Updated: Eating Humble Pie
Campaigns And Shiny Objects Are Kosher Again

Evil or Genius?

Here's the model:

  1. Build a community site where people can rate, review or otherwise rant about brands.
  2. Prepopulate the site with popular brands, particularly those with customer service challenges or those that already engage in social customer service.  This will drive people and brand engagement.
  3. Recruit people to rant on your site via targeted media, pr and outreach to bloggers.
  4. When people complain, reach out to brands to request their engagement.  The community demands it!
  5. As brands offer service, position yourself as the platform where brands actually engage.  What a selling point to potential users!
  6. Offer brands premium options like tracking dashboards, featured comments and reviews, technology to integrate into the brand website, or license content and the platform for digital media (showcasing great comments).

It's Evil

These schemes/companies force brands to do what they are probably already doing elsewhere in social media: engage and provide customer service.  With a number of these sites popping up at once, brands are faced with resource challenges.  Staffing allocations, coordination models and technologies to track and engage with all of these environments become increasingly complex and expensive.  The resources to meet these new sites don't exist, and it's not fair to expect brands to keep investing.

The brand is already participating in the dialogue on Twitter and Facebook and their blog, and others blogs etc. At a certain point, isn't is incumbent on the general public to at least meet the brand halfway?  And who does this newcomer think they are to demand all this of the brand?  They are building their business on the brand's dime!  People are far more likely to complain than compliment.  It's extortion!

It's Genius

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. People have a right to great customer service, and without fifty thousand followers on Twitter many are still being ignored by the brand.  This levels the playing field.  If the brand has a great reputation, they will do well.  If they don't, it is incumbent on them to fix it by engaging openly and honestly.  Don't blame the messenger.  Would you blame Twitter?  Don't blame me!  We are providing a public service.

What do you think?

If you were a brand, what would you do when confronted with one of these startups?