Really curious what others think about this…and I guess even more curious if anyone would share their experiences using it!!
If you are "Tag Drafting" me, you already found this article in The Seattle Times from about a week ago. It talks about a local company, Visible Technologies as a company to watch. I’ve quoted a big chunk of the article by Brier Dudley here as I think it’s a good intro…
"Visible is monitoring every place that people can submit comments online and copying the conversations into a massive database.
Discussions are mapped, influential people are identified and Visible’s software then helps clients engage in the conversations or directly contact the influencers.
…Its other major product is a search-optimization tool that companies and several local billionaires use to influence how they appear in search engines’ top results.
…If a blogger badmouths the Hummer, for instance, the system could notify GM. Within the console, a PR person can draft a response, inserting key points, then get approval to post or e-mail the nettlesome blogger.
Clients pick an "author" or opt for anonymity. Visible also has a virtual army — thousands of personas registered with online forums.
Graziano said the idea is to make it easier for companies to respond and participate, but it’s up to clients to decide how the tools are used.
"This is a communication tool," he said. "It’s not a pull-the-wool-over-anybody’s-eyes tool."
It makes you think twice about the authenticity of conversations in the Web community. It’s also a reminder that you have to think critically about all media, new and old, online and off.
The technology can also backfire, if the users go too far and come across as inauthentic participants online, said Forrester Research analyst Peter Kim.
"In the end," he said, "the authentic voices win out: the human voices."
In an earlier post, I asked if "?" In that post I questioned what affiliations (and therefore risks) your brand takes based on what comes up with it when users search for you. And what you might do about these risks. Then today, from the Visible Technologies web site I quote:
With more than 90 percent of consumers now relying on Google, Yahoo!, MSN Live, and AOL for information, what people see when results are returned for your brand and employees can have a major impact on your reputation and business.
Let’s think a little about the services Visible is offering (TruView and TruCast) and let’s assume they work brilliantly (this is an assumption, I have no idea: I guess if they use their own products, they could make a point by demonstrating that they found my little post about them here.)
TruView: Reputation management service for organizations, brands, companies and/or people designed to "ensure that fair and accurate information is correctly ranked among the top 20 results on each site when people search for your company, products and services, or executive management team."
hmmm. Well, I can’t help but think that "fair and accurate" is often NOT aligned with what an org, brand, company or people want discovered first. Who decides what is "fair and accurate?" - the users or the company? And what steps does the service take to deliver on this product promise? Dangerous but interesting ground. I could sure see politicians and celebrities using a service like this and potentially with fair intent. I could also see this used to the extreme in ways that really damage the utility of independent user communities - critical voices marginalized.
TruCast: Online Conversation Marketing solution. Harvests all the user generated conversations about "you." Identifies and categorizes the conversations, identifies Influencers and directs/orchestrates your participation/response process.
To be sure, I don’t think there is any real shortcut to engaging in "your" communities. However, I would be really interested to see how this worked. The concept here I think fits very well with insight capture discussed in an earlier post. And of course I am a huge proponent of influencer detection and engagement as a cornerstone of community strategy development. I’m not sure I like the examples used to describe this service as they feel very marketing centric and I fear that if your community engagement is about marketing response to online conversations about "you" then you are in trouble. Those responses generally only benefit YOU and not your users, so the balance is not right - and therefore your community strategy is defensive or controlling vs truly participative. But, this comes down to how you use the tool, not the tool itself.
I guess in debating if this is good, bad or it depends, I almost see this like a weapons manufacturer. The weapons themselves are neither good nor bad - it depends on who ultimately is using them and for what purposes. I really hope to learn more about this to share later.
A few other companies with related products or services: Buzz Metrics, Neboweb, Digital Vigilance, icrossing.
del.icio.us tags: web2.0, online, social, community, o’driscoll, drafting, visible, buzz, reputation
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