Since the announcement of Google Sidewiki, many visitors have read my original post titled Google Sidewiki impacts your Customer Satisfaction Strategy. This blog post will cover additional information on Google sidewiki:
1. Reactions to Google Sidewiki
2. New Information about how Sidewiki is being used
3. Tools to track Sidewiki comments
4. Tools being offered to Block Sidewiki entries
Reactions to Google Sidewiki
1. Some web owners are most upset that they no longer own all the space on the browser when a customer accesses their webpages. There was much angst about the fact that the webpage owners were paying for this communication and that there was a loss of control over what the customer could see.
2. There is a real fear that there will be only negative comments left on Sidewiki (a reputation management nightmare) though that is clearly NOT what Google was intending. The intention was for the community to self regulate, in a similar way that Wikopedia was set up with multiple authors and reviewers keeping the authors ‘honest’. There is much concern about the potential for competitors to post something that counters your product or services promotion and steer a prospect to their site (and away from yours). There is fear of blackmail from competitors or spam operators, ex spouses or lovers, or damaging comments about your kids by bullies or even a cruel joke. See a Talk-Biz News article with more details of downside effects of Sidewiki.
In defense of Google, they say they have advanced algorithms to remove abusive comments if you complain to them, but it is in their control, what they leave on your site and what they remove, not the website owner. They also control the timing of how fast they remove abusive or offensive comments.
3. There is a concern that the mega bucks spent by companies to create a design on their website and sales pages will lose its value, when a Sidewiki pane with a different ‘look and feel’ than the sales page is presented at the left, where most people start reading (left to right). However any user with Google Sidewiki installed has to be signed into Google, and must click on Sidewiki on the browser tool bar to see the Sidewiki pane. It does not ‘automatically’ come up when a user goes to your site. They may see a little tab on the top left corner and they have to click on it to open it to see Sidewiki comments associated with that page, if any.
4 I have seen some reviews that accepted the intention of Google to provide feedback and will take steps to welcome the feedback from visitors. See this site that defends Google.
5. It isn’t clear from the articles that I have seen that everyone is aware that the owner has the right to the top real estate of the Sidewiki pane and their message is static and stays at the top, so, a response to possible negative comments could be included in the owner’s section and updated as needed.
As you can see there are many pros and cons to this new technology and the best practices and realities will emerge over time. Company strategies will need to evolve as Sidewiki use evolves.
New Information about how Sidewiki is being used:
1. Some sites will not accept Sidewiki comments. I found a site on IBM electronic services where Sidewiki comments were not accepted. I consulted the link Sidewiki provided and it appears that a SSL (https) encrypted site is not supported by Sidewiki. So any site on the web that starts with ‘https://’ won’t allow a user to leave Sidewiki comments.
2. A comment on Sidewiki can have one or more links in it and the links can be just ‘anchor text’ which means a user doesn’t get to see the actual URL being directed to unless they look at the bottom of the browser to see where the link is pointing.
3. A Sidewiki entry can be written in any language. I found an english site where a sidewiki comment was written in another language. Companies will need to have ‘transations’ made of the Sidewiki comments made about them, if they are not in the language of the site owner.
Tools to Track Sidewiki Comments
1. Google provides a list of Sidewiki entries. Search on site:google.com/sidewiki/entry. There are 2230 entries as I write this article and when I refresh the page, the volume is going up. If you add your company name at the end of the phrase (eg for Microsoft … search on site.google.com/sidewiki/entry Microsoft), the entries for that string will appear. Sometimes some are hidden and this message comes up and you have to click on the underlined section to see all the comments.
In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the ‘x’ already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.
At first I only saw a few entries for Microsoft but when I clicked on the underlined section, there were actually 15. When you go to the site, you may find more.
2. There are some services that provide Sidewiki comments to users One example is Radian6 is a service that searches the web, blogs, social media, pictures, videos and now Sidewiki and provides reports. This is a fee service. There may be more services like Radian6 so if you know of any, please comment on my blog below and I will update this post.
3. Kutano aggregates Sidewiki and twitter comments relative to a site a user is visiting, a different way to see what users think of a page they are visiting.
I am sure more services like Radian6 and Kutano will emerge over time. Feel free to comment below so I can update this blog post.
Tools being offered to Block Sidewiki entries
As you might expect, there are technical wizards all over the web who take on a challenge. There are now Sidewiki blockers available on the web. I cannot tell you what techniques were used or how effective these are but if you do a Google search on Sidewiki Blockers you will come up with some fee and some free ones. I found a Marketer’s Board site that aggregates some of the blockers currently available. Scroll down to the comments section of this post as there are additional Sidewiki blockers listed there.
Clearly Sidewiki is a controversial new technology on the Internet. As a customer satisfaction professional, I always believe it is better to listen to your customers and respond in an appropriate manner. Sidewiki has its benefits to offer your customer satisfaction strategy and some potential drawbacks. I welcome your observations, comments and suggestions and any best practices you are adopting.