Amy's Bakery Meltdown: Yelp Is Broken and Social Flashmobs Apparently Rule

Marc Meyer Digital and Social Strategist, DRMG

Posted on May 18th 2013

Amy's Bakery Meltdown: Yelp Is Broken and Social Flashmobs Apparently Rule

social media fails

I was just reading about the social media meltdown of Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale. If you’re not familiar with it, the restaurant was featured on Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares production that airs on the FOX Network. To give you a quick recap, things did not go well for the owners of the restaurant and for the second time since Ramsay has been doing the show, he walked away and essentially refused to help the restauranteurs out. This act in and of itself says a lot since in his own right, Ramsay can be pretty irascible. So for something to essentially send him packing, when we know what he’s capable of, it had to be pretty bad. Suffice it to say, the owners of this restaurant, took it to another level via these Kitchen Nightmare Youtube videos.

Watching the videos of the show you can see why. But, not surprisingly, I found out about the particular show via social media. Why? Because the buzz of the show, the videos and of what the owners did started to play itself out on Facebook.  When that happens, things can move quicker than an Arizona brushfire in July.  So quickly that the brush fires moved over from Facebook to Yelp and Reddit as well.

The gist or the fuel? Apparently the owners decided to respond to the trolls that were commenting about how bad they came off on the show.  This doesn’t absolve the restaurant owners but it does highlight the typical flash mob actions that occur on social networks.  Give them anything and they will run with it. More importantly however, it highlighted something else.

Here comes my point: 

Yelp may not be the go-to source for restaurant reviews.

Why? The ABC restaurant has 1131 reviews, some of which might be good, but most are not. 99.9% are snarky, mean, negative “reviews. ” The point?  How many of those 1131 reviewers actually ate at the restaurant and how many just piled on for some good old flash mob social media bashing? 99.9%

What can Yelp do about that? Doesn’t that mean you can go and bash any restaurant, anywhere? Seems like it to me.  Unless I’m missing something.

Help me to understand.


Marc Meyer

Digital and Social Strategist, DRMG

Currently Marc is working with Accenture to raise awareness and drive engagement of the Accenture Interactive practice. Prior to that Marc was the social media practice lead at Ernst and Young, one of the world’s leading professional services organizations. Before joining E &Y, Marc was the Digital and Social Media lead for 2 years at Digital Response Marketing Group, a social media and search marketing agency in Naples, Florida. Previously, Marc had been consulting for the Direct Response Marketing company, Emerson Direct, for almost 7 years. At various times he had served as their Director of Internet Marketing and their Director of Social Media. In both roles, Marc was able to leverage his experience in marketing, sales and technology to a degree in which companies actually did not “glaze over” and just nod their heads when he suggested a new approach to creating digital content, a different social media strategy or a simple SEO tactic

See Full Profile >


Posted on May 18th 2013 at 11:59AM

The "Handy Venn Diagram" is brilliant. Will it be available in wallet-size? 

I like my crust kinda' chewy.

- @SocialMktgFella

Posted on May 23rd 2013 at 11:13AM

I've heard mixed things about the Yelp review process.  Supposedly they screen posted reviews to avoid situations like this, but the whole fiasco for ABC started three years ago when they only had one negative review from an actual customer.  That was the first one they chose to write back to as they mentoned in the KN episode.  Their response to the review was pretty damning and it's not helping their claim that the FB page and website were hacked simultaneously.

Plus, from what I saw of the ABC Facebook page before the photos were removed, it looked less like "hacking" and more like the work of a page admin who does not understand how to adjust their permissions and settings.

Warren Whitlock
Posted on May 23rd 2013 at 10:47PM

It may look like trolls and fights are going to ruin Yelp, but I think that a sideshow at best. I wouldn't invite such comments onto my bakery site, but I would shut down over it either.

When choosing a place to buy my cupcakes, the number of reviews is certainly a factor. I'm drawn to the the bigger number, but suspect if it's way out of line. So, good and bad.

But once I'm reading the reviews.. I'm going to stick around if they are funny, ignore them if they are vittoral, and stick around longer on that item.

All of this plays into my choice of cupcakes.. but not near as much as finding a friend who did a review, my level of cupcake craving, ads for cookies at another place, what my family wants, the interupting call from Aunt Suzy about Uncle Phils 80th birthday and the neighbor's barking dog.

If Yelp has what my friends like, well written reviews, photos of the location and menu.. making a bakery decision is a tiny part of my life made more enjoyable by the process.

DISCLAIMER: I'm a long time Yelp user.. on all my devices and frequently not consulted for months at a time. :)

Seshu Madabushi
Posted on May 24th 2013 at 10:25AM

I have come across multiple restaurant owners who either hate Yelp or love Yelp, again given that it more or less not completely moderated we can expect some kind of spam as well. On top of that have come across articles on Forbes etc which talk about strong arm tactics of Yelp.

Here the question is how SMB owners should handle customer communications. Restaurant owners are very passionate people as it takes a lot of hard work and 365 days of commitment to run a restaurant. Amy's rant can be taken as a snapping point where the owners just could not take any more and as a marketing person who works with lot of restaurants I can understand her situation. I am not saying that what she has done is right and there are multiple ways how SMB owners should handle their customer communications as I indicated in my blog post