Google Sidewiki is PR Game Changer

The gig is up.  Any client who thought they could escape social media is now in it, whether they like it or not. Google Sidewiki, launched a couple of days ago, is a PR game changer – it exemplifies, perhaps more than any other application, how social media has infiltrated all communication and can undermine any PR strategy that does not consider social networks.

Here’s how Google spins it: What if everyone, from a local expert to a renowned doctor, had an easy way of sharing their insights with you about any page on the web? What if you could add your own insights for others who are passing through? In other words – what if Google can turn everybody into a content producer and then rank and control all that content?

Google SidewikiNow they can, and they will.It means that on this blog page you, or anyone with an easily installed Google Sidewiki app, can write notes that are then visible to anybody else. The general public – adversaries, friends, competitors, your nephew - can enhance your web page without your consent or knowledge.

This is what it looks like (left). In a way, every web page is now a blog, with unmoderated comments open to everyone.

Google will somehow rate these Sidewiki comments, through one of their mysterious algorithms, and present the most relevant first. You Sidewiki comments are then stored in your Google profile.  Sidewiki comments can be Tweeted, emailed, Facebooked.

So, my buried Google Sidewiki comment “Mark Rose is a big fat idiot,” follows this blog forever, and can be blasted out through other channels. Only Google could come up with something this insidious and mind blowing. Google Sidewiki is ready for Internet Explorer and Firefox, soon for Google Chrome. Download Google toolbar with Sidewiki.

What does this mean for public relations?

It means that all clients are now IN social media, whether they know it or not. Google is further connecting social media channels and controlling major social networks, such as Blogger and YouTube.  This is further proof, if we needed any, that a PR strategy that does not include social media has a huge hole in it.

Three questions to ask:

  1. What’s your social media PR strategy?
  2. What’s your Wiki strategy (Wikipedia, Wikimedia, Google Sidewiki)?
  3. What is your social media news creation and delivery mechanism?

These can seem like esoteric questions but just asking them moves you in the right direction. The primary function of PR is no longer “How do I get the media to cover me?” It’s now “How do we impact our audience through our own media?” Google Sidewiki further re-defines media, when anybody can ‘report’ their opinions and facts on any web page, or words, phrases, or sections of a web page. What makes this frightening from a PR perspective is that all this content is subject to Google’s ever-changing algorithms. It makes Google the most-powerful social media company out there.

From Google: In developing Sidewiki, we wanted to make sure that you’ll see the most relevant entries first. We worked hard from the beginning to figure out which ones should appear on top and how to best order them. So instead of displaying the most recent entries first, we rank Sidewiki entries using an algorithm that promotes the most useful, high-quality entries. It takes into account feedback from you and other users, previous entries made by the same author and many other signals we developed.

Comments

  1. Jenny Mathis says:

    Once again, Google’s ahead of the game. There are already those out there who are afraid of this and want to shut it down. Perhaps they should think about using it to better their marketing, and look on the positive side. There’s relatively little that can be done about it, anyway. I think this could be huge and another turning point in how we surf the web. It could also be an unwelcome distraction at times to surfing, however.

  2. I think Sidewiki is definitely a game-changer, but not in the way we’re thinking or hoping it will be. I just posted on the potential dangers such a tool would offer to those who might choose to use it irresponsibly. As marketers, PR Pros, and Advertisers, the temptation is great and there’s certainly a lot of positive ways to use sidewiki to benefit our businesses and clients.

    However, As Excited I Am To See Google Sidewiki’s Potential Actualized – Unfortunately, As Marketers Have Done With Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, (MySpace – Remember Her?) And Every Other Facet of “The Social Web,” I fear that Sidewiki provides yet another means for those who just don’t ‘get it’ to exploit the system and barrage us with broadcast, branded, messaging.

    I’m Not a Luddite. Far From It. But I don’t think the world is ready for such a powerful weapon.

    Until now, this usurpation of online communities and the manipulation of our fundamental human desire to generate content and share information has been limited to custom-tailored (if we’re lucky) invasions of specific platforms or desperate attempts at creating their own.

    Sidewiki, has, without a doubt, an enormous potential – one to utterly destroy any limitations or barriers on the “information sharing” currently allowed by the internet. We’re looking at the possible information exchange of exponential proportions. Unfortunately, I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be the tool that unlocks the whole of the internet to the pervasive, abusive tactics of irresponsible marketers.You know the type – the ones who build facebook pages that collect dust and twitter accounts that auto-follow and auto-DM promotional messaging.

    I sincerely hope that Google has developed, within it’s algorithm, protection from this parasitism but I fear that these individuals, for all their irresponsibility, have one talent, namely, circumventing those protocols. Take a look at this video – What stops me from using sidewiki to just hop from site to page to blog, highlighting portions of text and promising readers further explanation, only to lead them elsewhere – a deceptive practice that seems to be aligned today’s spammy zeitgeist.

    I do hope I’m proven Wrong. I Hope People use it responsible and Google has measures built in to prevent people from abusing the tool. We’ll see…

    (Full Post – http://aerocles.wordpress.com/2009/09/23/the-dangers-of-google-sidewiki-brand-invasion/)

  3. christian says:

    I dont quite think so. The Google Toolbar wanst a game changer and do not know a single person who has the Google Toolbar installed…or the Yahoo Toolbar. This might work seamlessly with Chrome but I am not going to slow my Browser down with redundant searchforms for Google. They missed the point.

Trackbacks

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  7. [...] I am a bit late to the game with comments on Sidewiki. (It launched more than a month ago.) A student in my Ryerson University reputation management class gave a presentation on it the other night which got me thinking that the debate about its influence on public relations has been thin. Surprising really given that some, like Mark Rose, believe Sidewiki “is a PR game changer”. [...]

  8. [...] I am a bit late to the game with comments on Sidewiki. (It launched more than a month ago.) A student in my Ryerson University reputation management class gave a presentation on it the other night which got me thinking that the debate about its influence on public relations has been thin. Surprising really given that some, like Mark Rose, believe Sidewiki “is a PR game changer”. [...]

  9. [...] Google Sidewiki is PR Game Changer | PR Blog News – Here?s how Google spins it: What if everyone, from a local expert to a renowned doctor, had an easy way of sharing their insights with you about any page on the web? What if you could add your own insights for others who are passing through? In other words – what if Google can turn everybody into a content producer and then rank and control all that content? Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

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