If you have a website or blog, then you are going to want to read this. If you don’t have a website or blog, go get one now and then read this because a social media game changer hit the web recently and you need to know about it.
Social media is quickly forcing companies to be more accountable, provide better service and start listening to everything their customers want and need. In the past, a customer complaint, suggestion or idea was usually funneled through multiple channels where, in many cases, it disappeared completely. Now – with social media – ideas, testimonials, suggestions and especially complaints, get heard almost immediately – by everyone. This forces companies to be proactive and also much more responsive with every issue their customers have, good or bad.
With the advent of sites and applications like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and now, Google Sidewiki, customers have more power than companies. They are the ones who can determine what should be provided and how high service and quality standards need to be.
What is Google Sidewiki?
Yesterday Google announced the release of their new social media component called Sidewiki. In a nutshell, Google Sidewiki allows people who download the Google Toolbar to their Firefox or Internet Explorer browser to comment on any web page of any website they wish. The catch is that anyone with this Google Toolbar installed will be able to see, read and add their own comments to any website as well.
Watch this brief 60 second video from Google that showcases how Google Sidewiki works
How to Use Google Sidewiki
Google Sidewiki, like most of Google’s products and applications, is very easy to install and use. Here are step by step instructions on how to get started:
(2) Once the toolbar is installed, simply click the Sidewiki button in the toolbar
(3) After clicking this button, a sidebar will open on the left hand side of your screen
(4) From here, you will be able to add your comment and publish it for all to see
NOTE: You will need to be signed in to your Google account. If you have multiple Google accounts, then make sure you are signed into the correct one or else your comment will be posted under the wrong account for yourself (yes, I learned this the hard way).
(5) Once your comment is posted you can share it via Twitter, Facebook and email. Your Google Sidewiki comments will also show in your Google Profile.
Effective Ways to Leverage Google Sidewiki for Any Business
Now that you know what Google Sidewiki is and how to use it, we want to provide you with some very useful recommendations to leverage it to help your business.
#1: Be Proactive
User generated comments and content are fantastic as they create interesting conversations about your business. However, in order to get these types of conversations going it is necessary to light the fire yourself. The content on an existing site or blog may be enough to spark these conversations that will quickly accumulate in Google’s Sidewiki, but for sites that don’t evoke this type of conversation you may want to PROACTIVELY POST COMMENTS ON YOUR OWN SITE yourself to get things going. Even a simple “welcome” message from the business owner may suffice.
#2: Be Responsive
Yes, social media can be time consuming, and many times addicting. And yes, Google Sidewiki is yet another thing you will need to monitor as a business owner. Bottom line is that you have to accept this and embrace it. If you don’t others will comment at will anyways and if you fail to respond or take too long to respond then you could be opening yourself up for public criticism and complaints. RESPOND TO COMMENTS IMMEDIATELY to show that you care about your visitors and what they have to say about your business.
#3: Be Interesting
This really applies to anything you do on the web as anything less than interesting, new, or different is not enough to engage people. Hopefully the content on your website is enough to entice people to start a conversation about your business, but if not then take advantage of Google Sidewiki to PROVIDE INTERESTING FACTS, INFORMATION AND INSIGHT on your business to get people to interact.
#4: Be Authentic
One of the most annoying things in social media is when someone just simply regurgitates information from other sources. Spend the extra time to think about, plan out and implement a strategy of getting great content and comments onto your Sidewiki and when you do ADD UNIQUE INFORMATION to create the right type of buzz your business needs to gain exposure.
#5: Be Genuine
If you truly want to create a strong, positive following on your website or blog, then you must be genuine. With the introduction of Google Sidewiki you can expect your business to get called out if it does not come off as genuine and truly interested in the wants and needs of its customers. Show your website and blog visitors that your business is truly genuine – POST COMMENTS THAT TELL YOUR STORY AND HOW YOUR BUSINESS CAN TRULY HELP SOLVE A PROBLEM.
Leverage Social Media, Don’t Let it Leverage You
Social media activity increases everyday. The fact that there are over 500 million users on Facebook and Twitter alone tells you that your business must have a presence on these social networks. Participation creates conversation and conversation creates community. Get your community going by taking advantage of the fantastic tools out there, like Google Sidewiki.
Do you have any other ideas, suggestions or concerns about Google Sidewiki? We would love to hear them. Please just leave a comment below, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment via Google Sidewiki.