PayPal fails to show regret(sy)

If you’ve never seen a social media showdown, head over to

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, PayPal’s Facebook page was taken over by droves of angry Regretsy users. Best known for showcasing Etsy DIY gone wrong, the Regretsy community had been focusing on a Secret Santa drive when PayPal refused to accept it as a charitable measure.

Typical Regretsy fare

I won’t get into the nitty gritty here – it’s hard to tell right from wrong at this point – but you can see more on the story here, here  and here.

While thousands of people attack the PayPal Facebook page, what’s glaringly missing is a statement or even acknowledgement from PayPal. More than 12 hours after the first stone was cast, PayPal is still staying silent with nary a tweet or post.

What PayPal should have done:

It’s no secret that someone in the PayPal offices is getting thousands of notifications to their inbox right now as angry users flood their social networks.  12 hours is far too long to let this go on – there should have been a response, even something as simple as “we’re looking into this issue and we’ll get back to you soon” immediately. Social media never sleeps and your community managers shouldn’t either (OK, sleep…but scan when you wake up). At the very least, this should have been dealt with early this morning.

One of the many posts taken over by angry PayPal users

What PayPal needs to do now:

If PayPal is indeed wrong, they need to apologize – and fast. Be truthful, be thoughtful, be remorseful.

If they’re in the right, they need to explain why, apologize for the mixup and do their best to push the bad content down online.

What can we learn from this?

Dos and Don’ts of a social media crisis:

DON’T be hasty…or slow – It’s a delicate balance, but make sure you have enough information before you make a statement. At the same time, you need to quickly inform your community that you see the issue and are dealing with it.

DON’T delete messages – this angers people and only makes the firestorm worse.

DON’T respond individually – it’s impossible to respond to thousands comments individually. Picking and choosing which comments to respond to will only fuel the fire.

DO apologize – whether the company is right or wrong, they need to apologize for the inconvenience/mix-up and vow to make things clearer/smoother in the future.

DO continue to post relevant content – more than ever, a brand needs to keep up their social media presence in a crisis. The positive content on your feeds needs to outweigh the bad.

DO respond on all channels – It’s important to get your side of the story out. When you decide on a response, make sure it’s available on your website and on all social media channels. If you have a call centre, brief your employees on how to respond. Be consistent.

DO consider the effect this will have on your subsidiaries if you’re an international brand – even if the issue is involving, say, the United States branch of the company, you need to consider what will be done on the Canadian side to manage it.


What are your best tips for handling a social media crisis? What do you think PayPal should do now?



PayPal has issued a statement on their blog about the issue. They’ve returned the funds and will be making a donation. Do you think this was the right move?