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Will Sidewiki Become an OEM or Dealership's Worst Social Media Nightmare?

Google just released a new technology they call Sidewiki. It allows anyone who installs Sidewiki on their browser to read and add comments to any website (requires Internet Explorer 6+ or Firefox 2+, for now.) A side panel that can expand or contract sits on the side of the browser window. Comments in the Sidewiki window are unique to each website and are viewable to anyone with the technology installed on their browser.

Social media strategist Richard Stacy explains the technology best in SocialMediaToday, “Because this is linked to the browser, the site owners themselves have no say here – you can’t opt-in or opt-out. At one level this could be a move which forces every website into the social media space – whether they like it or not.”

I thought about this technology and immediately became concerned about all of the vendettas people have about their poor experiences with a particular brand, car and dealership. Now people can instantly share their disgust with your brand and products as long as you have a website. You can’t turn it off, you can’t delete their comments and you are now instantly part of the social media party whether or not you want it.

Take for instance a person who owns the car I own – a 2007 BMW 335i convertible. He started a website called that covers his ownership frustration with water coming through his convertible top. Now he can go to BMW’s website and his dealership’s website and share his frustration with everyone who visits these web pages. Provided someone has Sidewiki installed, they now may avoid that dealership or that product and move right on to a competitor simply because of this one person’s issue or worse if many people have a similar issue with a vehicle, everyone now can voice their frustration collectively on that brand’s own website’s Sidewiki.

I did a test to see how this would work and added a Sidewiki complaint to a dealership I bought from over 10 years ago. As you can see, in the image that leads this story, it is quite easy to share one’s frustration and leave negative feedback (note: I deleted the comment after taking the screenshot for this story.) Not an unusual problem in social media, but now I can do it right on that dealer’s website and they have only a few options: ignore the comment, defend what happened in their own words, or hope others will come to their defense.

The most frustrating part for a dealership (or any commercial website) is that now no one has to search for feedback by reading various blogs and digging deep into search results. In fact, a site is probably using media buys to drive people to their site and now this drives them to all of the Sidewiki commentary too.

Now anyone with an issue can raise that issue right on the company’s website and the minute there is some sort of Public Relations fiasco, just think how bombarded a site will get with Sidewiki comments?

It’s a new world out there and every website now has public feedback turned on. Sidewiki is very new and it may not develop as I am outlining it here, but my guess is that we will see this technology spread. What will be interesting is to see how brands respond and if Google will eventually have to pull the plug or change functionality (like allowing sites to disable Sidewiki functionality.)

Source: [The Automotive Marketing Blog]

Views: 53

Tags: Dealer, Dealership, Media, Sidewiki, Social


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Comment by Christopher Baccus on October 9, 2009 at 9:59am
Not much activity yet with SideWiki. I agree with Steven that it will take some time for non-bleeding-edge types to adopt its use, plus some sort of PR issue blowing up could cause some serious commentary. Like other social media discussions it is important for brands to use tools to track discussion, just don't be fooled that a lot of people are talking about your brand. A lot of social media types will try to sell you all kinds of tools and then you find out no one is really talking about your brand.

Comment by Steven Moore on September 30, 2009 at 5:31am
This will take some time to expand into a regular user option for many other than the bleeding edge types.But still faster than folks will expect. People are commenting more and more online and many companies are building platforms, widget and other tools to start to aggregate these comments also. Who has checked their Yelp, Google,Yahoo, and others comments?

This makes the case even stronger- if you are not using social business tools to listen to what folks are saying about you - now is the time.
If you don't know who your customers are that are online and starting a conversation with them - now is the time.
If you don't listen to what your customers really want and deliver it even if that means changing the way we do business here-now is the time.
Now is the time to also build systems to handle these issues- who handles these online customer service issues- how do you leverage your community of customers to help you do it? Does your dealership have the guts to get ahead of this or just give it a head-fake? Instead of fear put it up front and take it head on with a social business strategy that aligns with your marketing and business processes and changing those that are not working. WOW all of that just to sell cars-yep. Those dealers that excel at customer service can take those skills and power it up online, those that suck at customer service will either change or will see major league headaches and issues. What fun and exciting time we are in... All with a sidebar wiki what is next? :-)
Comment by Keith Shetterly on September 29, 2009 at 12:56pm
Take a look at the ditch a large corporation like Time Warner is in:

Comment by Keith Shetterly on September 29, 2009 at 12:28pm
If Google can divorce it from their toolbar or slim down their toolbar, you can expect this to see quite a bit more popularity--and, regardless, it may become a browser feature rather than an add-on. Just wait until somebody with some level of even local or regional twitter notoriety leaves a comment and then tweets about it . . .
Comment by Chris Hanson on September 29, 2009 at 6:06am
It looks interesting for sure but its funny how a Google product says:

Sidewiki is currently a feature in Google Toolbar (in Internet Explorer and Firefox), but we are working on bringing it to Google Chrome, too.

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