When I called it a "shit show," I had no idea just what kind of vague de merde was heading our way.
My jaw dropped yesterday when I noticed a local restaurant owner's name-calling tirade in response to a negative Yelp review, and when I wrote an impromptu blog post, readers responded in droves. They're still commenting, in fact.
Why would Amy Bouzaglo, owner of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, react to local food fanatic Joel LaTondress' one-star review by accusing him of working for the competition, and worse, using the public forum to call him a loser (among other things) because he didn't like her pizza?
If it seemed like she'd already gone off the deep end, the spectacle grew worse as Bouzaglo posted even more angry comments on Chow Bella. Then a link to court documents detailing Bouzaglo's criminal history turned up in one of the comments. Business owners, bloggers, social media and marketing people, and even the New Times music editor, Martin Cizmar, chimed in. Bouzaglo fed the flames with further venom. I've never seen so many people turn out to comment on a local fiasco.
But wait, there's more.
The digital equivalent of "going postal" has now been renamed to "going #crazyamy" -- courtesy of a Twitter hashtag someone created to document the ensuing social media dialogue.
Now there's mention of a #crazyamy t-shirt. And somebody just created a Twitter account called @CrazyAmyB.
Others have joined the conversation, including blogger Matthew Petro. According to a Twitter poll he created, more than half of respondents called Bouzaglo's handling of the incident "complete self-destruction" for her business. Blogger Tyler Hurst wondered, "Is Amy Bouzaglo Really Bat-Shit Crazy?"
Marketing and social media whiz Amanda Blum, a passionate foodie, referenced the drama in a new post on the Valley PR Blog, with useful customer service advice for any business owner who encounters unhappy customers, whether online or otherwise.
On Twitter, @AZVibe accused me of starting a "witch hunt" (I beg to differ), while food blogger Dominic Armato defended my right to report on the incident. He was later inspired to write a lengthy and thoughtful post about the role of online criticism on his blog, Skillet Doux.
And earlier this afternoon, LaTondress -- who elaborated the incident on Yelp Talk -- told me he was just contacted by 3TV.
Slow news day? Maybe so. Then again, how do you define news?
In any case, I still stand by my original thoughts about how business owners should deal with this kind of thing. But in light of all the endlessly entertaining fallout over the last day, I realize how much the bigger point here is one of community. If we were connected by word of mouth before, it's all been amplified and sped up thanks to social media. I certainly don't take it lightly, and I know restaurant owners shouldn't, either.
Like I said before, you never know who's paying attention.
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