Thursday, November 6, 2008

News You Can Use (and so can they)

For those of you who remember Philly Expatriate's very funny troll for people who are looking for naughty things on Google, there's a new twist to the phenomenon.

Several years ago, my husband and I were in an excruciating long line (pre-9/11) that was moving so slowly we were worried about missing our flight, even though we'd arrived over three hours early. We were getting closer to the front of the line when from somewhere in the snakeline we heard a man raise his voice. "If I miss my flight," he intoned, clearly trying to reach the whole terminal, "I am going to put up an anti-USAir website!"

Even pre-9/11, flying was a little tense, and it was hard to stifle the snickers. This was SO early in the internet era, I'm not sure more than half the people in line even had access to the web. (We were flying to Seattle for a wedding, so maybe we were wrong. But at the time, the internet was still dominated by academe and silliness.) "Ooooh, an anti-USAir website!" we joked later. "So other nerds won't make the same mistake!"

But a few months ago on my blog I started noticing a little trend. I wrote about loving my wireless keyboard and mouse (which ended up causing way more problems than they were worth, but I didn't know that at the time) on a WFMW post. And next thing I knew, one of my comments included a link to a site that sold the keyboards. I didn't post the comment for a few days, debating how I felt about freebie advertising for a place I had no business dealings with. But I appreciated the ingenuity and posted the comment with a disclaimer.

Shortly after that, I had my cathartic Why I'm A Composting Dropout post, and expressed my frustrations with my Earth Machine composter and my complete inability to get the top half and the bottom half to actually stay together. And within a week, I had a very kind and deferential comment from the Earth Machine people, apologizing for my difficulty and giving me suggestions on how to (literally) get it together.

Turns out, that's just the next wave in internet marketing. Companies troll the web looking for complaints and rants that they can help fix online. Check out the news story on this phenomenon from the local news here.

I'm guessing the manager of my 401K isn't looking to try to make up to me online. But overall, I appreciate the companies who are going out of their way to be responsive to customers, even those who aren't complaining directly.

Anyone else have any luck like this?


brandy101 said...

Speaking of wierd connections via search words - I have been getting hits on Philly Expatriate for the past few days from VERY diverse locales ever since I posted about attending the Grant Park rally.
Although, it was within a day of posting about getting my boob *honked* at a halloween party, so, perhaps THAT was the cause of the traffic uptick!

I saw a news item a few months ago that noted that apparently the best way to get a Comcast issue resolve is to b*tch about them via twitter. They have managers who troll for such complaints.

Anjali said...

I got an email from someone from SitterCity after I complained about them in a blog post. It's so weird to feel "watched."