PVR was recently introduced into South Africa for the first time. MyPVR.co.za is a website built by an individual (Jason), completely dedicated to glorifying DStv’s new product. According to Jason, he does not get paid for the site or for his positive recommendations – his site is a labour of love. MyPVR.co.za is not the only site Jason has built around a brand – The Sad Life of a Penguin Pools Customer (www.supersmart.co.za) is the antithesis of MyPVR.co.za – it is a detailed, fact-supported account of Jason’s horrifying ordeal with the company.
Jason is a member of a fast-growing online community that is choosing social software (blogs, wiki’s, podcasts and RSS) to share its voice in the public domain. Before clients or customers (or employees) had only mainstream media (MSM) as an option if they had an important message to tell the world. Now anyone with an Internet connection can set up a free blog at Blogger.com for the entire world to see and interact with. It is reality Internet. Forget Isabel Jones’ Fair Deal, Carte Blanche and Special Assignment – citizen journalists are a force to be reckoned with.
Blogs are powerful because of their simplicity – they allow ordinary people the opportunity to publish quality content to the Web, regardless of technical knowledge, and virtually for free. As stated in the Cluetrain Manifesto (www.cluetrain.com) – “A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies.â€? Citizen marketers are both a threat and an opportunity – a positive relationship with a citizen marketer, or a problem solved in the public domain through transparent intervention can go a long way to turning critical customers into loyal brand evangelists. MSM is dying. Advertising is expensive. But referrals and recommendations around the water cooler or braai can pay dividends in expanding your word-of-mouth network. Blogs are the digital water cooler, the pixilated braai – the virtual coffee shop. It stands to reason that your organisation should be one of the voices prominent in the discussion.
Jo’blog – ‘An SA Blog, from JHB’ (www.joblog.co.za) – is one of South Africa’s most popular blogs. They have an impressive readership of savvy, intelligent individuals from around the globe interacting with their content on a daily basis. And because the Jo’bloggers work in communications they observe marketing, advertising and branding happenings and comment freely about them on the site. Absa, MTN, Telkom, Nedbank, EMI and Standard Bank are just a few of the companies who have had (most likely unbeknownst to them) a bit of exposure on Jo’blog, just over the last two weeks or so. Some mentions are slightly less complimentary than others. Oddly (or sadly), they get precious little feedback, positive or negative, from the companies in question. Cherryflava (www.cherryflava.com), this time originating from the Mother City, enjoys an equally loyal readership and is currently expanding with more bloggers, and more blogs, being added to the network. They too have no qualms sharing stories of dodgy service, shocking advertising or random great stories of service or business excellence. The same is true of www.TmTd.biz, TomorrowToday.biz’s own blog, where we share our good and bad customer experiences for the world to see.
Savvy companies need to invest time and energy into exploring ways to improve customer interactions online. The Internet has changed the way we do business and continues to challenge our long-established communications models. With over 22 million blogs currently floating about the Web, it’s time to take the phenomenon seriously. Regardless of whether you choose to blog or not, be open to the possibility that someone might be blogging about you. How will you respond?

TomorrowToday Global