Tell us a little about Brands in Public (BiP), powered by Squidoo.

If you have a brand that is spending money on media, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time figuring out how to get the most out of that investment. We’ve professionalized the art of buying media. But social media is different. Buying ads on Facebook isn’t the way you build a brand online. In turns out that brands are now built through conversations. People talking about you. Posts and tweets and news stories. Generally, those bits of data are strewn all over the net, not collated or collected. Worse, they happen without you and your brand being able to chime in. Brands in Public is designed as a public facing dashboard, a place where searchers will find the conversation as it stands right now, along with you and your brands response. Even better, you can highlight your favorite comments or tweets and encourage more of the stuff you’d like to have out there. Compared to an ad on TV or a magazine, it’s a pretty good deal. We think it’s a straightforward way to be part of the conversation. And if you have the technical chops to go build this on your own, go for it. Just be sure you do it, somewhere.

What was your inspiration behind the brand dashboards?

The Amazon problem over the summer (where they accidentally banned gay books from the bestseller lists) was a wake up. It took three days for Amazon to speak up and get the word out, and even then, where to put their comments? The idea here is that if there’s one totem pole, you know where to go to have your say. I combined this with what I learned talking to a council of big companies that are exploring this space. Big companies are better at having a place than they are at rolling their own.

Did your books, Meatball Sundae and Tribes play into the development of BiP?

I don’t write books to sell books. I write books because those are the ideas running through my head. So everything I do influences what I write, and what I write really influences what I do.

How would you compare BiP with other listening platforms & information aggregators out there?

We’re not trying to listen. There are big companies way better at helping you lurk and listen and alert. This is a public dashboard, and I think it is one of a kind. Sure, it’s not so hard to use other tools (including Squidoo) to simulate this, but we wanted to make it easy. Also worth noting is that in addition to helping brands, this helps users. The fact that the page already exists (whether it has been sponsored yet or not) is a service, because if you’re thinking of buying a tool or a trip or a car, it’s nice to see what the world is saying. The sponsor is not a necessity.

How do you see BiP evolving over the coming months/years?
The power of Squidoo is the modular nature of it. I’m sure our users will ask for powerful new tools, and we’ll build them! This morning at 7 am we were asked to offer free BiP pages to selected non profits, and at 2 pm we’ll be announcing just that. The beauty of a small team is that you can move fast.