Controlling what people say about you on the web and in social media is an impossible task, but Seth Godin's Squidoo has a plan to help brands focus and filter their online reputation. For a price.
Starting today, Squidoo, the online community that allows users to create pages — "lenses" — on a variety of topics, has launched a service called Brands in Public, where it will create pages for brands populated with scraped content from blogs, Twitter, Facebook, news sites, forum posts and a whole lot of other places.
If brands would like to control their content on said pages, they can. For $400 a month.
If companies care enough about the Brands in Public forum, they will pay up.
Godin writes on his blog:
"If your brand has any traction at all, people are talking about you. Of course, they've always talked about you, but now they're doing it in writing, in video and in public."
So he created the site:
"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."
Squidoo is providing a forum for brands to monitor, control and influence their reputation online. But rather than letting brands set up their own pages, Squidoo is doing it for them and dangling control over the site for the $400 monthly fee.
If that price sounds like a threat, it is. If Brands in Public becomes a space where people go to learn about brands, it would be in a company's best interest to influence the way they're pictured there. It's up to them to decide if it's worth paying Squidoo $4800 a year to influencethe way they look in the space.
Of course, companies can do any of this on their own site or blog or platform. But the info gathered at Squidoo will continue on with or without their input. And if they care at least $400 a month about what people on Squidoo think about them, they'll fork over to control how it is shown.
One bit of fine print brands might be interested in — according to the FAQ, Squidoo will take down brand pages if asked:
"Sure, if you ask nicely. Up to you. Your fans might be disappointed though."
"Your fans" won't be the only ones.