The Blackbird Browser was only released last week Monday, but it burned the Internet Highway with cries of “segregation” from both blacks and non-blacks. 40A, the company behind the browser, is a class example of how not to make the news.
The one thing that is true about the Internet is that behind an anonymous name, people can be themselves. For example, a link for a parody site came out. Calling itself “Whitebird”, it’s a mini-website parody, pointing to Apple’s Safari Browser. The more Ed Young (co-founder of Blackbird) tries to calm down people, the more of an uproar it causes. So, I decided to give some suggestions on how Blackbird can save itself from itself.
1. A media kit would be nice.
With very little information about the people behind Blackbird, everyone will take Blackbird at face value. No explanation of the people behind it makes it easy pickings. Also, it doubles the work for the company behind it. A media kit would easily defuse the common questions (who are you, why you are doing this) in one package. A 5 page PDF file and links to images we can all use will prevent people from making their own graphics as well as give some history of the people behind it. Plus, people keeping making this mistake of calling it “Mozilla’s Blackbird” when Mozilla did not authorized this browser. A press kit could have easily prevented that. Journalist should not be lazy, but you’ll be surprise how many bloggers don’t do their research (and not to mention they are louder than today’s journalists).
2. Keep… things… simple…
What’s info[at]blackbirdhome.com? What’s support[at]blackbirdhome.com? Are these e-mail addresses? You sure? How come there is not a Mac OS version? Why can you not say that on the home page and provide a link to explainations? What you mean it’s just Windows?
One thing I learn as a web designer: people like to get questions answered fast. I will take my time to look for answers. However, your target audience will not. There’s a lot of ways to spam-proof your e-mail addresses and collect feedback. The average user will not try to figure out [at] is really @, especially when you fail to explain it.
If you’re going to make me work to give you feedback, then it will not take me long to figure out how you uninstall Blackbird.
3. Disclose as much information as possible
Software companies have a “software release” page or blogs explaining what’s new in their current version and bug fixes. You don’t. Software companies have a database support system on their websites. Yours don’t. You don’t need to disclose how you are making money, but you definitely need to disclose the search inquires and how they are managed. You need to disclose as much as possible to “demystify” your company. The more mysterious you are, the less likely you’ll be trusted.
4. Make material that are locked in the browser freely available.
We understand you are trying to forest a community. We don’t understand why you only want people using the browser to share within that community. How is that really helping you?
5. Talk to us and listen
You will never out every single fire and bad press. However, some of the most common questions we have about this direction can be easily answer if you are willing. While I’m not telling you to turn down press opportunities, I am suggesting to make full use of what you can do from your own website.
Right now, from Blackbird’s main site, there is no blog and no way of communicating. Even sites that release Betas want feedback. Ed Young said “give us feedback”. How exactly are you collecting feedback? By downloads? By listening to blogs? Why do you feel there’s a need for a “black browser”? Do you believe in IBIBSI Syndrome?
Launch a Twitter account and use it. Join social networking sites. Get a forum and a blog and don’t be afraid to take a hard look at yourself or people’s feeback publicly. By launching a blog or a forum, you can speak to both people who use your browser and people who don’t. You might as well do it fast because the blogs of outrage are growing every single day. (11K+ discussions and growing)
Depending on your approach, your company will live or die by the publicity. It’s been a week and you got a lot of mixed publicity. You’re making yourself look bad if all you’re going to do is go to old media/channels and talk to people about the browser.
Use new media and talk to people NOW!