Squidoo founder and author Seth Godin has backed down on creating company pages by default as part of their new ‘Brands In Public’ service that launched a few days ago. The idea behind the new service is that brands are able to track feedback from customers on a public ‘lens’ (aka. a web page).
Feedback is aggregated from multiple sources, but mostly twitter and mostly by matching against the brand name. The concept itself is not an evil one, but Squidoo setup feedback pages for over 200 brands at launch without the express permission from the vast majority of them. The hitch was that if a brand wanted to control the lens and the feedback, they would have to pay Squidoo $400 a month – and it was that part of the deal that made a large number of people rightfully angry.
Godin says in a blog post today that they will remove the brands they created by default, and instead make the program opt-in. This is a big step back from yesterday where he left a comment on an excellent blog post by Lisa Barone, who criticized the product as being ‘brandjacking’, by saying:
I’m not sure it’s brandjacking any more than a Google search or a Twitter search is brandjacking. I guess the difference is that we’re making it really easy for the brand to show up next to the stream of comments.
Godin has built a reputation, on the back of his books, as being a marketing and community guru. He must have read some of his own work overnight because today on his blog he says the policy has changed to:
When a brand wants a page, we’ll build it, they’ll run it and we’ll both have achieved our goals.
Godin opens his post today with:
The response from the brands we’ve shared it with has been terrific, but other people didn’t like elements of it. And they were direct in letting me know.
Well we know he didn’t hear that ‘direct feedback’ using Squidoo’s own ‘Brands in Public’ page, which during the storm yesterday conspicuously didn’t mention a single point of negative feedback about the campaign.
Godin also does not have comments enabled on his blog, but the launch of the new Squidoo service just happen to time with the launch of Google Sidewiki – which allows users to leave notes on a website. Many flocked to Sidewiki out of frustration, including SearchEngineLand editor Danny Sullivan, and left constructive and well thought out arguments against ‘Brands In Public’. It is ironic that the ‘customer feedback’ for a product that is meant to aggregate just that all came from other sources such as sidewiki, blog posts, twitter and comments on blogs.
We were going to reach out to Godin yesterday, but instead figured we could write this story by aggregating what everybody in the world thinks of Squidoo, and then asking him to pay us $400 to remove the parts he may not agree with.