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Austin business proves that social media cuts both ways

Best PSA ever

If you’ve ever visited Austin and gone to the Alamo Drafthouse, it is a fantastic experience and oh so very Austin-esque. It is a movie theater where you can order dinner and drinks throughout the movie and you can even get pitchers of fantastic draft beers. The staff is likely to have tattoos and say “no worries, man” or “sure, sure” in a relaxed, kind voice, and they always duck during the movie so as not to interrupt the movie (or the awesome food you’re eating). It has a great reputation here in town and is as relaxed and friendly as the city itself.

Any time you see a movie at Alamo, it begins with a warning that all texters or phone users will be asked to leave- it’s a simple request but one that they make clear to everyone prior to a movie. Alamo goes out of their way to not interrupt the movie by ducking and whispering and simply asks patrons to do the same, plus they have to be relatively strict because they do serve alcohol which can make a person rowdy- it’s a courtesy and a crowd control thing.

Here in Texas, it isn’t uncommon for people to go out of their way to be friendly and not put anyone out, so when one person was disturbing the collective attendance and happened to violate one of their only rules, they kicked her out and she left the above message (which I can tell you as a native Austinite, she’s not from Austin which makes her behavior, accent and overall continued rudeness stand out). As a sidenote, we’ve watched the video 10 times in a row and almost die laughing- 0:37 is the best part of the entire video.

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Social media cuts both ways

Alamo Drafthouse likely knew that this angry lady was about to Yelp about them and devote her days to trashing them on Twitter, Facebook and the like with the sympathy “I got ripped off” card, so they headed it off at the pass and in true Texas snark style, they turned the phone call into a mock PSA video and anyone who has ever been criticized for enforcing any rules (moms included) will enjoy the point of sharing the angry phone call in public- social media cuts both ways. Angry Lady can leave mean reviews everywhere she wants, but Alamo is making sure we all know who she is and what happened in her own angry words. And they’re sure to get web traction because of this and generate some extra business not to mention loyalty.

In the era of social media, consumers have been empowered, and businesses have been made to feel powerless and now go so far out of the way, even changing their entire business models because a pissed off consumer didn’t get a $500 rebate and left a bad review on an obscure site. Alamo’s standing up should help you as a business to realize that social media opens you up for criticism and leaves you vulnerable, but you are not powerless. A New York pizza company began getting bad Yelp reviews and mocked them by having the reviews printed on their employees’ shirts (“this place sucks,” and “their pizza tastes like crap”) which skyrocketed their positive reviews of loyal consumers who otherwise wouldn’t have been moved to defend them.

Alamo has done the same thing in Texas style and we love it- social media cuts both ways and businesses are starting to stand up rather than cower in fear. A change is coming, we feel it.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Matt Kelly

    June 7, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Now I'm going to have to make a special trip to the Alamo Drafthouse just to see this!

  2. Scott Allen @ PSI Seminars

    June 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Having on more than one occasion been annoyed by bright cell phones shining in my face from the row in front of me, THANK YOU and KUDOS to Alamo Drafthouse for having this policy and enforcing it. And well done for putting this out there.

    The customer is NOT always right.

  3. austin

    June 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Yep, those hipsters at the Alamo can put together a witty video, but they can't deliver on a pleasant movie or dinning experience. Alamo doesn't want you using phones because it might interfere with the waiters taking orders and delivering subpar food throughout the entire movie. I hate to say it, but I'm with the f'ing txter. Alamo is one of those over-rated Austin experiences. I prefer to enjoy my movies without interruptions and my food quality C+ or better. Next!

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