Google’s SideWiki – keeping us on our toes to respond
I have a client, sad to say, that would prefer to be removed from Google results and especially Yahoo. This is because they have a lot of bad feedback, comments, rantings. I did my job and got them high rankings, traffic – exposure. This has resulted in more venues for unhappy clients of theirs to sound off. We have tried to combat with positive feedback received. We don't post anything that isn't true. It isn't enough to fight this battle. The client didn't like my solution: be better at what you do.
We should be accountable, not to the gadflies, but to our customers and listen to their feedback. If they are consistently unhappy with the same issues, those issues need to be addressed and responded to. Be proactive, be responsive. Do something with the valuable feedback now available everywhere on your company.
Once a person is signed up (and anyone can
— it's part of the Google toolbar), he or she can comment on any page
and see comments from others on those pages. Google uses an algorithm
to decide which comments go at the top. And Google, not the site owner,
decides which content must be taken down because it's inappropriate.
The web is full of whining from site owners
about how this space, out of their control, is not fair. Get over it,
folks. Regardless of whether it is fair (since when is the web fair),
you'd be better off learning to deal with it. This is quite similar to
what StumbleUpon and Delicious enable, but, because it's from Google and it's more visible on pages, it's a bigger deal.
Two questions and answers.
One, will it catch on? Yes. It could take a few years to get big, as
Twitter did, but because it's on Google's Toolbar, it has a seductive
interface (a little tab on pages with comments) and can become viral.
As users spread it, it's going to grow.
Two, what should marketers and site owners do? First, claim your site. Second, monitor and respond to comments. (With the Sidewiki API available, it will likely soon be built into tools like Radian6.) And third, add your own social features — now.
If you add social features, such as ratings and reviews,
comments, and forums to your brand site, your media site and your
blogs, they'll be far more convenient for visitors. They'll generate
discussion, but discussion you can moderate to your own standards. And
if the interesting discussion is on your site, people won't be
compelled to comment with Sidewiki.
It's likely that Microsoft will build similar features in its
browser, and Yahoo and Facebook may also dive in. But Google has the
first-mover advantage. If you're smart, you'll start monitoring this
activity now, while it's small. Don't say we didn't warn you.
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