A few weeks ago, I blogged about attending a certain Barre studio class on Cleveland’s east side with a group of my friends. I stated my opinion in an honest manner, like I always do. To reiterate, I enjoyed switching up my workout routine and said I might even make a sporadic trip back. But, I was candid and said the class cost is out of my ‘working out price range.’ $25 for a one-hour workout IN MY OPINION, is slightly insane (especially in Cleveland).
Come Friday, the company found my blog post and re-posted it on their Facebook and Twitter account saying they are upset west siders feel the prices are too expensive. Then all social media Hell broke loose. From emails to direct messages to text messages, friends and strangers showed their support for me voicing my opinion and firmly sticking to my guns. And frankly, most people were amazed a company would commit social media suicide in such a dramatic manner.
As I crafted my responses on Friday, I maintained my professionalism as best as I could, but I have to admit, they did make me angry. And I wasn’t mad because they were attacking me (ok, maybe a little). I was mad because this brand new company, with potential to be THE barre studio in northeast Ohio was breaking every social media no-no known to man.
Confronting not only me, but handfuls of other potential paying customers online? Check.
Blocking those same potential customers on Twitter? Check.
Looking as if they can’t stand a little criticism? Check.
Taking what they viewed as a negative review and turning it into an opportunity to gain some customers? No, they didn’t do this (but they should have).
Deleting their negative and aggressive Facebook and Twitter impulse posts? Check.
The list could go on. As the weekend went by, I didn’t think much about the online war of words that took place on Friday. However, I decided I wouldn’t post the defensive and inexcusable tweets that were sent on behalf of the studio because I didn’t want to mess with someone’s livelihood: their business. I changed my mind come Monday:
This is simply a taste of the bickering and whining I was dealing with. Instead of engaging them in this immature battle, I politely gave them some advice that I bet they’re now regretting they didn’t follow:
As Monday rolled around, you would assume this situation would have been forgotten about, as it should have been. Things got much more interesting when this comment wound up on my blog:
I’m no attorney (but I have friends who are!) and I know this not only is this a defamatory statement but it’s clearly a threat. Will I remove any of my tweets or my blog post? HELL NO. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and the funniest part? I didn’t bash this studio – it was a classy joint, I just wonder if they will survive this PR nightmare.
Of course I didn’t ‘steal’ this class. I was provided a code that many other women used throughout the studio’s opening week. I have the receipt to prove it – glad their email reminded me to save one for my records! If they didn’t want this code floating around on the internet, they shouldn’t have put it on the internet, should have made it a unique code, should have never accepted it in the first place online or when we checked in at the front desk.
By noon on Monday I had already been contacted by various media outlets. This headline is not only amazing, but the story hits the nail on the head: Ballet Gym Goes All Black Swan On Blogger, Threatens To Call Police After Innocuous Comment (via consumerist.com).
What’s the lesson learned here? Well, there are many in my opinion but it’s abundantly clear that the internet will always win – you can’t simply delete something and think your problem has magically gone away. The power of social media is enormous. This situation should have been a simple lesson for people who are clearly not equipped with an online strategy or social media crisis plan.
Instead, it’s become bigger than this isolated incident. Sadly for Barre Cleveland, they have lost dozens (if not more) of potential customers because of their trigger finger online and by stoking a dying fire days later with an accusatory blog comment. The damage is done – just look at what is being said on Twitter.
Hey, Barre: Thanks for all the blog traffic.