The phrase I hear in the marketing world almost every day is “the conversation is happening whether or not you are part of it.” This is usually followed by an admonishment to the marketing authority to become part of the conversation in some way, usually by trying to bring it to your own site/territory.
It’s good advice. All-too-often followed by not-so-useful action. It’s not as easy, nor as obvious, as it seems (especially for traditional marketers) to find the conversation, not to mention take part. And if you haven’t heard it enough, taking part not only means saying something, but also saying something useful and interesting, saying something authentically “you” and not saying something that is just a bunch of marketing-speak positioning words.
This posting is unconfirmed (as far as I know), but look at this response from the folks at Second Life. This gets at the heart of participation. The GetAFirstLife.com project owner is going to parody Second Life. And use some variations on the logo, etc. They accept reality and explicitly agree. They win points, buzz and goodwill all at once.
Most importantly, they further their reputation as cool people with something useful to say, and enhance their unique differentiation that makes Second Life the “place to be” in the virtual world.
Just like people will be talking about your company and your products/services. When you comment or respond, what will you be saying? Will it win you goodwill?
And most importantly, will it contribute to what makes you different and unique?