FAIL: How Hesburger’s mistake highlighted one success

FAIL: How Hesburger’s mistake highlighted one success

Why your Facebook wall is exactly where people should complain.


Recently, Finnish fast food chain Hesburger were in the papers for the wrong reasons – a major customer service fail. This was not the first time they have received significant negative press from social media. This time the story centred around actions of the staff in one of their branches in Kuopio. According to the story, an older gentleman had ordered a traditional Finnish dish of cubed potatoes and sausages but unfortunately dropped his tray, spilling them all over the floor. Staff in the restaurant did not attempt to help clean up, instead one of the other customers present came to his aid, not only helping him to wipe the floor but also buying him a replacement meal with their own money. In terms of fail, this one is not pretty.

The helpful customer, local resident Emma Kokkonen, posted about the experience on Facebook later in the day. She told the story in her own words (in Finnish):

Her post generated over five thousand shares. This is exactly the kind of publicity that no company wants, but there is one important thing that Hesburger have learned since their last social media based fail:

 To open their Facebook wall.

Brands should always have their Facebook pages set to open, so that people can post directly to their wall. They should also enable the option for people to message them privately. It may sound counter-intuitive to want to have people complaining on your very own page, but I will explain why it is crucial to allow it, using a previous fail from this time last year.

On 31st August 2013, snowboarder Fredu Sirviö wanted to share his feelings about Hesburger’s marketing campaign at the time, but finding their Facebook wall closed, he instead posted an open letter to Hesburger on his personal timeline. The first sentence read: “Since I cannot send a message to you on your [Facebook] page, this is an open letter to you.”

Old fail: Fredu Sirviö’s message went viral on Facebook and beyond

The post spread quickly, being shared over 1600 times within 3 days and attracting attention on the Iltalehti news website, which ran a story about young people and fast food marketing that quickly attracted over 1000 likes.

Closed wall = Fail

Fan posts to a brand’s wall have much less visibility than regular wall posts. They are invisible on mobile – which accounts for more than half of Facebook visits. When people wish to air their grievances with a brand and find the wall closed, they will often post as a comment in reply to posts on their main Facebook page. This has higher visibility and pollutes any positive conversation going on at the time. If this letter had been posted to Hesburger’s Facebook wall, it is likely that the message would not have got so much attention.

However – even if this message had generated the same amount of shares, the company would have been able to post a reply immediately and guaranteed equal visibility. Instead they were unable to respond, annoying consumers even further. When the story ran in the press, Hesburger was unable to reply in time and defend itself.

So in summary – although Hesburger will be reeling from this latest round of bad press, they can and should feel good about their decision to open their Facebook wall. The current situation would have been much worse if they hadn’t changed anything from last year. All companies make mistakes, but not all of them learn from them. In this instance Hesburger proved they have done, which will have helped to alleviate frustration and bad feeling towards the brand.

All they have to do now is start replying to questions on Twitter – oh wait, they did that too. Better late than never 🙂