Don't Believe Everything You See on the Web, WomenEntrepreneur.com columnist Francine Schill writes that "just because a company has an awesome website doesn't mean it's legitimate." Francine is absolutely right. Let's face it, tossing up a sophisticated looking site these days is as easy as dressing up as your favorite character from Mad Men this Halloween.
The availability of content
management systems (CMS's) and thousands of free and cheap website templates
has opened the door for nearly anyone to create a trustworthy looking business
So as an entrepreneur and
business owner, how do you know whom to trust and do business with? Among the
many options you have is to turn elsewhere on the web and tap into the social
dialogue about the company or brand in question. And that's what leads me to
this week's Wednesday Web Resource... Marginize
Founded in early 2010 and based
out of Cambridge, Mass., Marginize
allows anyone to engage with or read others' comments on any website -- independently
from the owner of the site -- by using a free browser add-on or bookmarklet.
Once the add-on or bookmarklet is deployed, a new sidebar appears in the right
margin of the web page, where anyone can read and interact via comments and
check-ins (think of "check-ins" as Foursquare for websites). As a result, every
website now has an ad-hoc message board, whether the site's owner wants it or
not! (For an example of how this works for this particular page you're reading
right now, click this link: http://mar.gy/tRv.)
Pre-populated with the most
recent and archived user-generated content about the company or brand
(primarily from Twitter, one cursory look is all it takes to form an opinion
and learn more from what others have to say. Marginize's founder, Ziad Sultan, says that's exactly the point.
"Whether people are interested
in buying the same product or are looking for reputable companies or services,
Marginize enables the conversation to naturally take place between these
parties, even though many websites would rather avoid this," says Sultan.
If you're the type who reads
between the lines, you're probably starting to see that Marginize can be used
for and against your business. As a
result of anyone being able to participate, it's quite conceivable your
competitors or detractors can be using Marginize to raise questions about your
company or services -- which is exactly what's happening elsewhere on the web.
This is why I strongly recommend that every entrepreneur with a website start
using the free Marginize browser add-on or
bookmarklet to see what's being said about their own business or brand
online. Having access to this type of information enables you to address
real-time issues and opportunities on your own terms, as opposed to remaining
ignorant to the fact that both helpful and harmful dialogue is occurring.
While Marginize's current focus
is on leveraging content from Twitter, I
wouldn't be surprised if in the next few months we start seeing content from Yelp, StumbleUpon
and other user-generated recommendation engines that freely share information
for public consumption, make its way into Marginize's stream.
For more information, or to
download the free Marginize browser add-on or bookmarklet, visit www.Marginize.com.