Toolbars, Add-ons, Plugins, etc al. whatever you call them, for whichever browser you are using, they have long been used to extend the capabilities of your browser and add additional functionality catered to your unique user requirements. On Sept. 23rd Google launched Sidewiki, a new tool in their popular Google Toolbar for IE & Firefox.
The idea behind Sidewiki is to allow users of the Google Toolbar to create comments on any page – on any website – on the Internet. It is creating another layer to your website (as a webmaster) you might not know about. The intentions of Sidewiki are of course benevolent in its roots but of course people will eventually learn how to exploit it or leave damaging comments about your business for other Sidewiki users to view.
Lets take a look at what is already in the Apple.com Sidewiki. Head over there yourself if you have Sidewiki installed or here are a few samples.
As a website owner you may have been reluctant to join popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, so on and so forth because you were unsure of how to handle the social interaction with consumers of your products or services. With Sidewiki the social web has been thrust upon you and your hands are tied. You must begin monitoring your Sidewiki comments (if any) and interacting with Sidewiki users. In fact, Dell is already doing so:
I am not surprised by Dell’s ability to quickly jump on board and be visible in their Sidewiki because they have been quite successful at leveraging social networking sites to drive actual revenue. In June they released that Twitter helped produce over $2 Million in revenue for Dell.
The socialization of the Internet has happened, either you are aware of it or you are not. If you are not, you have some work to do. As a business you have be engaging and interacting with your customers. So, get out there and try it on your terms because as we see with Sidewiki, sooner than later you are going to be forced into it.