A Lesson In Online Discussions and Reputations

A few years ago, while working with a software consultancy company and running uphill to introduce a new product to market, we engaged with a snarky poster in a very valuable discussion room. At the time, we didn't know who and how powerful this person was that we were debating our products merits with. After a few back-and-forths where we were clearly on the defensive, we decided to take a more aggressive approach, with the conclusion of "we'd love for you to give our product a try and give us your feedback through this discussion".

While the poster never bit, we later learned, while talking with our chief competitor, who this person was and what agenda they were driving. Our competitor then went on to tell us that they were following the discussion closely and waiting for us to break so that they could jump in. Unfortunately (and fortunately for us), that break never came.

I think of this story when reading the New York Times article Managing Your Small Business’s Online Reputation.

The quote from Greg Sterling rings the most true:

It’s really just the rules of dealing with people in the real world, translated online.