Friday, 25 September 2009

Brands under fire, beware Google Sidewiki

Google quietly released a new social tool this week called Sidewiki . Sidewiki is an addition to the Google toolbar, so far, so innocuous. However this could possibly enable the most visible feedback online brands have yet to face.

The Google Sidewiki toolbar allows any user with a Google account to comment, on any page, on any site (and of course I though I'd have a crack with Natwest). It effectively means users have the ability to graffiti corporate sites. Google say they are monitoring comments and have provided a reporting tool if posts are deemed malicious, however if the criticism is constructive, instructive and therefore destructive then the implications are massive.

Over the course of this year there has been a greater and greater demand for brands to listen from consumers, technology companies, agencies, in fact too many voices to list. In a way it's been convenient for companies to ignore it. If it's all going off on Twitter, or Facebook or “some blog” then it's out of sight and therefore out of mind (of course this an absurdity). What Sidewiki does though is bring it to the doorstep and now anyone can graffiti all over your front door. Now it's already been declared dangerous and doomed to fail and simply a way of Google monetising the whole web, but this is a Google beta product and it'll inevitably change and over time integrate Google's other features. And in the meantime the comments are going to start cluttering up the doormat and they're going to be difficult to ignore.

This kind of interwoven peer to peer feedback is the future of the web. It's going to force companies to change the way they operate so once again with gusto. Start listening and start taking heed.

So Natwest can you get back to me on this one.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Could Apple survive without Jobs?

Steve Jobs crash landed back in San Fransisco on Wednesday with a new liver, some new products and instantly breathed new life into Apple. His speech immediately sparked a rally in the company's share price and earned him a standing ovation from his employees. However it begged the question could Apple survive without Steve Jobs?

It's a question that has raised its head many times since his well documented health problems came to light. Commentators have suggested they simply can't see Apple fans flocking to the Apple keynotes without the charismatic frontman. However it looks like Jobs may be planning for succession, he's clearly still not fully fit and although he's back it's almost certainly not full time. So however long he remains he now has the opportunity to transform the company from a one man show to a vibrant employee led organisation (a bit like Google maybe).

There is an obvious need for Jobs to develop a second in command however the way the company embraces social media is becoming a key issue for customer engagement. Apple hasn't run with the pack when it comes to social, they have been notably absent from conversations that they should have been contributing to and unless Apple employees are empowered to start involving themselves and emerge from Jobs' shadow the brand can only sustain it's reputation for so long. Social media needs engagement from brands and Apple ignore it at their peril.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Twitter under pressure

Since its launch in 2006 Twitter has been bombarded by negativity (yes there’s also been a huge amount of positivity as well) from the tech community and on the whole they’ve carried on with business as normal, but is it now time to listen?

Twitter has come under constant fire since its inception. It's been accused of being unstable, being irrelevant, having no reliable long term business model, that it appeals to oldies and teens just don't tweet. However, each time the criticism is levelled the management team remain steadfastly silent in the main, they don't react but instead point to the numbers - and the numbers can't be ignored - at the most recent count there are over 30 million online users globally and that's just those that are accessing Twitter via the web. It doesn't include those accessing the myriad of applications that utilise Twitter's open API. This week however E-Consultancy published a blog relating to what Twitter needs to do in order not to fail. There are some fundamental criticisms of the view, however how long Twitter can remain on it's single minded mission is questionable.The social networking category is beginning to consolidate and develop additional functionality with which Twitter simply cannot compete. There are other models developing out there that are increasingly challenging Twitter so it may well be time to get off the pot.