Google Sidewiki: The Dust Settles

Google Sidewiki

This post continues our week-long theme of communication, with tips and guidelines on how to reach consumer communities.

By Sven Larsen (@zemoga)

What can Google’s Sidewiki teach us, more than six months after its launch?

Perhaps, mostly, that even in the fast-paced world of social media, time will tell – and we should let it.

Opinions were certainly rampant about Sidewiki at its launch. Impactiviti’s Steve Woodruff suggested that it could be a game changer.Pharma Marketing Blog’s John Mack disagreed, saying it was no more than a public health nuisance. ePharma Rx’s Wendy Blackburn called it a whole new dilemma.

The ability of any denizen of the Internet to post a public comment on any website they wanted was akin to legalizing graffiti. Would it be a threat to civilized society? Would it be an opportunity for conversation? Would it be yet another repository for spam?

A few weeks later, AstraZeneca posted an official webmaster note in their Sidewiki entry, as noted by Eye on FDA. Most other corporate and product sites, however, chose to go for the ostrich-in-the-sand approach, neither posting on their Sidewiki entries nor commenting on the existence of Sidewiki.

Pharma is castigated for the way it sometimes staying stubbornly on the sidelines of social media. This time, however, it was the right thing to day.

Like some other of Google’s less killer apps, the Buzz has died out. The Wave has broken on the shore (get it?). Sidewiki use is pretty minimal, and its impact on pharma is correspondingly minimal.

The long-term verdict on Sidewiki won’t be here for a while. It hasn’t really caught on – but with a few tweaks to circumstance or functionality, who knows? It still could.

Regardless, the last six months have been educational. Here’s what we’ve learned.

  • New technologies have the ability to turn our communications (and regulatory) paradigms on their head, even if they don’t always catch on.
  • Wait-and-see is sometimes the right response.
  • Change is possible. Communications decisions and regulations will keep Sidewiki in mind and expect the unexpected. How will you adapt when connections that aren’t possible today are tomorrow?
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