Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Opinions are like A-Holes...

Pet Peeve - –noun
a particular and often continual annoyance; personal bugbear: This train service is one of my pet peeves. Origin: 1915–20, Americanism

So, I have a new, “continual annoyance.” I’m starting to get “rubbed the wrong way” by people telling me how and how not to use Twitter and Social Media. In my guestimation, the phenomenon known as Social Media has only been around for 3 years, max. And, that’s if you were really savvy and jumped on the bandwagon early. I’m not even going to single out any group of people that I see this come from the most… I’m just generalizing. If you don’t like my Tweets, don’t follow me – it is really pretty simple. Since they don’t offer a degree in Social Media, I’m going to say you are no more of an expert than my 2 year old son. It is just 140 characters of whatever YOU want to talk about and whomever CHOOSES to read it. That’s it.

I’m not even talking about sex, religion, race or any other controversial topics. No, as a restauranteur, I keep my posts closest to my heart’s love and that would be food, drink and sport.

Does Social Media blur the lines for professionals? Well sure. Just as much as false Wikepedia entries or any other “internet research,” the world wide web is full of poisonous spiders. Aren’t journalists always supposed to have more than one source to back up facts? Same thing applies with Social Media. You don’t have to base fact upon one person’s opinion or tweet.

Lately I’ve been reading “reviewers” and “bloggers” disagree with a new form of marketing for restaurants called TasteCasting. I have read that they should be using AFJ guidelines when “reviewing” a restaurant. However, these are not “reviews” and should not be marketed as such or confused as such. At this infancy stage of growth for TasteCasting, the guidelines set forth are described as (from tastecasting.com) “…a team of socially networked, and social media savvy people that establishments invite to attend a complimentary tasting. In exchange the TasteCasting team broadcasts to their collective network of friends, followers and linked connections using Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, WordPress, Flickr and more…”

I don’t believe any TasteCaster is encouraged to lie or bend truths if they don’t enjoy an entrée, service or the environment. I believe the restaurant is still held accountable. I’m sure free food skews an unbiased review and, from the restaurant owner’s table, it is much easier to prepare for a group that is doing this KNOWING when they are coming vs. a traditional review. But, the point is, these are not professional reviews and are not seen as such. I would bet that a professional journalist or food critic has many different followers/friends than a TasteCaster. Therefore, the information being sent by the TasteCaster is more marketing and opinion than they type of information that may be sent by a professional food critic.

In my opinion, TasteCasting is a great, beneficial resource for restaurants in an economy that has taken most traditional forms of expensive media spending out of our reaches. If you think that these events blur or threaten your expertise, then don’t read them. If you think these events confuse the average consumer or palette of the dining guest, then it is your job to educate them as such.

Personally, I don’t listen to critics – I like to form my own opinion on everything from food, to wine, to movies. I’ve always believed in the old adage: “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone’s got one and most of them stink.”


  1. Thank you for this Scott. As a Tastecaster and newbie to social media, I am in no way attempting to write professional reviews for a restaurant. If anything, this gets me out to meet new and interesting people, and allows me into some very cool restaurants (like Scotty's Brewhouse) - and no, I didn't get any free food to say that.

  2. Thanks Scott for your constant support and I'm glad that you "get it" and are paving the way for others to understand as well.