Sun CEO and chief blogger Jonathan Schwartz is taking the social media route to help market Sun's array of products to customers. In his most recent blog post, Schwartz writes:
"...the most valued information travels by word of mouth. Through blogs, on-line reviews, or other on-line conversations. Or "kneecap to kneecap," as we sit across the table from customers in our briefing centers. And frankly, the most valuable information about Sun doesn't come from Sun, it comes from other customers."
He asks, "How do you get the word out if you don't have a $500M ad budget?" His answer is let more free and to some degree unfiltered sunlight in by harnessing the opinions of users on Sun's Web site, just Amazon or CNET do. Sun will publish user contributed product reviews/opinions and include user ratings for products starting this week. Schwartz said the new level of "transparency" will begin with just a few products. Maybe he wants to test it out before going full tilt.
What will be interesting is to see how Sun handles the trolls, who will certainly flame away on sun.com. Schwartz says that customers will trust the opinions of the users more Sun's spiel, and he's right--as long as their is transparency among users, such as using their real names, and that they actually have first-hand knowledge of the products.
Schwartz acknowledges the risks, including that competitors would take advantage of the openess to trash Sun products. He concludes that the bigger risk is leaving customers, who aren't aware of what Sun has to offer, in the dark. "Transparency's at least a part of the solution. If not an outright competitive weapon." Schwartz opines in the blog post. Let the conversations begin...