Australia: voiceanddata.com.au interview: – Whirlpool.net.au

I did an interview with Andrew Collins for voiceanddata.com.au a while ago. Just found it today. I really need to set that Yahoo pipes thing up properly for my name – Google Alerts sucks. In the interview, I talked about the impact of anti-marketing by customers on companies.:

Social networks strategist Laurel Papworth also agrees, warning corporations they’ll be ‘blitzed’ if they don’t offer customers avenues of expression. To demonstrate the effects of neglecting Web 2.0, she points to the story of Sky Handling Partner, a cargo handling company.

The company allegedly misplaced one customer’s luggage, leading the customer to publish a blog filled with profanity alongside the company’s name. The entry was featured on the social bookmarking website Digg, which lead ultimately to a vast number of Digg users visiting the blog.

Thanks to all those click-throughs from Digg, the blog is one of the top results returned by Google when someone searches for the company’s name. Few companies would enjoy such profane publicity.

Similarly, Papworth believes Optus and BigPond made a grievous error in not contributing to the Australian broadband discussion board, Whirlpool. Had they placed their own representatives on the board at or soon after its inception, says Papworth, the telcos could have allayed some of the hate directed towards them on the website, which any Whirlpooler will tell you is now quite substantial.

“If you don’t participate, you don’t get respect,” she explains.

The response from David Cannon from IDC is this:

Senior analyst David Cannon, IDC, views the Whirlpool scenario a little differently, labelling it a “storm in a teacup”. The Whirlpool user base comprises only a tiny per cent of the total number of BigPond and Optus subscribers, says Cannon, as well as being isolated from the mainstream media; the big telcos simply don’t need to care.

But while Optus and BigPond might be large enough to ignore thousands of storming customers, certainly the thousands of small to medium sized businesses in Australia would pale at such customer dissatisfaction, and the thought of it spreading.

So let’s continue the discussion – they don’t offer comments. Nor does IDC have a blog as far as I can find. I did quite a bit of research on whirlpool before I used them as a quote – for example (updated)

604 modems + routers
29,328 features filled

Remember, 90% of people will lurk without joining – a good reason to have a read-only anonymous option as barrier to entry – so that impacts the 183,938 numbers. Don’t believe me?

Alexa Global Traffic Rank for whirlpool.net.au: 3,303
Rating in Australia: 39th
What does this list actually look like? Well, it’s a mix of Australian and International sites:
1 Google Australia (google.com.au)
2 Yahoo! (yahoo.com)
3 Google (google.com)
32 Telstra BigPond
39 Whirlpool Broadband News
49 Optuszoo.com.au

And even as far back as 2002 they were a little less “isolated from the mainstream media” than one would think.

From October – December 2002, www.whirlpool.net.au was ranked #1 in the Hitwise Australia ‘News and Media – IT Media‘ category based on number of visits.
This ranking is based on Australia-based visitors visiting Australian sites.

…and so on and so forth. Ok, so I’m a bit of a fan – what am I missing? Whirlpool.net.au has:

a substantial number of signed up members
nearly as many visitors as Telstra and more than Optus
the history (ranking highly over the years)
signed up members would be Optus and Telstra staff, off duty
or IT staff of companies who have to make decisions for their company
The community would be used to recruit new staff to Telstra and Optus
Whirlpool members advise friends and family which supplier and plan to take

I don’t think it is just small-medium size companies that are impacted by the wisdom or otherwise of the crowds. ‘course these days, the big players are pretty involved in whirlpool.net.au aren’t they?

On a somewhat whimsical note – which bloggers use surnames? Still looks wierd to see me referrd to as “Papworth”. I had a boyfriend that used to talk to me that way. Long story.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

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