Power to the People? Google introduces SideWiki
Yowza! I just came across the announcement for Google’s SideWiki, which appears as a browser sidebar and makes it possible for users to comment on any website. For those organizations that have been reluctant to engage with their customers via social media or are determined to control the conversation, guess what? Here’s another clear indicator that that ship has sailed. Customers can now enter comments at your site, whether you give them the means to do it or not. Hoo boy! (Although Sidewiki doesn’t appear to work for our City/Library website right now – I will have to investigate further).
What are the implications? Well, as Jeremiah Owyang points out:
Customers trust each other more than you –now they can assert their voices “on” your webpage. Every webpage on your corporate website, intranet, and extranet are now social. Anyone who accesses these features can now rely on their friends or those who contribute to get additional information. Competitors can link to their competing product, consumers can rate or discuss the positive and negative experiences with your company or product. Yet, don’t expect everyone to participate –or contribute valuable content. While social technology adoption is on the rise, not everyone writes, rates, and contributes content in every location, likely those who have experienced the product, influential, or competitors will be involved. Secondly, content created in this sidebar may be generally useless. To be successful, Google will need it to look more like Wikipedia than YouTube comments
More reason than ever to engage with customers in every way you can. You can’t control the conversation, but you can participate.
As a sidenote, I was interested to see that Google is releasing this first for Firefox and IE, rather than Chrome. Are they shooting for widespread adoption right off the bat? Or is it because they’re working to integrate it more fully with the Chrome browser (it’s part of Google Toolbar for Firefox and IE)? I will be very interested to see how this develops. [via Web Strategy]