Have you seen this new site Brands in Public? They are aggregating comments from around the web and intend to create thousands of web pages, each one highlighting the online buzz focused on a corporate brand (example: Starbucks), in hopes that those companies will pay for the opportunity to manage/influence the conversation publicly.
Some have expressed concern about the fact that the Brands in Public team has assembled these pages before actually signing anyone up to
manage them… companies feel that they’ve been “brandjacked” (though the pages do seem to communicate clearly that they are unofficial sites). Today, they’ve announced that they will be removing the “sample pages”, so presumably will display only pages of companies who have signed on.
It doesn’t seem all that different from what Get Satisfaction does already (example: Starbucks), except that Get Satisfaction doesn’t charge company representatives for the opportunity to get involved and present an “official” company voice. However, Brands in Public says that the paid participation gives brands the ability to “edit the introductory text, highlight the tweets and posts you like, point to your blog, your videos, your twitter feed, your corporate website and even (if you like) highlight ways to contact you.” It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and if these sites retain a perception of credibility, even with companies manipulating the conversations.
It sounds a lot like extortion to me, but it’s certainly a clever idea. As pointed out in this article on adage.com, how well these pages rank in search results will likely have a large role in whether many companies come on board to participate.