Archive for September, 2008

Live by the blog, die by the blog

Interesting social media effort from Globalive, the new upstart in the Canadian wireless telecom scramble. Globalive snapped up some significant access to wireless spectrum and plans to offer a national service in the first half of 2009.

In the runup to this launch (and while they seek out a Sugar Daddy to pay for the venture), Globalive also launched Wirelesssoapbox.com, a social media effort designed to get people talking about what they’d like in a new wireless company.

It’s a smart concept that the existing wireless players simply can’t successfully duplicate: the discussion forums and comments would be flaming with disgruntled customers instead of the constructive discussion or positive conversation building that Bell, Telus or Rogers would want. You only have to look at the rocket-like popularity of the online petition railing against Rogers’ initial plans for its exclusive iPhone launch. Ruinediphone.com garnered nearly 60,000 names, along with some nasty comments, in just a few short weeks.

Globalive is hoping to tap into that discontent and build some brand awareness and loyalty in a market that analysts have roundly decried as lacking more robust competition and lower prices. Wirelesssoapbox.com provides a neat online kickstart to Globalive’s marketing/PR/customer research efforts with basic applications like comments, discussion forums, videos — all hallmarks of a good social media site.

But eventually Globalive will have to pony up with a service plan. Virgin Mobile, Koodoo, even Rogers, started out as the upstart to long-time incumbent Bell and basked in an initial “we’re going to do things different” glow with Canadians. In the end, no one has demonstrably stood apart from the crowd. And so all the goodwill built up through Wirelessoapbox.com and its conversation-building efforts will go ‘poof’ if it raises expectations and doesn’t deliver.

And that’s the beauty — and curse — of social media: all those loyal subjects you’ve successfully courted and nurtured can become equally disloyal and disruptive when you mess up. Live by the blog, die by the blog (or any social media venture).

One other note: Wirelesssoapbox.com is appears to be crowdsourcing its infrastructure:

Very importantly, we want to hear from tech-savvy armchair engineers who are interested in sharing their advice on network architecture and design, and wireless suppliers and vendors.

Would I sign up for a phone service that was partially built by “armchair engineers?” Heck, my dad is an armchair engineer (you should see him put up a fence or fix my washing machine). I hope Globalive can find the investors to leave that to the experts.

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