Take Trafigura, for instance. This is a company whose name was unknown by most people until it was propelled into the news headlines a few weeks ago as a key protagonist in the gagging the Guardian debacle.
The screenshot above shows Trafiguraâ€
There are two comments as you can see, as could anyone else in the world on the internet with a browser that has Sidewiki installed. The two comments you see are pretty innocuous; factual rather than opinion.
Trafigura can also comment if they so choose. Indeed, as a site owner, they have first call on a comment that is linked to their site, which would appear before anyone elseâ€
And so what should organizations do about Google Sidewiki?Is it something to be alarmed about, seeing it just as a threat, another example of diminishing control?
Good questions, similar to ones that I discussed with Ged Carroll of Ruder Finn in a PR Week Video Podcast, published last Thursday and embedded below (RSS subscribers: if you donâ€
I liked Gedâ€
As I said in our conversation, I do believe Google Sidewiki presents organizations in particular, as well as opinion-makers, with more opportunities than threats (and, yes, there are some).
I reckon the biggest threat is ignoring sidewiki comments, in a sense pretending theyâ€
One point about comments left by people. To start with, you can only leave a comment if you have a Google account and if youâ€
From a commenter’s point of view, connecting with his or her profile is good for demonstrating your credentials as all your Sidewiki comments are aggregated there as well â€“ a central comment repository that connects you to all the places where you left them.
So as Iâ€
Meanwhile, get to know Google Sidewiki. Maybe thatâ€
From an organization point of view – and this mostly means from a monitoring point of view â€“ mainstream will be when tools like Radian6 include Google Sidewiki in their broad measurement and analytics offerings.
- The Hobson and Holtz Report â€“ Podcast #487: September 28, 2009: includes discussion about Google Sidewiki on the day its release was announced.
Talking points on Google Sidewiki for PR Week Video Podcast discussion
Neville Hobson, Head of Social Media Europe, WeissComm Group, London.
October 20, 2009.
1: What implications do you think that Sidewikis may have for brands?
- Opportunity: another means of enabling anyone with an opinion, including your customer, to give you feedback.
- Disruptive: anyone could, in theory, make any kind of comment about your brand, good or bad.
- Recognize that Google Sidewiki is yet another tool for engagement.
- Recognize, too, that it’s also potentially further scattering of conversations on the web, so finding effective means to track all of it is important.
2: Do you think that it’s going to be a threat or is it overblown?
- It illustrates that another genie is out of the bottle concerning control of information and conversations. There is no control, only participation.
- Some will see it as a threat, undoubtedly. After all, anyone could leave a comment in a sidewiki on your site, with no permission from anyone to do that, nor waiting for any comment approval to take place.
- Others will see it as innovation, another way of moving the semantic web forward. That’s how I see it: a positive addition to the channels of engagement on the web, unruly and engaging though they often are.
- I can see some issues of concern in regulated environments such as the healthcare and financial services industries. How would you address comments left by people that might run counter to some regulation? Would regulators regard such comments as an integral part of your website and perhaps penalize you? Etc.
3: Have companies now lost control over their own websites?
- I don’t think so. Look at it as an opportunity to find a new way to engage with people who are interested enough in your online content to use Sidewiki to comment.
- As with all interactive communication channels, you’ll pay close attention to what’s happening on your website so you’ll see whenever Sidewiki comments appear that will help you determine what you need to do.
4: How should they use the tool to enhance engagement with people?
There are a number of things you can do. For example:
- Carefully monitor comments on the sidewiki so you’re aware of what people are talking about and the sentiment of comments and, thus, be better informed on what issues/topics interest or concern people.
- Leverage services like SidewikiRSS which lets you create an RSS feed of any page’s sidewiki comments.
- Consider writing a publisher comment on your own site. Such a comment by a site owner will always be the first comment you see in a sidewiki on a given website. There’s an element of perceived control in that, too.