9 Ways Subway Blew a Direct Response to Social Comment

If you buy a 12 inch sub, are you likely to measure it if it seems a little short? We all don’t appreciate being shorted, but where is the line drawn when we are called to action? And to what degree will your direct response to a social comment go?


Subway restaurants received some inputs on these questions, though they did not explicitly ask the questions.


Before we continue, let me ask you a question. 

What works best for your negative ,viral social media response design in your business? We would love to hear what it was. Would you do us a favor and post it in the comments section below? Be the one who starts a conversation.


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Their customers are applying their measuring tapes after an Internet posting that claimed a short-shrifting of the worldwide chain’s famous footlong sub.


The controversy began Tuesday in Australia, when a customer bought a footlong sub and then pulled out a tape measure and found the sub measured only 11 inches long. His action was to take his dissatisfaction to Facebook, where he posted a photo of his sub alongside the tape measure on the company’s page with the caption, “subway pls respond.”  Screen grabs taken of his image and reposted online show the photo quickly received more than 131,000 likes and thousands of comments.


Related post: Some Great Story and Storytelling Examples to Study


So what should have Subway done for an early response to this viral social media by its customers?


Here is what we would recommend to Subway executives:


It just is logical that you occasionally deal with negative customers, no matter how good you are. How well you deal with these customers will determine whether you are dealing with a crisis or a non-issue.


 Response time in these situations is critical also.


So it is wise to have a response plan defining how you would respond before you receive any such comments. Note that part of the response plan requires action prior to receiving negative comments from customers.


Here is the response plan we recommend:


listen and accept
Can you listen and accept?

Listen and accept

But don’t censor. Listen carefully and try to understand your customers’ viewpoints.


Viral social media … respond directly 

 Early response time really matters. Time is critical and you have very little.


Direct response … be transparent

Explain without offering excuses. Remain calm under fire at all costs.


Fix the problem

If there is one. Acknowledge the issue and communicate your solution.


create opportunity
Create opportunity.


Direct response media … create opportunity

Can you turn the problem into an opportunity.  Don’t neglect spending time finding the opportunity from your adversity … it often will not jump out at you.


Funnel comments/concerns

Keep your staff informed and engaged. Keep everyone in the loop and up to speed.


Build a community

A communityof passionate defenders. Let them defend you with their views.


Humanize your brand

Create a brand personality through laughter and having fun in the workplace. Always wear your enthusiasm and your passion.

Related post: 16 Ideas to Employ Marketing Tips for Storytelling and Stories


Know when to walk away

Be prepared to walk away if it is a lose-lose situation and you see you are not making headway. When is the issue over? Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes not … but monitor closely for a while.


Remember … your customers are not always right, but they always have the right to choose. And they do, they will tell their friends about their experiences and their choices.




Please share one of your experiences with negative on-line customers with this community.


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Call Mike at 607-725-8240.


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Are you devoting enough energy innovating your social media strategy?


Do you have a lesson about making your social media better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?


Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  


Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.


More reading on social media marketing and advertising from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:

20 Recommendations on How to Promote Your Blog

The Zen of Winning the Battle of the Content Plan

17 Actionable Ways to Create Small Business Social Commerce


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9 Ways Subway Blew a Direct Response to Social Comment