Art Caffe: The Social Media Quagmire Vis a Vis Crisis management

If you tweet, you are called a tweep. Tweep is a portmanteau formed from peep (person) and twitter. Kenyan tweeps, are fondly referred to as #kot, meaning Kenyans on twitter and they are renowned for their unabashed viciousness. What am I on about you wonder, indulge me.

You may have or may have not seen all the ‘wanton’ hate and disparaging remarks directed at Art Caffe recently due to alleged racist remarks or treatment. A popular Kenyan singer Habida, said that she ordered chicken only to be brought wings that had been bitten into, much to the chagrin of her fans.  Then there was that post on Kilimani mums that sparked even greater furore. Apparently a patron, black, was told he could not be served the croissants he ordered because they were too many, and he was black. When he protested, the diplomatic police who were in the vicinity were called to ‘prevail upon him to be calm’. All this is alleged, I do not have irrefutable proof that this happened.

Wikipedia describes racism this way, “Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior.”

The allegations about racism are not be taken lightly, not in a continent ravage by colonialism and still reeling from its effects forty somewhat years. This is not the first time that Art Caffe has faced such debilitating allegations, and unless the management sits on a windfall, they best come out to address this issue. So have they? Not on twitter at-least.

Artcaffe Meme

According to Jay Baer of, 70% of organizations do not respond to negative publicity on social media. Two prevailing reasons that he cites are, fear that the conversation will turn overly negative and lack of company resources to continually engage after working hours. Seemingly frivolous yes, but when companies don’t even have dedicated public relation officers, small wonder that little or no budget is set aside for social media monitoring. With social media managers being a dime a dozen today, budgetary allocations and or outsourcing is your friend.

Jay makes a very uncanny observation. And I quote, “The people that are using Twitter to complain are already disproportionately upset. Previous research from ExactTarget called Twitter X-Factors showed that less than 1% of customers use Twitter as their first stop in problem resolution. In almost every case, the people complaining on Twitter are doing so because your company already failed to satisfy them in one or more traditional customer service channels.”

So now that Art Caffe is being accused of flagrant miscarriage of justice, what should they do? A Youtube shared at-least three social media platforms apology would be a start, with a ‘palpable’ promise to retrain their staff on matters pertaining to customer service and hospitality. Also, seeing as this is not the first time these allegations are surfacing, it is clear that the underlying problem needs to be addressed and fast.

Artcaffe Faebook post

Something to carve into your communication strategy; the first 48 hours of dealing with a crisis is paramount to avoid exacerbation. That is according to my public relations background. I was taught that a crisis creates a vacuum, and if you do not hastily fill it, dissenting voices will gladly rise to the occasion! That is the quagmire that every organization dreads. To quote Jay Bear, “You need to listen, respond, and triage. I know they just look like tiny little heads floating across your computer, but these are real people. They are your customers. They are pissed off. Your silence is deafening. “

My next post will highlight the ten rules of crisis management, as outlined by Communication expert Brian Ellis but tackled by yours truly from a social media perspective. Meanwhile Art Caffe needs to do damage control, as the hashtags #Artcaffe and #BoycottArtCaffe are still trending.


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