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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.

Meghan Keane

Published 23 September, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

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selina howells

Brands need to ignore social media and focus solely on serving customers then social media looks after itself. It cannot be done any other way.

almost 7 years ago

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Craig Killick

What happened to permission Seth? This seems tantamount to blackmail. They create the page where bad comments are collated and you have to buy control at $400 per month.

I am a big fan of Seth Godin, but for all his righteous rants, actions speak louder than words.

On an aside, I think Squidoo is a clever idea, but, I never actuall have the need (or want) to use it for reference.

almost 7 years ago

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selina howells

Agreed, it is blackmail but it will be ineffective. Consumers will rightly distrust it. They are capable of discerning what to trust. There's something about the internet and the way it physically distances you from your customers that has led businesses to forget the first rule of profitability, deal direct with your customers, do not invite other businesses to get inbetween you and your customers. The one exception to this is Google if your business  needs more than repeat business and word of mouth to make money.

almost 7 years ago

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Steve Fair

When agencies work with us (we're a new business agency) it tends to be successful. When it isn't, there's always a reason or set of reasons that cause the breakdown. We're as proud of what we've learned from our failures as we are of our chest-puffed-with-pride successes. I certainly won't be paying Seth to control our lens (similarly he hasn't written anything genuinely original since Purple Cow (and that's lacking in real substance in places (oh and Seth, I'll stop saying that for just £200))) because the point of feedback, comments and the instant gratification of the internet is that it should encourage us all to improve. Not to pay $400 so we don't have to.

almost 7 years ago

Jonathan Moody

Jonathan Moody, Freelance at Language4Communications

An interesting idea. With the fear factor thrown in and social media marketing savvy and enough cash to push it, a few brands just might stump up $400 per month. 

However, there are a number of tools providing similar on free or paid basis, uberVu being a good example.

What's more, if there is any reasonable level of conversation then you're going to need somebody/ies to follow up complaints, praise, recommendations, queries, suggestions, factual inaccuracies etc. Will subscribers get information structured this way? Will it cover multiple languages? Will it differentiate different markets (especially those with a common first language)? Will it it rank visibility/influence of opinions?

On an another level, if you want to extract insight for action in marketing, communications, customer service/engagement, product service development/improvement, stakeholder relations you're going to need someone and/or a tools/service to do that not to mention buy-in and a change in mindset across all the aforementioned functions. Your $400 per month is just the beginning....

almost 7 years ago

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Phil Spencer

I thought Seth Godin had lost it when I read about his plans for Squidoo. Encourage people to clog up the web with data about data, adding an extra layer into my journey from search to information? Not only that but monetise it so there is the incentive for people to compete for clicks - which will inevitably lead to "salesy" lenses with potentially less that accurate descriptions.

Well as it turned out I've never seen a squidoo lense page as a search result, which is interesting in itself.

There isn't much new about this latest idea, there are plenty of websites / services that allow you to aggregate content from several sources, albeit you may have to enter idividual search terms rather than there being a "page" for each brand already. It'll be interesting to see how it takes off.

almost 7 years ago

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