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Delta Sky Miles Dining — How NOT to Do Social Media

Come on, Delta, understanding social media isn't hard -- the Golden Rule is that the community comes first

I recently heard a tale of sadness and despair from my normally cheerful and up-beat father. He is a member of the Delta Sky Miles Dining program, which offers extra bonus miles when you use your Delta credit card to pay for meals at certain restaurants (three miles for every dollar spent). As part of this program, diners may leave reviews on the Delta Dining Website about the participating restaurants they visit. More specifically, they may leave POSITIVE REVIEWS. Alas, dear old dad had a terrible experience at one of these restaurants and submitted an appropriately negative review to the Delta Dining community. Sadly, his review was never posted. Concerned for his fellow diners, he called Delta Dining to find out what happened. Point blank, he was told that they can’t post negative reviews. They have a policy that forbids it. After all, these participating restaurants pay good money to be included in the program and bad reviews would make them sad. It doesn’t take a genius to see how short-sighted Delta is being here. In fact, this provides a stellar example of a company not understanding the whole point of social media. If you are going to ask for feedback, you have to take what you get. Otherwise your credibility is shot. And once that happens, the backlash can be severe. Since Delta is pretty much ripping off CitySearch or Yelp, by adding a reviews component to the site, they should take a few minutes and realize WHY those sites are successful in the first place. The reason is obvious — credibility. While there will always be positive reviews for crappy restaurants and crappy reviews for excellent restaurants, the reviews for any given establishment — when taken as a whole — are usually pretty accurate. You can almost always weed out the reviewers who don’t know squat (or don’t care) about food. You can also easily spot the people who are just looking for a venue to bitch because that’s what they like to do. Even if you aren’t sure, if someone is really far off, the community will let this be known. And that’s the whole idea. Because when it comes to social media, you need to trust, respect and protect the interests of your community. Sponsors may come and go, but once the community realizes you have sold them out, they are gone for good. For the record, the restaurant my dad visited is Joseppi’s in Tacoma, WA. His chief complaints were that the restroom was dirty and the hostess was too busy talking on the phone to her boyfriend to do her job. He also found the food to be mediocre.  Looking at reviews for Joseppi’s on Citysearch and Yelp, most people find the staff friendly and helpful. Some like the food and some find it so-so. Taken collectively, I think I get a pretty good picture of what to expect — decent service and lousy food. I’d expect the food to be bad because a large number of people in this part of the country don’t know  good Italian food from Chef Boyardee. If several find it mediocre, that’s a bad sign. Regardless, if I visited Joseppi’s based on a bunch of glowing reviews from the Delta Sky Miles program, I’d almost certainly be in for a nasty surprise. And that’s just not cool. Sorry Delta, but you blew it.