Perfect Case Study: Getting Left Behind In Social Media, Impact on Customer Service #Fail

Today I launched a new video titled, Social Media – Don’t Get Left Behind.  As you can guess it’s a quick story on why the social media train has left the station and you simply can’t afford to ignore it any longer.  Get on the bus or be left behind.  Pretty straight forward.

Only a few hours later, I am late night multi-tasking.  A little Tweeting combined with an email communication to our community and of course some updates to our websites.

My co-founder spent the last two days networking and came home with tons of leads. We had big plans to finalize a couple squeeze pages this evening and send out the first nurture campaign email first thing tomorrow.

However, thanks to our host provider, BlueHost, this was not possible.  Not sure what is going on because I can’t get ahold of them.

Their lines are ringing busy.  There is no announcement on the front page of their website.

Their customers are obviously tech savvy.  I would guess a majority of them are tweeters.  BlueHost is one of the recommended host providers for WordPress websites.

So I did what I always do when I am at a loss for information.  I go to Twitter.  It has the best real-time search for most anything these days.

Within seconds I see many who are experiencing the same issues.  Their sites are down too.  Even though it stinks on one hand it’s a relief as I know it’s not just me or something I did to break my own server.

At first we’re all hopeful we can tweet Bluehost and that maybe they’ll respond.

bluehost social media case studyWrong! They only have 418 followers and are only following 2 people.  The worst part is they haven’t tweeted since February 24th

This is a perfect case study in why businesses can not ignore social media any longer.  Your customers want to communicate with you. They want to tweet with you in 140 characters.  When your phones are down send one simple tweet and you can save 100 loyal customers within minutes.  Wouldn’t one tweet of 140 characters be worth 100 lost customers and the negative brand equity of yet another night time outage?

blue host customer service tweet stream Instead their loyal customers are trading tweets discussing recommendations of what host provider they should switch to.

After midnight they finally realized their Twitter stream had gone mad.  They then jumped on Twitter trying to calm the storm.  A little late to build a relationship, heh?

How much better would it have been to communicate and be my Twitter friend first?  Not a good way to start off a social media relationship telling me not to call your customer service folks.  What else are we suppose to do? The website didn't have an update and the phones were ringing busy.

This gets a five star in #failwhale in my book.

Only bonus is I now have a real-time case study to add to my email communication on being left behind. Only question is when will I be able to post it to my site?  I guess if you’re reading this they must have eventually fixed whatever problem they’re having.

What BlueHost Could Have Done:

  • Have a proactive plan to engage in social media and avoid being left behind.
  • Joined their customers on social media prior to a cotastrophy.
  • Built a relationship with me that didn't start with “please don't call me”.
  • Don't bother setting up your Twitter account if you aren't going to use it.  This did them more harm than good.
  • Include social media in their support process.
  • Be nice.  In their customer service tweet stream you can feel the stress and anxiety of the man or woman behind the tweeter like a knife being cut through bread.
  • Shouldn't have had the same guy who worked on the servers all day be the one to tweet with your customers who are not satisfied and tweeting the world about it.
  • Minimize the sarcasm in their customer service tweets.   It would have maybe been tolerated had you tweeted with me before today.

bluehost twitter customer service response

bluehost twitter frenzy customer service


What are your thoughts? Are you finding you want to communicate with your partners, clients and friends in 140 characters? Are they available on the other end?

See this article syndicated on The Customer Collective


About the Author:

CEO / Founder Marketing Nutz, full service social media, digital marketing, experiential brand, conversion optimization agency. Ranked by Forbes as Top 10 Social Media Women and 10 Social Media Power Influencer. Keynote speaker, author, strategist, consultant, coach, & trainer. Helps businesses of all sizes integrate social media into the DNA of their business, connect with target audiences to nurture authentic customer relationships. 15+ years experience working with Fortune 500, Franchised corporations with 4000+ local franchises to entrepreneurs and startups.


  1. Heather September 17, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    The knock-on effect of this is interesting. I've been a loyal Bluehost customer for years and promote it to all my clients and followers. Something like this may result in a re-think, but I will see how they handle the expected fall-out. If they ignore it, then I may look elsewhere, because they have a huge opportunity to recover the situation and make a positive impact on their current and future clients. We'll see. Thank you for the case study

    • PamMktgNut September 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

      Heather – I agree. I haven't left them yet. They have been good to me and until today I have never had any major issues. I am very disappointed though in their lack of communication. I have always wondered why they weren't more engaged in social media. Since I am a supporter of them I naturally look to engage. It was obvious they were relying on customers engaging in social media as their bread and butter to keep the lights on. However, they weren't invested enough to actually learn and engage in the markets they were serving. This is a deeper case study than what we even see on the surface. I'm going to continue to follow. They have an opportunity to turn this around, engage and keep their loyal customers happy assuming it doesn't happen again. If they don't make the necessary steps I think they'll probably be on the same path as some of the other host providers whom we all know and use to love 😉

  2. steveolenski September 17, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Wow, you can't make this stuff up… it's truly amazing that a company that's supposedly tech savvy like a hosting company doesn't “get it.”

    And I love the “Don't call…” Tweet they put out… are you freaking kidding me?

    And you were so right re: the sarcasm… of which I am a huge fan of 🙂

    But you can't “Introduce” your sarcasm during a crisis when you've havent been doing anything re: Twitter/SM the whole time! Hello McFly! Jeezus… people are so damn dumb sometimes…

    • PamMktgNut September 17, 2010 at 1:24 pm

      Steve – I agree for those of us engaged in social media and seeing the benefits for ourselves and customers every day it's hard to believe people just don't get it. That's why I put that video together to hopefully strike a chord in that you truly will be like a zombie wondering what happened if you don't get off the bus seat and join the party!

      The sarcasm was inappropriate given the seriousness of the issue, the number of complaints and the fact they only hopped on twitter because it was smokin' hot from all the tweet craziness.

      Agree, you and I tend to have sarcasm in our DNA so for us both to say it's not the time or place, means it must be a pretty serious conversation 😉

      Thanks for your comment! Let's connect this afternoon?

  3. WBaranowski September 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    The Age Of Transparency is truly here. Thanks for the great example. Loved the video, too.

    • PamMktgNut September 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm



      Pam Moore

      CEO / Founder

      FruitZoom, Inc.

      o: 813.685.1491 | c: 813.404.1485

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