Power of the Crowd? You Better Believe It

Ann All

What's your take on the so-called Web riot that occurred on digg.com when the site attempted to stop its users from posting some sensitive encrytion information?


Maybe you haven't given it much thought. Well, maybe you should. If you peek outside your corporate ivory tower, you're likely to see some masses assembling just outside the doors -- and you better hope they aren't angry.


While wide open dialogue with customers can unquestionably be a good thing, it can also be pretty scary, as digg found out. In a less extreme example, Dell recently capitulated to customer demand for PCs with pre-installed Linux, an idea first aired on its IdeaStorm Web site.


Sure, Dell's move looks mostly positive for the company at this point. But it could have unintended effects on Dell's revenues and its longstanding relationship with Microsoft. It's worth noting that the company resisted the idea at first.


Companies are experimenting with offering reviews and other consumer-created content online. The transition to the new consumer-controlled model has been awkward for some, to say the least. Wal-Mart, for instance, hired PR flacks to masquerade as bloggers who were supposedly visiting Wal-Mart stores during a cross-country trip. Naturally, the retailer was outed and widely panned on the Internet.


"You have to keep an experience on the customer's terms," advised CRM expert Paul Greenberg in an IT Business Edge interview. "Your customers are empowered enough to know what they need. That's not always in the best interests of your business. The trick is to balance your company's needs with the customer's needs."


Like we said, pretty scary.

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May 4, 2007 7:24 AM Blake Cahill Blake Cahill  says:
Ann:Nicely said. I did a similar post on the Digg story this week and the growing influence of social media. Blake CahillVisible Technologies Reply

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