Markets are supposed to be conversations, according to the Cluetrain. But does anyone own that conversation?
I started thinking about the question earlier in the week when the 37Signals Get Satisfaction spat kicked off. Who owns all those critical or positive questions about a brand anyway? IS it really Get Satisfaction? Or perhaps its Twitter? Here is Google selling Adwords to Intuit through Twitter? Confused yet?
Does RedMonk own mentions of RedMonk? I would said of course not! But what if that mention included a RedMonk logo? Ah that’s a little more difficult… then.
To be honest my problem with Get Satisfaction is a lot more prosaic, if certainly related to the issues above. You see there is a guy called Steve Ivy, nicknamed redmonk. When we launched the firm I decided that the nickname was Ok, given he trades under Monkinetic, although his URL is redmonk.net. Steve is a really nice guy. I have tried at various times since 2002 to stop calling himself redmonk, but its of course his decision.
That said as business and personal have increasingly intermingled on social networks, things are getting more and more uncomfortable. That is- Steve got @redmonk on twitter first, which is Ok. A little more annoying, when I first tried to use Get Satisfaction it quickly became apparent it wouldn’t work for us, because any perception and mention crawling engine was going to throw up an awful lot of false positives. It doesn’t help that Steve is interested in a lot of the same open source and development issues we are.
I think our RedMonk is bigger than Steve’s redmonk (well there are four of us after all!), and Google basically concurs, but the twitter thing does make me uncomfortable. You’re probably chuckling at this point – those guys at RedMonk think they are *so* smart, and they didn’t even get @redmonk…. well I am guilty as charged.
But nicknames, brands and tags are all converging. The whole notion of IP protection becomes ever more complicated. Our answer is to look for friendly ways to deal with stuff. Clearly many brands have a different approach.
A while back I said if markets are conversations then twitter is money. You can see why Facebook doesn’t want Google spidering its users’ sentiments. Twitter is more open, which is a powerful position, but also allows for embrace and extend tactics.
Don’t even get me started on the Terms of Service that allow these web apps to think they own what we say and do. But I am increasingly wondering whose conversation is it, and whose money?