In a post on the AOL’s official Mail product blog, AOL insults Google’s GMail product in typical insincere tirade regarding product parity. If there was anything friendly about the entry, it wasn’t made clear to readers. Either this is a PR stunt, or the author had one too many spiked drinks at the office on Halloween.
Argh. Here is the link to the entry, using nofollow attribute appropriately:
An Open Letter to Gmail: Happy Halloween! We love your costume!
Oh, it’s deep. It’s worth one read for a good chuckle at how low the morale is in Dulles.
I’ll explain the problems in AOL’s blog entry where AOL criticizes Google for allegedly copying AOL’s proprietary features into their product. That is, here are seven tips that will substantially improve the blog’s effectiveness. This is the kind of stuff that companies hire social media consultants for, but I’ll volunteer my feedback for free in the hope that someone, anyone, at AOL will “fix” these problems internally.
To AOL Corp Comm: Yes, in this instance, it is appropriate to bust someone’s chops on this. Unlike me, the person who blogged that embarrassing blog entry caused much more brand equity damage and is causing an uproar on the Web. Please share my feedback below with your team and anyone who blogs for products in the company. Kthxbai.
- No author name — There is not an author name on the blog. Is this from an outsourced programmer, a corporate visionary, a product manager or was this the work from AOL’s own corporate communications team? I don’t know. Using ambiguous phrases like “The Webmail Team” or whatever is a complete insult to the readers themselves. Those readers are those who desire to connect with the blog author and possibly maintain a relationship on the Web together.
- Stop using Blogsmith — I’m not sure why you folks are using Blogsmith for this relatively simple blog. AOL Journals sufficed and it was completely relevant for your main audience. Why place more barriers between blog commenters, let alone, your readers? Was AOL Journals not “cool” enough? Sadly, AOL lacks the fortitude to understand “cool,” and that can’t possibly be why. And no, don’t say you want to “broaden your audience,” because that too is something that is shrinking every day. I guess my additional request is to support SNS authentication in comments, but no one listened to me a year ago, no one will listen now.
- Stop thinking so high of yourself — Stop thinking your product is the best. Really, who in their right mind chooses to use AOL Mail after they’ve used GMail? An entry like this gives off the sense that you’re ignorant, arrogant and blind. Google’s GMail product team couldn’t give two shits if one of their features was similar to yours. AOL is in absolutely no position to criticize (or claim) that Google imitates AOL in their products, especially when the homepage imitates Yahoo so vividly, functionally and organizationally.
- Stop insulting your users, employees, peers and colleagues with attacks — Much like political campaigns, people don’t want to hear attack ads. Yes, I clicked and I read; but I intend to turn your unsubstantiated claims against you, your brand and even have less respect for the company that once defined the “Web” for America, Europe, Canada and Mexico. If you spent more time focusing on what your product does well, I may possibly be mildly interested at seeing why your product is not inferior. Of course, that’s a hard sell on someone like me.
- Improve your product, not your image — You still don’t get why GMail is superior, it’s quite laughable. AOL had about 15 years to get it right and you still suck harder than a north Hollywood $5 hooker. If you spent real time fixing your product, making it fast, making it do truly innovative things, your image would improve significantly. Instead, you sell out with each others incestuous ideas from Ad Sales trying to monetize the product too much with more than 40 percent of the screen’s real estate with monetized bullshit. Make your product better as if every page view was your last, because it is.
- Interact with the community — There is something truly impressive of a blogger when they interact and truly respect their community. No, I don’t mean providing “corp-comm approved” responses, I mean offering humility, support and honesty. All I saw on that entry was complaints from your own avid users in addition to commentary in response to your audacious merits in this entry. If you interact, half the battle is over; if you don’t interact, half the battle has started.
- Acknowledge your competitors — Acknowledging your competitors doesn’t happen from a drunken diatribe on someone’s lonely Halloween. Srsly. Why not ask users what features they love, and ask them to try a competitor and share feedback with you? This is much more constructive, tactile, and will aid you in business development intelligence.
If you read this, thanks. If not, be satisfied that you all are singlehandedly going to drive your product, image and brand equity further into the ground. The best thing is, when your brand equity fails, your users won’t be disappointed.
I would love if AOL improved. Is it any question why their stock price is $10? That’s embarrassing, considering Viacom and GE have twice the investor confidence. Randy, you’ve got a stellar team in there. Go retreat over to CC6 to commence more re-orgs.
[Found via Shawn Christopher on Twitter]