Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Controlling Your Message in the MySpace Age

We've spent a lot of time discussing the value user-generated content in the context of Wikipedia and the like. But what happens when user-generated content threatens to supercede your official message?

This TechPresident article describes how Joe Kennedy, a paralegal from Los Angeles, created an unofficial MySpace page for presidential candidate Barack Obama. The site became hugely popular, but concerns about the validity of the information and risk of unofficial information prompted the campaign to attempt to gain control of it. Negotiations broke down, and MySpace was forced to step in and lock out Kennedy's account.
How all this happened is a complicated tale that is still unfolding, and none of the parties involved--Anthony, the Obama online team, and the MySpace political operation--emerge from this story unscathed. Speaking on background, Obama campaign staffers are spreading word that Anthony just wanted a "big payday." Anthony in turn has posted a missive on his blog (that was originally sent to me as an email) accusing the Obama team of "bullying...[and] rotten and dishonest" behavior. However one parses those accusations ... the Obama campaign's reputation as the most net-savvy of 2008 has taken a big hit.
While this article deals with politics, there are lessons for companies as well. How to do manage the tension between encouraging grassroots "buzz" and controlling your message online? Will MySpace squatting become as prevelent as cybersquatting?

1 comment:

N. Venkatraman said...

This is a key issue in marketing as brand managers assess the net effects of their content and user-generated content as well. Good point!