If you are a big brand name, you’ll want to hurry over to http://www.squidoo.com/ and see if you now have your own “dashboard” or “Unofficial Water Cooler” page on their server. If so, I definitely want to hear your thoughts.
Yesterday Advertising Age reported on Seth Godin’s new “Brands in Public” online aggregation system. It essentially takes Google content and some social media feeds (worth noting that all tweets and feeds do not disclose the screen name of the poster) and puts them into a dashboard. Seems harmless enough, right? Well, if you are one of the “hundreds” of brands now with an unofficial page – and Trader Joe’s is one – you may have a different opinion.
The Trader Joe dashboard was highlighted in the article so I naturally “had to see it.” The best I can tell, the real menace on the Trader Joe’s site is MeganCasey. As editor-in chief of Squidoo, she has commented in two separate areas of the Trader Joe page. Perhaps it’s because she’s an avid shopper and her feedback is sincere; I’m sure she does think: “This is a really cool dashboard of Trader Joe’s info and comments. Nice to see it all at a glance. Thanks for putting it together!” But isn’t that a bit self-serving since it is her company that created this unsolicited “dashboard” using the Trader Joe’s brand? The reality is each time this page is updated with a comment, including those by MeganCasey, the Google rank for this page increases.
I’d like to hear what Andy Sernovitz, founder of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) thinks about the ethics of these dashboards. It would be interesting to hear from someone at TEKgroup, who could provide counsel to both Squidoo and the hundreds of affected brands about why RSS feeds aren’t always the best way to “showcase” of your coverage. And I’d like some of the great BurrellesLuce clients and PR minds to share how they would advise a client about a “ready made” dashboard.
It’s also worth noting that if these dashboards are a great service to brands, why isn’t there one for “Squidoo” or “BzzAgent” (the two companies responsible for the concept and content)?
Has Squidoo upset the balance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as we know it? Or simply found a way to extort $4800.00 a year from public relations practitioners trying to be good stewards of their brand?
UPDATE: This morning Seth Godin sent out an “Adjusting as we go” post about the reaction to his “Brands in Public” idea. He stands behind the concept and positions it as a way to help brands and non-profits “be part of the conversation.” I’ve long been a fan of Seth Godin and respect him, so maybe this is just guerrilla marketing. After all, if he gets one hundred of the brands to send him a check that’s $480,000.00 to stream unfiltered RSS feeds. GENIUS!