Next Monday, October 5, 2009 at 6:00pm, I’ll be enjoying some pizza and a couple of pints at The Pizza Kitchen and I’d love your company. I can promise you’ll experience friendly service, tasty pizza and a funky atmosphere full of Elvis memorabilia.
The reason for my friendly invitation is that I need to remind myself that it is perfectly ok for me to share my experiences using social media. I read a couple of articles this week about a lawsuit against the owner of The Pizza Kitchen because he shared on FaceBook and Twitter that he was unhappy with the service he got from a vendor. You can read the details for yourself, but I’ve pulled out my favorite quotes below.
Robyn Askew, the attorney representing The Pizza Kitchen, said, "We are responding appropriately to a lawsuit that we consider to be without merit."
It may not be apparent now, but one day in the history books you might find this story where an advertising agency sued their client, because their client seemed to be able to get a message out using social media more efficiently than the ad agency could counter with traditional means.
I lived behind The Pizza Kitchen for five years, in the Farmington neighborhood. I had many delicious pizzas from that friendly establishment. I have many pleasant memories of evenings spent on the patio of TPK with friends. The owner, Travis, isn’t a personal friend but I interacted with him and his staff regularly for five years. My impressions are 100% positive. Personally, I don’t think Travis would say anything about a vendor if he didn’t believe it to be true.
I am not an attorney, and such speech may well be illegal under contract law for all I know, but that isn’t what’s important to me. What I care about is that this, seemingly petty, lawsuit not have a chilling effect on speech in our nascent social network community here in Knoxville and elsewhere.
I get lots of useful consumer info from Twitter such as current deals and new bands I want to listen to. I also get other info such as warning of a highway patrolman on I-40 with a radar gun. I value all this information and I don’t want to see people stop sharing information because they fear legal retribution.
Just yesterday, on Twitter, I heard about an extremely positive experience with Sears extended warranty service. I have a fairly low opinion of Sears and there is no way that Sears could have raised my opinion that quickly with traditional marketing. I now have a positive concept about the company that was put there by a trusted source: a social network friend.
The irony in The Pizza Kitchen situation, is that they are being sued by a marketing firm. Do you see the irony? The marketing firm is spreading Travis’s message that they are douche bags for him.
There are currently 1471 people following my semi-random comments on Twitter. All those people have people following them etc. Vendors and customers are equals now. It’s a different world and a different business landscape than before. We all get to express our opinions.
Twitter never ceases to amaze me. I’ve seen lots of memes pop up and fade away in my Twitter stream, but, by far, the strangest is the #AlanStevensAvatarWeekend hashtag that sprang up this weekend. Forty people adopted a picture of me as a child in my Captain Kirk shirt as their avatar.
The background for this strange occurrence is another Twitter meme. I noticed people putting old pictures of themselves, often with outdated hair styles, as their Twitter avatar. While I have plenty of embarrassing hair styles in my past, I decided to join this meme by showing my geek cred. On Thursday evening, I changed my avatar to the afore mentioned picture.
On Friday morning, Andrew Duthie noticed my picture and claimed that he had been outclassed. Next, Y. Alan Griver adopted the picture as his own avatar because, he said, it’s a level of awesome he could never reach. By Friday afternoon, Andrew and Alan had both adopted the picture as their avatar and invited everyone else on twitter to do the same.
Friday night, I looked at my Twitter stream and saw around half of the tweets had my photo as the avatar. I announced that I felt like John Malkovich inside his own head. If you’ve seen Being John Malkovich, then you know what I mean. I wasn’t active on Twitter this weekend, I had children and home repairs to deal with, but I watched on with amusement.
Saturday night, I looked at my followers list and saw that many of my most recent followers had the Alan as Kirk avatar. I find it amazing that people who didn’t even follow me on Friday, had my picture as their avatar on Saturday.
I want to give special recognition to two variations on the #AlanStevensAvatarWeekend theme. Rick Hodder changed the shirt color to red, giving it a look of almost certain doom. Scott Koon (aka lazycoder) took a different picture of me from 20 years ago instead of 30 years ago as his avatar.
Thanks to everyone involved in this silliness. You all gave me countless belly laughs this weekend. I can’t wait to see what surprises my Twitter Tribe comes up with next!
On January 1, I was pleased to receive an email with the subject “Congratulations 2009 Microsoft MVP!” It is nice to be recognized for my contributions to the Microsoft developer community. I’ve made a lot of friends and learned plenty by traveling around and giving talks, as well as helping organize developer events.
If you are unfamiliar with the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional program, you can read up on it here. Personally, I was overwhelmed by the show of support that I received from my peers when I announced my receipt of the award on twitter.
If you go here you can see what I’m talking about. It goes on for a few pages. I feel a bit like George Bailey in that my wealth and my reward is the amazing group of friends I’ve made.
The MVP award is for the contributions I made in the previous twelve months. I am not obligated to make any further contributions, but who am I kidding, now that I’ve found my Tribe, I can’t seem to stay at home.