October 4, 2022

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Seth Godin’s Squidoo Has An Eyepatch

Seth Godin’s Squidoo Has An Eyepatch

squidoo.pngMarketing guru Seth Godin has proven once again that everything “new” about Web 2.0 is old again.

His latest venture, Brands In Public, is essentially a rebranding of his Squidoo service with a very important twist.

These Squidoo lenses are for sale.

Essentially, Godin has created an engine whereby he can build a page that aggregates “the conversation” and “the buzz” and the “online chatter” about any public brand or company. All of these results are built on automated searches, and are freely available. They are built on existing open RSS feeds and are not illegally scraped.

But what Godin is doing is sinister, because he’s using the power of SEO to bring these public comments and statements into a single page, that he will sell you for the low price of only $400 per month.

You see, “Brand-X” can currently sit back and watch complainers and whiners air their beefs for free. “Brand-X” can even engage with those customers on an individual basis, using whatever tactical or strategic bent that benefits their business model.

By bundling the conversation, Godin believes he is performing a public service. Oh, and for the low, low price of only $400 per month, “Brand-X” will be allowed to take control of the left-hand 60-percent of the screen content area, to better “respond” and “join the conversation.”

Godin thinks this will be a good thing, allowing companies to address concerns without doing so in a personal fashion.

I call it piracy. Not the download-songs-from-Kazaa variety, but rather from the Brand Hijacking variety.

Under Godin’s nomenclature, the page would be called squidoo.com/brand-x-in-public. He’s already generated the pages for top brands in that fashion.

Ask yourself this: What if Twitter had launched its service, but had reserved major brand names for itself? What if Twitter decided to use twitter.com/starbucks as an aggregator of Tweets mentioning Starbucks – then offered to sell the account to Starbucks?

What if Automattic decided to sell off branded subdomains: ford.wordpress.com or mcdonalds.wordpress.com? In those instances, squatters or others who misrepresent their identity get their accounts pulled. (I know this firsthand, because I petitioned the WordPress folks directly to get redcross.wordpress.com for American Red Cross disaster relief, after a squatter had tried using it for bogus fundraising.)

Even worse, in his announcement Godin makes the following statement:

I’m guessing that big brands are going to need to be in dozens of places like this going forward, because media has shifted from top down, “here’s what we say, we’re putting on a show, watch us!” to, “oh, you’re here, you’re talking, hi.”

We’re still in the early groping of discovering how people and organizations communicate with each other on the internet. But this is not new.  It’s a form of squatting and piracy, plain and simple.

Unless I am wrong. Tell me what you think.

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  1. @carakeithley

    It is interesting how when I first came to social media, Seth Godin was portrayed as a god. It is also interesting to see as social media develops, how I keep realizing that Seth insults us more than he helps us. In just the past few weeks, he has insulted non-profits and now is hijacking brands and “selling” them the conversation back at a hefty price. ____I understand that many people are looking to monetize the space, but what people like Seth risk doing is making the conversation irrelevant. Manipulation can come in many forms…comment seeding, paid blogging, perks and incentives, blackmail and threats.____What Seth Godin is doing is trying to undo the good that has come with social media, all in the name of profit. It’s just one more reason that I don’t follow him and I don’t read his blog. Because I don’t care. The only reason I pay attention to him at all is because so many others do…and I know that he influences a great many opinions. But just like the influential radio talk show hosts, his influence makes him neither rational or right. I may listen, but I am not obligated to agree.

  2. John F

    It isn’t worth 5 dimes to the ‘brand’ if no one visits the squidoo page to see their 60%. That $400 would be better spent listening to social media themselves and participating where they can

  3. sh4rKb8

    Pay Seth or else … what? Brands hardly need a glorified squidoo page (oops-scuse me– LENS) to assess the “conversation” about them. And Godin isn’t nearly the first to do this – kind of sounds like BuzzLogic.

    whatever – I’m no fan of him either, but it’s a bit overly dramatic to label him as evil for this. The whole “social media” movement is BS anyway. It’s like telling people they need to pay you in order to teach them how to use air.

    get over yourselves

  4. @Shel

    This reminds me of Yammer. Yammer does what it does well, but it’s business model is sinister: “Your employees can start having Twitter-like conversations that can’t be seen by anybody outside the company, but if you want to archive these conversations (a regulatory requirement) and manage them, you need to pay us.”

    Sharkbait misses the point. With Godin’s creds and Squidoo’s SEO (it has, as Danny Sullivan pointed out, a respectable PageRank of 7), people may well bookmark a brand’s lens — er — Brands In Public page. It could become a resource to media covering a company or activists following it. (Imagine what the labor movement will do with the WalMart page.)

    I’m with David Faulkner on this one. Godin’s intentions may have been honorable, but it’s extortion, plain and simple.

  5. @shel

    Oops…self-flagellation over the punctuation faux pas. I started to write “but it’s using a sinister business model,” changed it but failed to delete the apostrophe. Horrors.

  6. Jason

    One must face the facts, as new areas of media become a viable business tool then small companies are going to spring up and offer to help the larger companies navigate the waters. It is no different the early media companies offering to gather every piece of TV, Radio, or ad space and congregate it in one file and give to a company. Large companies would always rather pay someone else to do something than do it themselves. Hell, most companies could hire a coder for about 5K and have them create a website and program that would do the same thing and then manage it on their own. Who care’s what Godin’s intentions are – fact is if people will pay for it them someone will offer it to them. Why not Godin?

  7. @nikolas_allen

    I disagree with the haters on this one. I fail to see how Squidoo’s new venture is “sinister”, “hi-jacking” or “extortion”. It’s not like these companies are tied to a chair in the basement with a gun to their heads. They still have a CHOICE.

    The way I understand it, Brands in Public is merely another OPTION for companies to “join the conversation” via the aggregated page IF they wish to pay $400 per month to do so. If not, no biggie.

    “The Conversation” will still go on regardless of whether Brand-X chooses to pay Seth or not. And if Brand-X chooses NOT to pay for this service, they can still monitor the web on their own and be responsible for their own PR, spin control, or crisis management.

    Seth Godin is a Big Idea man. This new service is yet another of his Big Ideas; one which will probably make a good amount of money. That doesn’t make him a villian, that makes him a savvy businessman.

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