[link here for YouTube]
On September 23, Google announced Sidewiki, a feature on the sidebar of Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers that will allow you to contribute content to any page of the Web. Which means that companies can now stop having meetings about whether to open the comments to their blogs or not - and whether to legislate them. With Sidewiki, visitors will be able to share what they think with each other anyway - and right on your Web page.
Still think you can sit this one out?
Perhaps you're thinking that you are understaffed for this. If monitoring and listening is already on your radar, this will probably introduce a whole new challenge to both companies that sell monitoring tools and of your staff assigned to listening. Customers, partners, even competitors could potentially be part of your conversation - within the comforts of Sidewiki.
There's been plenty of conversation over Siedewiki already. Jeremiah Owyang gives us a quick dive from the customer seat, and my networks both on Twitter and Friendfeed have been abuzz with the news - and possibilities. People are checking it out and talking about it. All of a sudden, anyone can contribute relevant information and opinion to a Web page.
This is game changing on a variety of fronts:
- social - this is first and foremost a social application
- your customers may add information you shared on a personal basis, in an attempt to be helpful to their peers, or to clarify something you display on the site from their point of view
- if you remember Forrester social technographics profile, you will know that many will probably be inactive - they still might be reading what others write, however and those who tend to be active are often very active
- cross reference that behavioral inclination with the type of social profiles as outlined in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, and you now have connectors, mavens and salespeople all doing what they do best on the sidebar
- find dimension not only in depth with links, but also in breadth - now visitors to sites can check out a new layer of comments and conversations, one not hosted by your Webmaster
- now more than ever relationships and experience from coming in contact with your brand will matter - they will be in public
- Google search juice - Andy Beard took it for a spin on SEO and compiled a list of questions
What do you do next? I say test it. Find out how it works, how you'd use it. No sense hiding your head in the sand. Take it for a spin and think through some of the applications you would envision with it. Many predict it it won't be a hit.
Lively discussion over at BuzzMachine. In case you were wondering, comments are voted up. You know that spammers will join in only when and if it works - and it may not be worth the trouble for Google if it doesn't. What do you think?
UPDATE: some really valid concerns were brought up in the discussion on Friendfeed. As for comments on the Sidewiki... so far, it looks to me like a way *not* to be part of the conversation, coming from left field (the comment displays as a left bar near your blog). My preference is to be part of the conversation, and not to have my own little soapbox somewhere else.
SECOND UPDATE: Google steals the Web is a sobering read. Aside from being visual graffiti, I'm thinking there will be painful lawsuits to precede its demise.