Birdeye Asked We Take Down Our Article on Them, Here’s What We Did Instead
A Brief History
I don’t like to write. It takes nothing short of an act of Congress to get me to write. When I do write, I have a couple rules: be thorough, be fair, and be helpful. It’s simple. Last November, I wrote about a problem Birdeye had with it’s platform.
For those who didn’t read, a massive amount of Google reviews went missing from Birdeye customer’s Google My Business profiles. A lot of small businesses were affected.
I wrote the article for those affected. I was trying to provide direction to people, like a customer of mine, who had lost reviews and didn’t know why it happened, how it happened, or what to do about it.
People wanted answers.
I researched the issue, wrote several drafts, had the article peer-reviewed, and published it to an underwhelming 1,032 views as of February 25th.
Birdeye Joins the Party… After Everyone Left
I hadn’t thought much about the article after publishing it. Not many people read it, it didn’t bring in links. As you can tell from above, the post flatlined.
It definitely mattered to someone though. On Saturday, Feb. 24th, I received several calls from a number I didn’t recognize. Somebody seemed pretty adamant about getting ahold of me. At the time, I was at a middle-school basketball game for my little brother; I ignored the calls.
Then I receive an urgent text message from the same number, the person identified themselves as being from Birdeye. I looked at the LinkedIn profile of the person and found out it wasn’t just anyone, it was a Vice President.
He really wanted to talk. The following conversation ensued.
Things Get Weird
This is where it got interesting. Turns out Birdeye wasn’t interested in “filling in the blanks”/editing the original article at all. They wanted the whole thing taken down. Not only that, they said if it wasn’t taken down they would consider involving lawyers.
Most interestingly, there was some pretty colorful language used to describe how the CEO felt about people like me who wrote “negatively” about Birdeye.
Here are the full call notes:
“Google & Yelp are trying to define what review solicitation is. It’s not fair.”
“We don’t call it review solicitation here. We call it experience management.”
“Your blog post ‘hit a nerve’.”
“Google review deletion did happen. Can’t talk about it publicly because it’s confidential information.”
“A lot of internal work went into fixing that issue. We have 25,000 customers & sometimes these things will happen.”
“The important thing is that they [Birdeye’s engineers] fixed it. They worked with Google to fix the problem.”
“Algorithm changes caused the issue. It was a humongous issue for us.” <—This is what we want details on.
“Difference between us and other companies—we worked with Google to fix it.”
“There is a blog post from (an employee), explaining how they will make it not happen again.”
“CEO was agitated about post, says it undermines engineers. It’s fake news.”
“CEO is actually really pissed about post, wants to work with them [people who wrote negatively about Birdeye] to clear this up or ‘shoot them’.”
“If this works the way we want, we’ll avoid lawyers getting involved.”
To be candid, I was pretty rattled by the situation. While I was pretty sure “shoot them” was meant to be a colorful metaphor. I wasn’t interested in figuring out what that meant literally.
I took the article down. One reason was fear, the other was I was told I could potentially get a link from the website the following Monday if I cooperated. I’d at least get something out of a bad situation.
Spoiler: the link never happened and I haven’t heard from Birdeye since.
After some thought, conversations with people smarter than me, and a lot of stress eating, I decided to follow the advice someone from the The Hustle gave me: “🦆duck it.”
I put it back up.
Also, I wanted to write about how I felt like the situation should have panned out.
Here’s What I Decided to Do About Birdeye’s Response
I’d like to address the CEO directly. Hi. I’m Craig (not scary), the guy who wrote the post who is also pointing at a T-Rex (very scary) in the photo below.
If you had an issue with my post, I was willing to work with you on it. I would have been happy to take your insight, edit the post, and work with you to paint a better picture. Look at the texts, that’s what I offered. It was reasonable. That’s not the direction you guys chose to take though.
Instead you tried to pressure me into taking it down. You were worried about your image, and you know what? I get it.
I’m sorry the post struck a nerve. I wasn’t trying to hurt you. I was trying to help your customers. They were confused and frustrated. Some needed direction, and we as a community didn’t know how to respond. We had little direction to follow. In the case of my customer, who called your company and spoke to one of your representatives over the phone, he was told you guys were working on getting the reviews back.
It didn’t happen.
You know the first person a small business calls when reviews go missing? People like me. I got the call. The small business owner who was my customer wanted answers. I wasn’t alone in having to find them. We (the community) needed a solution.
So we dug around and felt like we found a working explanation—Birdeye was auto-filling star ratings on Google and breaking Google’s “Impersonation” Guideline.
It wasn’t a direct move against you. We weren’t out to get you. Further, I don’t need to be “shot” for coming to this conclusion. It’s a reasonable conclusion. You guys had an “auto-fill” feature in your review emails, then you removed it, and then the reviews stopped disappearing.
To your credit, I will admit I could have reached out to you guys. I didn’t. I’m sorry about that.
Remember the vast majority of digital marketers want to work with you to fix these problems. You guys are a big company. You’ve done a great job building your company. You have 25,000+ customers. When something like this affects a community though—we need to know how to respond to the calls we get. You need to understand when you make a mistake like this it’s not a tiny splash, it’s a cannonball.
And forgive me for sticking with the metaphor—your response was a bellyflop.
So if you’d like some direction, be more transparent, accept the problem, tell the community what happened, absorb the damage, and move on. Don’t waste your time with lawyer talk and “shooting” nonsense on little guys like me.
Remember, T-Rex = should be shot because scary. Craig = not.
Help us help you.
Final Note- This post is also a direct warning to any time-traveling T-Rexes. You know where I stand.