. The Transom .

Monday, May 22, 2006

Another reason why online makes sense

AT&T just got called out by a former technician who published confidential papers on an online news site, Wired News. Not to go into great lengths about the story, but he basically has documented proof that AT&T was cooperating with the NSA in order to provide private information through 'secret rooms' where all kinds of information about your email messages was being analyzed.

This post isn't about the merits of what AT&T did or even about whether Wired News should have published the sealed documents. This post is about one thought: you better be listening to what people are saying about you online, because your company depends on it.

And not just listening, but being in a position to listen, interpret and respond. Size doesn't matter in this game. Big companies and small companies are equally at risk. A quick example. I heard today at Counselors Academy about a new software product that was reviewed by a USA Today tech editor. The developer of this software was told to prepare his servers for a massive influx of download requests because USA Today goes out to some 2 million readers and the review was five out of five stars. After 24 hours of the paper being published the developer had sold 38 copies. Not exactly the stellar launch he had hoped for.

He decided to try a different approach. He sent the software to two tech bloggers. Just two. After 24 hours of their reviews posting online, he had sold over 3800 copies.

Does this mean that USA Today is meaningless? Absolutely not. Does this mean bloggers are the only way to move product? Absolutely not. It just means, the online world is a powerful force that is at your fingertips and to not be taking advantage of it is like flushing money down the drain.

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