We talk a bit around here about the new dialogue that happens between companies and their customers – and between the customers themselves. Things are definitely changing out there – and I don’t think anyone’s really debating that anymore. Participate or get out.
What I’m enjoying right now is the proliferation of the satirical online personality and the conversations these folks are starting. It’s really interesting that we have a public forum (the Internet) and multiple means of communication with an audience (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs to name a few) where one person can create content and deliver a message and in turn, build an audience. People are now not only commenting on current topics and events, but getting involved on a more personal level by creating a whole persona through which to potentially get a point across. Or at least be funny.
One of the most widely publicized examples of this is Barack Obama’s Teleprompter’s Blog. “Totus” the teleprompter offers up blog posts from the perspective of Obama’s teleprompter. Classic. (Well, maybe not yet – it’s only been a few months that this blog’s been up.)
Obama’s taken a lot of heat over his extensive use of the teleprompter. OK – so what. Whether you’re a fan of a president or not, pay attention to what is said and not how it’s said. That’s not my point. The interesting thing about this story is that someone out there decided to become Obama’s online personality of the teleprompter. Now that’s funny. And they’ve built an audience and received extensive coverage for doing so.
A Google search for “Barack Obama’s Teleprompter’s Blog” – the official name of the blog – done today returned about 36,800 results. That’s not too bad for a blog that’s been online since mid-March and isn’t making a blatant case for self-promotion or monetization. In addition, a Google link search reports that 3,060 pages link directly to the official teleprompter blog. Nice work, Totus. You’ve created original content on a regular basis, stayed true to your form, and generated a good following. That’s how to blog.
A little bit closer to home, and the impetus for making this blog post of my own, is a new satirical personality that is taking advantage of the local newspaper’s website redesign.
The Omaha World-Herald just launched their new website at Omaha.com this week. They’ve taken countless hits over the past several years due to issues with their previous site. It’s no surprise that their new site is getting blasted as well. I doubt they could have released anything short of a direct emulation of CNN.com or NYTimes.com without taking some flak.
Sure, there are some things I’d recommend doing differently. Again, however, that’s not the point of this post. I’m more interested in the conversation that’s now taking place over the new site launch. There aren’t many relevant search results available for “omaha.com redesign” yet – several point to articles that contain those terms or were part of the old Omaha.com website. (Unfortunately, none of the old Omaha.com URLs redirect to the new paths.)
The current chatter is more along the lines of people not liking the design, not liking the layout, and being generally displeased with the new site. OK. Everyone gets their opinion.
But the most interesting development for me is the Twitter account for @NewOmahaDotCom. Here we have another satirical personality that is acting as the “official” Twitter stream for the new Omaha.com. There’s currently a lot of chatter going on, with direct replies going out to all the commentors. The latest, “I’m tired… Spent the whole night resaving my JPGs. thought it might help with the so called ‘errors’” points to the user comments about images, browser crashes, and general problems with the site.
This is another good example of someone with an obvious concern or interest generating content – even if it’s just for laughs – that’s getting picked up within the local community and generating buzz.
Like we’ve said many times before – people are out there talking about you, your brand, and what you’re doing. You can participate in the conversation or not. But if you listen, you’ll have a lot of the answers that your customers are already telling you.
I wonder if NewOmahaDotCom and Totus are related…