Wetpaint Wikis: The Consumer is In Control
Last week I had the pleasure of an in-person briefing with Ben Elowitz, CEO of Wetpaint, the leading provider of consumer Wiki technology. He opened with a story that illustrates how the consumer is increasingly in control:
CBS was one of the first big brands to embrace the customer facing Wiki model and when they cancelled the show “Jericho,” fans went crazy on the official Wiki site. The site was already experiencing rapid growth, but when the show got cancelled, the Wiki community powered by Wetpaint exploded with huge increases in the number of comments, edits, new users, page views, etc. Consumers even created a “Save Jericho Coalition” including a group of websites dedicated to getting Jericho back on the air. As a result, CBS announced earlier this month that they have ordered more episodes of the series. Nina Tassler, President of CBS entertainment, even posted a message on the Wiki that closed with, “Your protest was creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone. You made a difference.”
This is such a great example of how Web 2.0 is changing everything we know about consumer marketing, including how much viral power consumers now have online. And as I always point out, consumers carry these learning and action plans into the workplace with them, meaning B2B companies also need to heed the rising consumer influence.
OK, let’s step back a minute. Based on the number of questions asking “What is a Wiki?” during a recent KM 2.0 webcast, clearly this nascent online collaboration technology is still new to a lot of people. A Wiki is a website or similar online resource which allows users to add and edit content collectively. Legend has it the word ‘Wiki’ comes from a Hawaiian-language word for ‘fast.’ The best known Wiki is Wikipedia, the online Wiki encyclopedia.
But as Ben was quick to point out, Wetpaint Wikis are a different breed. The best example of that for me was that Wetpaint offers a complete WYSIWYG editor for posting and editing in the Wikis. If you have ever tried to master wikitext, an HTML-like markup language, you will understand why I still have not added my 2 cents to the Wikipedia listing for CRM. I don’t think you should have to learn a new coding language in order to contribute to a Wiki. (And to be honest, my last real coding class was for DYL-280 CICS in 1994, and even the MySpace HTML editor confuses me.)
According to Business Week Online, Wiki technology is also finding a home inside companies. Sony’s Playstation team, for example, uses a Wiki to provide product development updates to executives. Wikis are replacing previous ‘work group’ functions like everyone editing a shared MS Word document.
Wetpaint has some amazing brands among their customer base, including entertainment, media, publishing and technology companies. CBS has created Wikis for their most popular TV shows, including the various CSI incarnations, Survivor and Amazing Race, and even one for the new Pirate Master (which personally I think they can safely cancel without any audience uproar). On the technology side, consumers and corporations have launched Wetpaint Wikis for many recognizable brands, such as the Motorola RAZR, T-Mobile Sidekick, Xbox 360, iPhone, Apple TV and Treo.
Wetpaint is fully OnDemand, so pricing includes a standard setup fee and monthly charges based on number of customer page views. (The Wetpaint service is free to consumers who want to start their own Wiki.) Revenue share agreements are also available if advertising is placed on the Wiki. Wetpaint Wikis are also very flexible, able to handle many of the same features and functions commonly associated with blogs and message boards.
Check out some of the Wiki links on the Wetpaint site and see the many different approaches companies and brands are using. Also, notice how multimedia plays a big role (video, graphics, music). This is the new way to reinforce your brand, collaborate with customers, and gage immediate reaction from customers on any news or product. And MUCH cheaper and faster than organizing a focus group!
How do Wikis fit into your vision for customer self-service? Add a comment or drop me an email. Thanks for reading!