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Still Wondering How Your Customer is in Control of Your Marketing? Check Out Google’s New SideWiki.

Last week Google launched SideWiki, which allows people to contribute their thoughts or comments on any webpage. That’s right. ANY webpage on the Internet. Google SideWiki appears as a browser sidebar, where anyone who has subscribed to it for free, can read and write entries along the side of the page.

Women communicate, connect and share. They are going to simply LOVE this. I think Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter summed it up pretty well on his blog when he said,

“Google is turning the whole web into a social network.”

This means anyone will be able to comment on YOUR website for everyone to see, and there is very little you can do about it – except be prepared. If you have not started participating in the social space, I suggest you get started today. Your customers have beat you to it. And now they own your website. While there have been applications out there before now that allow for this capability, Google is positioned to take it mainstream and rapidly. Some great advice from Owyang:

Develop a social strategy with dedicated resources.
With every webpage now potentially social, you’ll need to develop a process, roles, and policy to ensure you’re monitoring the conversation, participating as you would in blog discussions, and influencing the discussion.  80% of success is developing an internal strategy, providing education before a free-for-all happens with customers and employees.

There are a lot of questions remaining as to how this will all pan out. Who will police the inappropriate comments, what posts will appear on the first page, will competitors actually place their logos on your page? But for now we will seemingly find out in real time as it is up and running on Internet Explorer and FireFox browsers, with Chrome expected out soon.

So, it is no longer a choice as to whether you are going to participate in Social Media Marketing, now the question becomes are you going to respond appropriately and effectively?

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Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email
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2 Responses

  1. Stephanie, there are elements of this that trouble me.

    First, Google has manufactured a no-opt-out comment system for every page on your site.

    What’s worse, you have no notification when someone leaves you a scathing message. NONE of the Sidewiki elements are currently RSS-enabled, so there’s no way to monitor this “brilliant new conversation” unless someone manually goes there every couple of hours.

    Do you think the people who use SideWiki are going to be forgiving of a company that isn’t hip enough to know about SideWiki yet?

    There are companies that because of legal and regulatory concerns are strategically choosing which venues in which to participate. Google “dragging them by their nose-rings into social media” sounds really swell, but the laws and charters governing many of these organizations have not caught up with technology.

    It seems like a great way for Google to encourage more people to use its toolbar. And yes, I am in favor of open dialogue, but I’m not sure this is the system for it.

    • Ike, thanks so much for your comments. I agree with all of your concerns. I am a little fearful that those who will benefit from this the most are attorneys. Meanwhile, I do feel the best thing a company can do is be as prepared as possible in the social space.

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