff and customers disrespectfully, clearly don’t know how to use Facebook to positively aid their business. They used the platform when they were emotionally vulnerable and ended up airing their dirty laundry in public, which only caused more people to hop on the ridicule bandwagon and pull up a seat to watch the train wreck get worse.

If you’re thinking of setting up a Facebook page for your business, you absolutely need to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Know what you’re doing. Small businesses struggle with marketing since they’re often juggling multiple balls at once. They run the business, handle accounting and paperwork, manage marketing efforts, and have to set up and maintain various social media accounts. Many entrepreneurs don’t know how to do it all and have to learn as they go. Familiarize yourself with the major social media accounts and figure out where it makes sense to have a presence. Learn how each website is different and core features/functionality so you’re familiar with the platform.
  • Put your emotions aside. Never update your pages when you’re angry, depressed, or emotional enough that your message will be negatively affected. You need to learn to either separate your personal feelings from your brand’s updates or wait and stay quiet until you’re comfortable enough to publish something. It’s inevitable for you to come across a negative review or a customer complaint on your social media pages. No matter how angry or frustrated you may be, you need to stay professional and level-headed when making public statements or you’ll come across as being erratic, emotional, and immature.
  • Update only when it makes sense. When in doubt, stay quiet. Don’t feel as if you need to be constantly updating your profiles just for the sake of pushing out content. If you’ve got nothing to say, don’t say anything! Your fans would rather see important or interesting stuff from you sporadically than a barrage of random information that’s a mix of mundane and relevant.
  • Don’t fall back on the “I got hacked” excuse. It’s a common knee-jerk reaction to lamely say your pages got hacked in hopes of sweeping the whole ugly mess under the rug. But people aren’t buying that excuse nowadays. Besides, saying you got hacked, whether false or real, tells people you have weak security measures, and that’s unprofessional, too. It’s an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” kind of scenario.
  • Know when you’re wrong. The best businesses are the ones who aren’t afraid to apologize when they know they’ve made a mistake. Entrepreneurs need to be stubborn and tenacious, yes, but they should also acknowledge their weaknesses. People like brands that have human qualities to them because it makes them more relatable. If you goofed, say so. A certain degree of transparency builds trust between your business and its customers.

The Amy’s Baking Company Facebook meltdown has been entertaining and has created quite a media buzz, but let’s not get caught up in the humor and absurdity of the ordeal and forget that there are some very valuable reputation management lessons to be gleaned from it. Take this instance as a very cautionary tale of how not to handle criticism and that social media requires a certain level of savviness, education, and common sense.