Blogging Lessons from the Great Coffee Debacle

Those of you active in the blogosphere (or who read the daily rag for that matter) will no doubt have heard about the great coffee debacle that unfolded after a customer was refused espresso over ice in a Virginia coffee house, Murky Coffee, because its not their policey to do so.

There’s a few of lessons to be learned here by any company intending to use blogging to further their marketing activities.

Be on the ball – always monitor the Internet and blogosphere for mentions of your company. Google alerts is a great way to do this. That way if someone has something to say, you are in a position to respond in a timely matter (unlike Tim Hortons which displayed “head firmly stuck in the sand” behaviour until the news of waywardly employees hit traditional media funnels). By doing so you have the opportunity to respond and state your side of the story in the public forum showing attention to customers service and proving integrity.

Be Ready – In the web 2.0 world any company and anything is fair game for commentary both positive and negative. You have to expect that not everything thats going to be said about you or your organisation is going to be positive and you must be ready to stand up and fight. The coffee shop in question did a great job (up to a point) by stating their policy (i.e. we don’t serve espresso over ice) and by substantiating that (because it ruins the taste of the coffee).

Be respectful – alas neither the blogger nor the coffee shop were as respectful as they could have been, using profanity and threats to slag each other off in a public forum. Not good – especially for the coffee shop (I would think twice about going there – I like great coffee but don’t need the abuse) but then I may just try it out out of interest… Which leads me to:

Its Great Publicity – when story like this hits, it provides great publicity, drives awareness to new audiences and creates a huge spike in traffic to your site and to your business itself. Be ready for it and the ensuing downtown as the wave moves on to the next news of the minute. If you feel like you’re in the eye of the storm, don’t worry – it will soon pass.

Take Advantage – build on the new contacts made through comments, blog mentions and forum comments to develop more links to your site and thus create a long term, quanitifable benefit. By following up and establishing rapport with those who comment on your site or post a blog on the issue you will serve to increase traffic to your site.

I wonder what the next great debacle to play out on the Internet will be.

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