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:
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.