Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Imperfection of Social Media

Posted by auroracitizen on September 30, 2009

Bruce Temkin of Forrester Research recently published this post about social media. It seems appropriate in this circumstance.

Best Buy recently posted a seemingly innocent question on its Facebook page: “What do you think about offering in Spanish?” But it didn’t get the constructive dialogue that it was looking for. According to Tracy Benson, Best Buy’s senior director of interactive marketing and emerging media:

It was a landmine. There were hundreds of negative responses flowing in, people posting racist, rude comments

My take: Best Buy’s experience highlights key learnings about social media:

  • Feedback doesn’t always reflect the actual voice of the customer.
  •  A loud minority can disrupt almost any conversation.
  • If you initiate a conversation, you should have rules for terminating it.
  • Being open and honest sometimes requires being firm and intolerant.
  • Listening to feedback is only the first step in the “LIRM” process.

The bottom line: Don’t treat social media as a panacea

10 Responses to “Imperfection of Social Media”

  1. Robert the Bruce said

    To: Anonymous @ October 15, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    You are correct that she is not engaging in any dialogue. In her last rant she makes mention at the beginning about a comment that she received but again I see no trace of the comment – who is to say that she is even quoting the comments accuratly. Then she rails about me again under the guise that I am against her because she is old. Nothing would be further from the truth of course and given the logic that she cites, I could accuse her of being anti-40 something! She fails to understand (or wants to understand) that I am not against her “informing” the public about what is going on at council. My problem is that she uses the media to debate council decisions after the fact and outside of the arena (council chambers) where it should be done. Her “information” is really just her telling the public that the other 8 know nothing and she knows it all – because that is the way she did it 30 years ago.

    I think her blog is no longer a valid venue for discussion. She has been eclipsed by this site because she does not allow real discussion. I think the social media experiment from Evelyn Buck is dead.


  2. Anonymous said

    Hey, Robert the Bruce, you are certainly making waves at Ev’s blog, but she seems to be squashing comments on the comments. She has lots of posts, but isn’t engaging in dialogue. She needs to be careful that she doesn’t diminish the support she has gained lately. Oh, and I’m writing this here because it is very unlikely she’ll post it on her blog.

  3. Robert the Bruce said

    Social Media like blogs will always be potentially flawed because discussions (or arguments) will be controlled by one faction and they have the power to edit/squelch/censor opposing opinion.

    Case in point….

    Yesterday I posted a rebuttal to Evelyn Buck’s blog about her “Garden Party” attendance and subsequent replies about her attendance. There were a number of posting that allowing a developer to pay for her (and her daughter’s) way to the event could be perceived as a conflict or unethical. The fact that SHE mentioned that she was the only vote supporting the developer’s application brings the perception of wrong-doing to light. In my post, I suggested that the optics of such a thing could be interpreted the wrong way. I also made mention that these sorts of issues are what has brought public and private organizations to the point of creating and enforcing codes of conduct and ethics. Also legislation like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US.

    Ms. Buck decided NOT to post my entry to her blog, but rather use it as a jumping off point to make some serious acqusations at myself. “Robert The Bruce , a regular contributor has made a comment which purports to prove I am a person without character, integrity or intelligence. Robert regularly records his hostility to my presence on council. My age and experience are the usual factors. I am forced to conclude his own credentials are suspect.” I am offended that she has called me “hostile” and to say that I have accused her of the things that she says. She also questions my credibility! I have subsequently requested that she come out from behind the curtain of the blog and publish my post in it’s entirety and let others decide if I was “hostile”. She is very brave when she is in control of both sides of the argument, but like when things in the council chambers are not going her way, she picks up and leaves.

    As you read her post about me, she once again speaks about how things used to be and stuff was never written down. Here is the real problem with Ms Buck’s perception of how the Town should be run. She is still operating in the ’60s. Things have changed – she doesn’t like change – she fights change.

    Her last line of the post is “The lines are no longer so clear. Nor the principles either. This is exactly why the optics of her accepting the developer’s generosity can be suspect. THE LINES ARE NO LONGER SO CLEAR!


  4. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    I found another thing of interest when reading the disclaimer on Google’s new sidewiki project

    “Please note that just because you disagree with someone’s point of view does not mean it violates any policies.”

    Evilina are you reading this?

  5. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    Wired had another excellent article in their April issue titled “The Taming of Comment Trolls”, you can read it here:

    Amongst solutions for dealing with disruptive dialogue (something BestBuy may want to investigate) included “crowdsourcing”, “selective invisibility” and my personal favorite: “disemvoweling”, which should be saved for certain cowards on this blog that hide conveniently behind the “Anonymous” handle.

  6. Anonymous said

    The mayor and GOS may not be well-versed in the value of blogs etc. but I have noticed that they sure play up to conventional cameras at council meetings.
    That by the way, is in stark contrast to how they behaved at the last GC meeting. Councillor Gaertner was in the chair and the conduct was shamefully blatant. When Councillor Buck raised her hand to speak she was told to “be quick about it.” However when Granger and Wilson waffled on ad infinitum there was no such rebuke.
    The smirking, rolling of eyes heavenward and snickering between Gaertner, Maceachern and Morris when Councillor Buck was speaking was blatantly disrespectful and disgusting. There was no such reaction when Granger opened his mike and made his usual incoherent diatribe about who knows what. I say that this is discrimination; and we allow them to get away with it.
    However, all was polite at the video-ed council meeting with none of the derogatory comments or body language toward Councillor Buck…. with the exception of venomous, sarcastic Maceachern who accused Buck of tabling a red herring… but then she is incapable of restraining her vitriol whether cameras are present or not. Such is her inherent nature and tunnel vision when it comes to Councillor Buck.
    It is time we demanded better of those who were elected in our name.

  7. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    Here are a couple good ones:

    and of course my own

    I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface, hopefully more get posted here for us all to enjoy

  8. Anonymous said

    “There are several active blogs in our town, soon to be more I’m sure, and we as citizens need to embrace them.”

    Please post links to all.


  9. Countdown to Nov 2010 said

    The third ad from the self-described Aurora Coalition was published on page 17 of this week’s Auroran.
    While I am also annoyed and ashamed of the antics of this term’s council, it is my opinion that this ad is rambling and silly.
    Aurora does indeed deserve better, but following this supposed coalition is not going to make that happen.

  10. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    This topic opens up great discussion surrounding use of one-way or two-way communication in social media.

    There was a recent article in Wired (Feb 2009) which can be found here:

    It analyzes President Obama’s strategies in embracing both one and two-way communication in his administration.

    I thought it was relevant as both Obama and Mayor Morris promised in their campaigns to expand government transparency.

    Obama delivered on his promise of change, he brought blogs, wikis and social networking tools into the executive branch, and uses them to their full potential.

    Our Mayor has not, in fact Morris looks to be the Aurora equivalent of John McCain.

    Mayor Morris has not only failed to embrace social media, she simply turns her back on all of it hoping it would all go away. When it doesn’t she calls her lawyers. This is a detriment to our town and does nothing to expand openness or accountability.

    The fact that Evelyn Buck’s blog got enough attention by the Mayor to submit a code of conduct complaint one wonders why the town hasn’t decided to embrace their own.

    There are several active blogs in our town, soon to be more I’m sure, and we as citizens need to embrace them.

    I’m sure the Mayor and the town would like us to believe that new section on the town’s website displaying letters from residents ( ) serves this purpose. But alas it does not.

    It is a closed – one-way communication system and further proves how clueless the Mayor is on this issue.

    And Mayor if you are reading this for love of god please don’t do something rash like hook up a twitter account, we already know where you are at any given time of the day due to the number of events hosted around town in your honor. By my watch it must be right around time for “The Mayor’s blank stare”.

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