Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is Google Sidewiki Brandjacking?

I've previously covered the topics of Brandjacking and Google's Sidewiki tool on brand sites. However I have recently considered whether the use of Sidewiki on a site could actually be considered Brandjacking...

Firstly, for those to who don't have the Google Toolbar installed on their favourite browser, I realise that you won't know what I mean... so here's a video to explain Sidewiki's functions:

So how could Sidewiki be Brandjacking?

Well, it now allows anyone to comment on any page on your site and therefore to say what they like (yes, I'm aware there is a complaints policy, but I'm not aware of any company that has done this successfully yet). It therefore is scary for those brands that don't facilitate user-generated comments and discussions, but is also a problem for those that do!

As Jeff Jarvis pointed out back in September about this:

So now in the Sidewiki, there’s a parallel discussion going on, separate from [commenting functionality]. There’s no opportunity to respond in threads. I have no control over the content associated with my site essentially on my site. What has been added? Each of those people could have and normally would have commented right here.

It therefore creates a separate channel for alternative conversations to take place on a website. However this is an argument that's not restricted to Sidewiki. Other services such as FriendFeed have removed conversations to entirely different sites for some while now (with little complaint), something Matt Cutts from Google is happy to point out.

Hopefully some clever person is already working out how to include Sidewiki comments into common blogging platforms (perhaps even Google - via their Sidewiki API) or commenting services such as Disqus. This would make finding, tracking & responding easier for everyone, including those that allowed comments on their site... and may even encourage a few more to do so.

So... is it Brandjacking?

In my opinion its not... but what it may be.. is a catalyst in making more brand site owners aware that they don't entirely own the online channel and that their advocates and badvocates now have a chance to say what they like and perhaps its time to join in!

Post a Comment