Brands In Public: A New Reputation Management Tool

If your company matters to people, they are talking about you.

There’s nothing particularly new about this; this has been the pattern for hundreds of years. However, one difference with the advent of social media tools is that people are now able to talk to dozens, hundreds or thousands of other people instead of the few they used to.

There are plenty of tools to help companies listen to what people are saying. While I often talk about Radian6, there are plenty of other tools out there, both free and professional.

Today Seth Godin’s Squidoo launched a new service named Brands In Public.

As Seth says:

You can’t control what people are saying about you. What you can do is organize that speech. You can organize it by highlighting the good stuff and rationally responding to the not-so-good stuff. You can organize it by embracing the people who love your brand and challenging them to speak up and share the good word. And you can respond to it in a thoughtful way, leaving a trail that stands up over time.”

Brands In Public provides an online dashboard that pulls together the latest news and conversation about a brand from sources such as Google Blogsearch, Google News, Yahoo! News, Twitter, BackType, Google Search Trends and Quantcast.

Where Brands In Public gets more interesting is that if a company decides it wants to sponsor its company page (for $400 a month) it gets control of about 2/3 of the screen real-estate on the page. It can highlight blog posts, run contests, post videos or whatever it likes. In case of an issue, the company can quickly respond without needing any technical skills, the ongoing maintenance requirements of a blog, or IT’s go-ahead to create a new page on your website.

All the time, the regular searches continue in the right-hand column, uncensored and unfiltered.

So, while the Molson page features a Twitter search, the Molson blog and a quick poll on how people feel about the brand, the Allstate page includes YouTube videos from various channels along with content from multiple blogs (disclosure: Molson Coors Canada is a recent client; Allstate Canada is a current client).

There’s nothing complicated about Brands In Public; in fact Seth takes pain in his post announcing the service to note that it’s deliberately simple. “It’s simply a place for your brand to see and be seen, to organize and to respond.”

A few thoughts from me:

  • The interface is clean, friendly and easy to use.
  • Right now there’s no search function – the pages seem to be limited to a scrolling list. Presumably this will change as the service is built out and the volume of pages increases.
  • The FAQs indicate that the service will remove a company’s page if they request it. However, as they note, “Your fans might be disappointed though.” What’s more, the lack of a comprehensive list of companies may inhibit the growth of the service.
  • If brands haven’t yet invested in a social media presence, they’re unlikely to make this their first step due to the lack of control of the searches. To those who have already invested, they don’t need this presence as they’re already out there.
  • Brands In Public provides an easy way for companies to be part of the conversation – an entry level solution – but at a premium price. As TechCrunch noted, $400 per month is a pretty hefty price point for a series of automated searches and a few dashboard modules.

What do you think? Is this a useful tool for brands?

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  • Thanks Dave, for the overview. As for the cost, I think the three questions are:
    1. can you/should you build this yourself? No doubt any company could, but I wonder if it’s worth the effort.
    2. how much does it cost compared to the alternatives? For a brand spending money on media, the cost is negligible. In fact…
    3. it probably costs more to decide to do it than it does to pay for it. The cash flow from our sponsors makes it easier for us to give organizations the development and support they’d like.

    Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for.

  • Thanks for your thoughts, Seth. Good points – especially in relation to media buy costs.

    I agree that, as a deliberately simple solution (meant in a positive way), the companies likely to look to Brands In Public are likely those who won’t want to develop their own version.

    Interested in what everyone else thinks…

  • Interesting yes.

    Will it catch on? I don’t know. I’m betting no. Squidoo’s interactivity and ability to navigate and crawl through it give the perceived appearance of a wikipedia knockoff.

    I think that it will be useful, but not to a large amount of people.

  • I’m intrigued by it myself. In a busy day it serves as a really great snap shot aggregator. Yes we use Radian6…and I won’t dispute the tremendous utility of Radian6 but this squidoo aggregator is easy to access, quick to review and allows the ability to engage…love it…now I just need to figure out it’s fit and how we might adjust. My first adjustment is likely to make it a Molson Coors snapshot to capture enterprise wide conversations. Cheers Dave @MolsonFerg

    • Ferg – the ease of use certainly is attractive. One draw-back of other monitoring tools is that for it to work to its fullest extent, you need to go in-depth. Otherwise, they’re just expensive search engines. The flexibility of Brands In Public for brands does certainly appear to be a plus, too.

  • I like the thinking behind this a lot – free, USEFUL tools are always good in my book — especially tools that are useful for multiple reasons. In this case, users get the latest news/comments, brands can engage and monitor.

    The only issue I saw was that it seemed, at times, difficult to tell which pages were sponsored, and which weren’t — and exactly what content the companies could control. Granted, I was just poking around and perhaps it’s simply not clear to the casual browser. Brands in Public might need to tweak with that slightly. Transparency will be important if users are going to take advantage of this – no one likes being sold something unless they KNOW its being sold.

    @anwmo

  • We are a young company that sees the value in being part of the discussion rather than keeping an eye on it. We have paid social media marketing firms tons of money with little results. Four hundred dollars a month is a bargain! We did approach BzzAgent to do a campaign and it was loads of money. For a little brand like TTFR it wasn’t feasible then and it isn’t now. In our opinion, why wouldn’t you participate?

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  • At first blush, I don’t like it at all. Aggregated content vs. curated content holds little value for most people. I’d be inclined to recommend to my clients that they ask for their page to be taken down and to monitor how the site evolves before agreeing to participate in any way. I don’t like the whole negative option vibe to it.

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