Applebee’s Social Media Nightmare: Technology 24/7 Isn’t Always a Good Thing

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This screenshot will forever memorialize a receipt posted by Applebee's prior to the firing of a waitress for posting a less-positive receipt. Image courtesy of 'If You Can't Afford to Tip.'

This screenshot will forever memorialize a receipt posted by Applebee’s prior to the firing of a waitress for posting a less-positive receipt. Image courtesy of ‘If You Can’t Afford to Tip.’

Cached Pages and Screenshots: What Are They?

Google keeps cached pages to help them analyze websites to find the best result for your query. The cached page contains all the same elements as the front-facing page, but it’s static instead of reactive. The website itself is live – and can change at a moment’s notice, but the cached page is like a recorded version of the site from when Google last accessed it. If you can access Google’s cached page (cached results are available in any Google search) then you can see what the page used to look like, before changes were made. Then what? Take a screenshot before the cached page is removed.

A screenshot, also known as a screen ‘grab’ is a method of preserving a visual record of something you can see on your computer. Screenshots are helpful during troubleshooting, since you can send a technician a picture of what you’re seeing. Screenshots of a Facebook update or other social media mistake, can sometimes be the only record of the event – as demonstrated in R.L. Stoller’s ‘Photo Essay’ of the Applebee’s event, containing more than twenty separate screenshots of comments and updates.

Social Media Technology and Public Relations

The Internet never sleeps, and nothing is ever truly deleted. Businesses would do well to remember the limitations of technology when attempting damage control – screenshots and cached pages are a simple way to show the previous status of anything on the Internet, so arguing that no posts have been deleted when clearly – posts have been deleted, is futile at best. What’s the best public relations move at this point? I leave that to others to decide – but would venture to suggest that honesty is the best policy… and avoiding middle-of-the-night social media explosions is always a good idea.

Resources:

Google. Request Removal of a Cached Page. (2013). Accessed February 3, 2013.

If You Can’t Afford to Tip: Facebook Timeline Photo. I guess they deleted the post…thankfully I got a screenshot. (2013). Accessed February 3, 2013.

Facebook. Applebees. (2013). Accessed February 3, 2013.

Applebees. Statement from President Mike Archer. (2013). Accessed February 3, 2013.

Twitter. Applebees. (2013). Accessed February 3, 2013.

Stollar, R.L. Applebee’s Overnight Social Media Meltdown: A Photo Essay. (2013). Accessed February 3, 2013.

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