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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. That 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.

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital

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