I couldn’t help but imagine some VP Marketing at GSK calling Debbie (cuz pharma is notorious for unflattering emails turned up in legal proceedings) saying "Debbie, we need a community around this blog and we need it now, get on it".
Remember that classic Rodney Dangerfield flick Back to School, possibly only second to Animal House in the collegiate genre, when he picks up the paper the researcher is working on for him, weighs it in his hand and says "feels like a B, add more pages, make it heavier". That’s what is happening here.
My friend Kevin just did extensive research on brand perception in travel and hospitality and found that on sites like TripAdvisor that brand value was perceived to be higher as more user comments, negative and positive, were attached to profiles. In other words, most people respond, according to Kevin’s research, to the number of comments about a hotel or travel destination, not what people are actually writing about. So maybe GSK is correct to push quantity in this sense even if it goes against the grain of what we believe community is all about?
As for the tactics Debbie is using to generate comments, aka begging, well it does strike me as a little desperate. She might consider hiring a group to post comments on the site… 1,000 comments for $200 seems reasonable, if one can get past that ethics issue.
And then there is the story today about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posting on a Yahoo! message board under a pseudonym about a company he was acquiring:
A month later, Rahodeb wrote that Wild Oats management "clearly doesn’t know what it is doing …. OATS has no value and no future."