Sunday, September 10, 2006

McDonalds opens blog, but apparently closes comments

This is what happens when a company that isn't familiar with blogging, decides to join the blogosphere. A couple of months ago, McDonalds started a corporate blog, entitled 'Open For Discussion', but some bloggers are claiming that the company's actions are not open for discussion on the blog. McDonalds partnership with GM earlier this summer to put toy Hummers in their Happy Meals has come under fire from the media and environmental groups.

McDonalds decided to address this controversy last week on their blog, and left a post which has ruffled a few feathers in the blogosphere, particularly this quote: "Looked at through children's eyes, the miniature Hummers are just toys, not vehicle recommendations or a source of consumer messages about natural resource conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.". Among the bloggers outraged by the post were Matt Fried, who voiced his displeasure over McDonald's stance on their blog last week in the comments section for this post.

But now Fried has a new reason to be upset. On Thursday, he posted on his blog that he was still waiting for his comment to show up on the McDonalds blog. As of this writing, that post still has no comments.

Of course, that doesn't prove anything. But given that this is such a hot-button issue right now, the fact that there are NO comments showing up on the McDonalds blog at least suggests to me that McDonalds is very slow in approving comments left on their blog.

But what if McDonalds really is censoring comments on their blog? Jackie at Church of the Customer adds: "it appears McDonald's feels more comfortable in controlling the conversation than engaging in one.".

Of course, McDonalds can't control the conversation. Sure they can choose to censor comments on their own blog, if that's what they are doing, but doing so won't stop the conversation, it will simply move it to other blogs. This is why companies need to understand any type of social media before they start using it. If someone at McDonalds said 'Hey I know....if we get some negative comments about the Hummer Happy Meal promotion, we can just delete them and that way no one will talk about it!', then someone working with them that DID understand the blogosphere could add 'Oh bloggers will definitely talk about it, just on their blogs, not yours.'.

So to any companies out there that are thinking that they can join the blogosphere, but on THEIR terms, you can't. The rules of the community apply, and if you can't accept these rules, then you'd do best to stay out.


CK said...

Do you also feel these principles apply to bloggers who don't allow comments (not just companies, but bloggers)? While I allow and encourage comments, I'm just curious as to your take.

Mack Collier said...

It's funny because I just listened to the Across the Sound episode where Seth was on, and they played David Armano's audio comment asking Seth about why he didn't allow comments on his blog. Seth gave the answer that IMO he should have given from the start, he said he didn't allow comments on his blog because he didn't want to deal with spam comments, and commenters that leave comments simply to try to instigate an argument.

That explanation, I could buy. I think if a blogger is going to block comments on his blog, then he has to be willing to accept a certain level of criticism for doing so.

Personally, I think the same principles apply to bloggers. There are very simple ways to deal with spam comments, and you can never have everyone agree with you. And again, the commenters here such as yourself are far too intelligent for me to think that I can afford to stop giving them input here.

Not allowing comments might be a tradeoff that some bloggers are willing to make, but I'm not one of them.

CK said...

Thanks Mack. Personally, I wouldn't receive half of the value from blogging if I didn't invite comments--and read the comments on others' posts.

As for companies, not allowing/inviting comments is just poor form. Thanks for the good post (and for always inviting comments).

Kim Klaver said...

Mack --- interesting new position Seth has taken. First he didn't want comments because it would be too much work to correct all of them in their views...

Or did I misread that?

Mack Collier said...

Exactly CK, if I couldn't have other bloggers commenting here, for me much of the value of this blog would be lost.

Kim you are correct, that was Seth's original reason for not allowing comments.

Laurence-Helene said...

This clearly shows that McDonalds (amongst other companies)are not trying to understand (do not clearly understand??) their customers. Aren't blogs supposed to be an interactie way of sharing ideas: you post, I comment? :)

Saying that McDonalds should be allowed to censor abusive comments. We all know that McDonalds food is unhealthy - 'Supersize me' perfectly demonstrated this.

Easton Ellsworth said...

Thanks, Mack. I'm doing a post series on Fortune 500 corporate blogs right now and I'm struck by how many problems these blogs are having. Many are simply a lame excuse for a conversation. The McDonald's blog is actually one of the better big corporate blogs I've seen, and that isn't saying a whole lot.

david armano said...


I love the visual!

(good post too)

And actually, I believe that Seth's true reason (which he didn't mention in the podcast) was that comments messed with his head. Mack, he said the same thing in a response to one of your comments somewhere.

I thought that was his most honest response. And I can respect that (though I don't agree with it)

Now McDonalds on the other hand is not a person with feelings. They are a company, so they need to really think about how they want to proceed here.

McChronicles said...

Everyone at McDonald's is welcome to join the crystally-clear, transparent, and open discussion over here at The McChronicles.

Hey, maybe they are the ones behind the many ANONYMOUS comments we receive.

Anyway, comments on McDonald's are unfiltered and unedited in our McDonald's-related blog.

Diana said...

McDonald's is spending a fortune on proving how eco-friendly they are and not completely destroying the planet, now they come out with a promotion for a vehicle that is the exact opposite of the message they're trying to send.
Of course Hummer vehicles, especially Hummer limo are fascinating, but such promotion of two different spheres are not advisably.