Monthly Archives: January 2013

Hygiene and Social Media

I tweeted the following this morning: ‘Little tip: if you own / run a food business, please don’t tweet / FB that you have a stinking cold, but are about to go and cook / bake’

It seemed to generate quite a bit of feedback and it got me thinking about how we, as small businesses, use Twitter and social media. The comment stemmed from something I read on Facebook this morning. The owner of a cake company wrote that they had woken up with a terrible cold, but was going to don their apron and carry on baking.

I love Twitter (more so than Facebook, if I’m honest) and I love the immediacy of social media. I do think sometimes that people misunderstand the concept of social media however. Perhaps they have made friends with some of their followers (and some of their followers are their friends) and they then forget that other businesses and even customers also follow them and read their thoughts and conversations.

Twitter (and Facebook) isn’t an excuse to have a chat with your friends, not if you’re posting as your business, at any rate. It’s a way to sell yourself and your business. To show the human side of what you do. Yes, by all means share amusing stories and anecdotes. If you’re having a bad day a virtual hug can be a great pick-me-up. But some things really don’t need to be shared!

You want people to come to you and buy your food, then, hopefully to come back and recommend you to all of their friends.  By sharing with the world that you’re full of cold (or even worse, as I was told today, that you have a mouse infestation!), your customers are not building up a great picture of you. Would I go to food business if I knew that the person preparing the food was ill? It’s unlikely. I want to support local businesses, but not to the detriment of my health!

Similarly, there is no way I’d ever go to a business if I knew that they had mice or cockroaches. If you are unlucky enough to have either, shut up shop immediately, call your EHO, get the problem dealt with and learn the lessons as to why they came, so that they don’t come back.

However, PLEASE don’t tweet about this, or share it with the world. You will damage your reputation and possibly your business as well. By all means share the experience once it is over and use it as a lesson learned, but do be careful how you share your news.

There is such a thing as too much information and before you next hit the ‘send’ button, think:

Why am I saying this?

Who will be reading it?

What impression does it give of me?

If you can answer the above positively, then yes, press send. If not, then maybe have a rethink. Twitter and social media are great tools, but you have to use them well.

I would like to conclude that if you’re ill (you’re full of cold, you have the flu, a stomach ache, food poisoning, diarrhoea, or something contagious) then you shouldn’t be in a kitchen or preparing food for other people to consume.  If you find an infestation of any kind, you should close immediately and contact your local EHO for advice and who to contact at pest control.  I’m not in favour of covering anything up and please do have consideration for your customers. If they fall ill, you’re liable. Also, would you want to eat somewhere which had mice in it and where the owner was snotty-nosed whilst preparing your food? I thought not!