When Social Media Attacks

I was asked recently considering several social media storms that have taken place, what are some best practices to put in place if it were to happen to you. Let’s look at these examples from the Monday Morning Quarterback chair:

Cracker Barrel

After a local Cracker Barrel store in Indiana fired an 11-year employee, her husband took to Facebook to ask why. Several hashtags appeared as the internet took up this cause and Cracker Barrels social media was torn to shreds.

As with all Human Resource issues, there’s not much Cracker Barrel can say. There is absolutely no win with this.

Should they have addressed it? Yes, I think they should have, but not directly. This was an opportunity to say a lot without addressing the main issue.

  • Highlight long term employees and why they are there.
  • Highlight employee programs that you offer as incentives.
  • Highlight your company’s community activities and all the good you do.

People are going to hate, but the smart ones are going to read between the lines. No one who loves and takes care of their employees is going to fire an 11-year employee without cause, even in an at-will state.

Your only win is protecting the ability to hire future employees while also protecting your stockholders’ dividends.

United Airlines

After a man was filmed being dragged off a flight by security services so an employee could be flown, social media went rightfully crazy.

Adding fuel to the flame was when their CEO apologized for “having to re-accommodate…customers” versus apologizing immediately for what was obviously, a terrible incident. Later a full apology was sent, but too late.

The lesson here is recognizing immediately that they made a terrible mistake and own it. Even if the guys that drug him out weren’t employees, they were working on United’s behalf.

  • Make it right.
  • Tell everyone what you are doing quickly and publically as possible.

Comments and Banning

I’m a little tougher on commenting and banning than most on Facebook, especially for non-profits or religious uses.

My thoughts are this: You’ve built the community. You want to be social but there have to be reasonable expectations for behavior. This is even more evident when it comes to attacking core values.

First offense, I’ll normally hide the post. Second offense, ban them from the page. 


There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to social media. The key is being prepared, enacting policies and talking out loud about how you will handle scenarios. When stuff happens – call on experts you trust to help. An outside opinion can help to bring clarity in a tough situation.