Archive for October, 2008

The art of search reputation management

I was asked recently by a company interested in my skill sets about search reputation management and I essentially said it is all about listening. Knowing how to listen and knowing where to listen and knowing what tools to use to listen are all critical. The reason is, there are so many places where your company, brand, or name can be discussed, but trying to be everywhere at once is a challenge, so it’s important that you use as many monitoring sources as possible to keep as on top of it as is humanly possible.

 

But more importantly, it’s also imperative to consolidate or use as many aggregators as possible. Here are some of the ones I use to listen and why I think they are important in just the listening aspect. Once I get past the listening, then I will show you the tools I use to specifically manage and drive down a negative online reputation. Your methods might be different and I understand that, but these are just mine.

 

Google Alerts and Google News and Google BlogSearch– I absolutely love these because of the simplistic nature and the ability to tie it into igoogle/reader/email alerts.

 

Another monitoring tool I have been using a lot of lately has been Filtrbox.  The results are not where I would like them to be on a consistent basis, but that might just mean I need to tweak and adjust them some.

 

I’ve also used Trackur, it’s a pretty robust tool that can track any news mention of a particular term but… it also searches over everything from images, blogs, news sites, and videos. Great filters.

 

Some others I’ve used are Blogpulse to track conversations but not as extensively, as well, I’ve obviously used Delicious to see who’s book marking our sites and Keotag for a down and dirty quick look to see who is tagging certain key words.

 

Don’t discount the usage of tracking your reputation on forums and BBS sites. I met these guys Twing, at the Web 2.0 expo up in New York and they have a sweet product. Prior to meeting them, I had been using Boardtracker, which I still use from time to time.

 

With the 10 tools/Sites I have mentioned you can have a pretty good handle on monitoring the online reputation of your company or business. If you desire more, then you can set up RSS feeds from other sources to pipe in the information that you desire. Speaking of Pipes, I’ve been playing around with Yahoo Pipes as of late but haven’t really formulated an opinion on it yet. Finally I’d be remiss if I did not mention Radian6, another monitoring type of company, but more on a social media level. I have done a few twebinars with them in which they hosted the event.

 

 My thoughts on this are simple: Identify the point or source of pain and then you can begin to treat it.

 

By Listening, we can now determine the amount of management that will be needed to drive down the noise. In some cases the noise may be contained quickly and effectively with a few choice blog posts or articles or comments. But in some cases, it requires a larger and more concerted effort.

 

Now To manage and drive down a bad reputation, there are certain things that are a must and if you have not done these things yet, then you are way behind the eight-ball so to speak. First and Foremost, I would like to see/audit your current website. Is the message working? Is the content serving the right purpose? Is there any content that’s worth it’s weight? Sure most will admit that having a website is sufficient, but a website that doesn’t work for you, for SEO, or for your customers is useless. Even more-so, if it’s with reputation management in mind. So lets see what we can do right off the bat that may improve your company’s web presence just by improving a website that might be hurting. In some instances, just optimizing a few more pages either better, or for the first time may be enough to at least drive negative press off the first page of the SERP’s.

 

However, another way to continue to push down a negative reputation is to create a blog-site. A free one, no less. It doesn’t have to be a robust, busy, “chock-full of stuff” type of site. Just a site that has the right key-words, tags and page elements will do. And who knows, if you allow it, maybe it will become another viable channel of doing business for you? This effort is completely measurable as well because of the analytics associated with some of the Free services like Typepad and WordPress. Again blog sites are very search engine friendly. Speaking of analytics, you better have something in place, I’ll assume you do.

 

Once the blog-site is done you have a couple more website options. You can create some micro sites devoted to your company, product, or keywords and or you can create sub domains. Either way, the more pages you can get out there that have more to do about what is right with your company than what is wrong, the better off you will be.

 

The great thing about all of these suggestions is that they are completely measurable, can happen very quickly, and you can adapt or change your tactics on the fly. The proof is there for the client to see.

 

Taking a cue from what social media has to offer, I would highly recommend creating a social media presence via LinkedIn, Ning and Facebook, Flickr or YouTube or a Podcast. Doing none of them is not a good thing. Of the group, obviously if we’re talking corporate presence I would go with Facebook first followed by Ning and Linkedin. Since LinkedIn is more of a personal networking, branding type of social site, I would rank it a tad bit lower.  With Facebook, you can create a group devoted to your company. With YouTube, Flickr, or a Podcast, you can create audio visual elements of photos, videos or audio, tagged with key words and company references which will all be search engine friendly and also increasing the company reputation.

 

I’d also suggest creating a wiki devoted to your company as well. You could even created a wiki-how on something that your company might do. Search engines love wiki results.

 

One thing that seems to work rather well, actually 2, are creating or writing articles that you can submit about a topic that can be linked backed to you and your company. This is huge in pushing down negative elements. The other is PR Press releases. There are at least 20 Free PR sites out there in which you can create a PR release that can become SE friendly quicker than you can say Widget.

 

Speaking of widgets. If I wanted a viral reaction to my company, my product or my service, I would look into the creation of a widget that can be shared and virally spread to users. SpringWidgets allows you to create a Free widget which you could then drop on all of your social networking sites in which you have a presence. I know it might not be relevant to everyone, but when it comes to managing a bad reputation, I have to look at this challenge almost from a Guerilla marketing standpoint. Everything is fair game, in other words.

 

One last option would be to create a Google page devoted to your company through Google sites. Google sites is a way to create CMS type of web pages that the public can actually see and that are searched on. Anything that originates through, Google, has to be Google friendly, right?

 

In conclusion, managing and monitoring your reputation online are 2 very separate but equal acts that are uniquely joined at the hip. To ignore one for the other or vice versa is not highly recommended.

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Let’s quit talking to each other

This post is or was inspired by Liz Strauss.  Actually though, I was going to write this post a long time ago. It’s origins can be found within Twitter, and it’s flourishing within the blogosphere.  Part of my post is fueled by the innate ability of the late comers and the me-too’ers to echo what everyone else is saying via Twitter and their Insta-blogs. Some of them are merely trying to get in the game, while others are just trying to profit off of the efforts and sincerity of others. But the bottom line is they are bringing nothing to the table-zero. You know who you are.

The other part of my post is about the rest of us, me included, who tend to write about whats right, wrong, great, shitty, and awsome about social media, marketing, and all things related to what we do. There’s one big problem with this though. You see we get paid by companies who need what we do. We get paid by companies who have no clue. But our blogs and our Tweets are read by  most people who already know or pretend to know what to do. I know that’s not completely the case but for the majority it is.  Sure we share resources and blog sites with another “great post”,  but the people that we need to be reaching out to are companies that need what you do for a living. And they might not have access to your blog or access to your Tweets.

We need to quit validating each other so much and patting each other on the back. We need to start doing more with clients, and talking less to each other. You need to figure out a better way of getting clients to listen to your Tweets and how you’re going to get them to your blogsite and your website. If that means changing your tune on your tweets or your blog, then so be it.

Wouldn’t you agree?

You think you are so transparent

But you’re not. If you were, your offline world would be very similar to your online. And it’s not. How do I know? I don’t. But I do know how my offline world works and there are but a few similarities between the two. I bet for some of you, If you sat down and did a side by side comparison of what you do online versus what you do offline-you would no doubt see that they are very very different. They are apples and oranges. Your offline world ain’t so transparent.

 

So what’s my point?  Marketers, Social media marketers, and PR people who preach about asking or telling someone to be transparent online in social networks, might want to re-think that. Why? Because it’s more difficult than you think.

Yes, some do come out of their shells online. And the numbers bear that out. Possibly because they are now hiding behind the screen, they can now be this completely “other” person. Can they finally become the person they really are underneath it all? It’s possible. The “real you”? Maybe. The flip side though is, they can be the asshole too. There’s transparency that shows the good in a person, but there’s also the transparency that shows the bigot, the evil and the cruel in some people as well. Online personas allow that.

You see being transparent has different connotations depending on where you are and who you are. Asking someone to all of a sudden “be”, is a lot more difficult than you think. You never thought about that did you?  We throw around the words authentic and transparent in social networks, because they are”buzzy” and the words du jour, but what we have failed to realize is that asking someone to all of a sudden change gears and be something that they can barely “do” offline can be a lot more difficult than it appears not to be. Sometimes I wonder if we want the “real” you online.

10 social media ideas you can blog about

In my efforts to provide readers and writers with the tools they need to write better content, here is a topical list of subjects that you could probably write a pretty decent blog post on. If you do, give me some props and some link love. Or better yet, we could discuss them as we go, we can just start with #1 and we can collaborate and work our way down the list together. Your choice.

  1. What is Your Personal Social Media Strategy? Whether you are an agency, corporation, or an individual you need to have a plan.
  2. SEO depends on social media. As much as some purists might not want to admit it, seo and social media are joined at the hip.
  3. Should bloggers be held to journalistic standards? Bloggers can say and write some pretty outlandish things and get away with it, should they? Should they be held to the same standards as traditional journalists?
  4. Communications Decency Act and Social Networks-Are we doing enough to police what is written and produced and generated on social networks?
  5. Transactional conversations-is there now a value that can be placed on every conversation that takes place via social media?
  6. Social Media is a time suck-how much time do you devote to social media per day and per week?
  7. Whats more important? User experience or Technology? What drives the user? Is it the platform or the the experience?
  8. The criteria for judging social media platforms? What is yours? what do you base your usage on? What should they all be judged on?
  9. Social networking failures, you can’t force the action.-Not all social media/social networks succeed.
  10. How to choose the right social network? Should they be more vertical, will they eventually be?

OK, so there’s your topics, pick one, any one and go to it! Soothe your inner writers block demons and be sure you let us all read it too!

Who are you talking to?

Anyone know who Travis Bickle is? Back in 1976, an actor you may have heard of, was still trying to carve out a name for himself in Hollywood. He was in a movie called Taxi Driver, In this one memorable scene, Bickle is looking into a mirror at himself, imagining a confrontation which would give him a chance to draw his gun. He says the following line:

You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?

So my question to you, who are you talking to? When you write your blog, who are you writing for? Are you talking at them? or to them? Who is them? Someone had written recently that you don’t have a successful blog unless it’s loaded with trackbacks and comments. I bet to differ, but I do think it’s important that you are writing with purpose and conviction. That’s what makes a blog successful. But one other important aspect of blogging, is the ability to listen and the ability to focus.

Here is your thought for Monday. take a step back and figure out what is the message and the theme of your blog. When you do get traffic, what brings them to you? And how can you get them back again. What is your unique value proposition? it should be, listening first and talking second. I’m not saying your blog is wrong, I’m saying, be more succinct in the theme. BE CLEAR There’s nothing wrong with randomness, but if I want random, I can find that anywhere. This is especially true if you’re first starting out as well. Know why you want to blog. Here’s a good primer on how to blog ,for the uninitiated.

BTW, Travis Bickle was played by Robert DeNiro, but you knew that right?

 

 

5 posts not about you and your social MEdia self

I’m so sick of reading about the bad.  Actually I blame it on Shel Israel and his morning Twitter report on the sorry state of things. But Shel is just reporting it, it’s not his fault. So I’ve got 5 items for you to do some thinking on.  See if you can figure out the theme here.

Scott Monty drives a point home that all social media people on the inside looking out need to know, It’s not about you!

David Armano explains why giving begets giving prompted by Chris Anderson

Seth Godin explains why spreading yourself too thin aint’ a good thing.

The Kolbe A™ Index/Instinct Test: IQ tests tell you what you can do. Personality tests tell you what you want to do… the Kolbe A™ Index measures what you WILL or WON’T do. Check it out.

The rise of social media has made us all influencers and with that responsibility comes the notion that you can make a difference as long as you continue to give and not take.

See what the theme is? Social media and conversations are really not about you and what your needs are, they are about the other person or the community as a whole that you are a part of. Do what you do with the other person in mind for a day and see what happens. or better yet instead of trying to be some person everywhere, try concentrating on being some one in one place.

What can social media do for reputation management?

 

Alot has been written about online reputation management of late, and recently I was asked by a company to explain to them what I had done in regards to reputation management. So I’ve decided to recount what I did and what were the results.

 

About 18 months ago Emerson Directs’ web presence was no more than a brochure-ware site with no more than 3 pages of cursory content with zero traffic and zero web presence. all of its business was by word of mouth and referral. The only web presence was of SERP’s of information on an FTC settlement and consumer affairs reports on some bad customer service that occurred over 6 years ago.

 

Realizing that this had to have and was having a negative impact on the company and its ability to go out and get new business, I decided to do a few things. In short order, 1) I decided to create a new website, 2) a Social Media Optimization strategy wrapped around creating a number of social media pages devoted to the company-specifically the company name, 3) a blog site devoted to pushing out a more positive and leader like image for the company, 4) a robust social networking campaign 5) a Twitter persona in which I knew and hoped that people would go from the tweet to the blog site or to the website based on the quality of the tweet and lastly 6) be more visible and authentic with current and potential clients.

 

By creating the blog, it was another way of creating more content as well as another web site devoted to the Emerson Direct brand. As of today, The blog averages more than 10,000 visits per month, connects with clients, potential clients, and the casual reader, and has received numerous accolades. All of which were not my goal going on. They include ranking in the Adage power 150 The Power 150 is a ranking of the top 900 English-language media and marketing blogs in the world. The site is also ranked #23 of the Junta 42 which ranks the top 42 content marketing blogs. It’s also ranked oddly enough in the UK for top marketing blogs. It’s also part of the Big List of SEO blogs compiled by Lee Odden of Top Rank Blog. The indirect result of all of this, is people go from the blog to the website. The indirect direct result has been the creation of my personal brand as well, which has been cool and also very humbling since that was never my goal.

 

The residual effect of this effort has been tremendous in 1) driving traffic to a new site we built as well as 2) creating more opportunity for the company as well as 3) driving down the negative websites and 4) managing our website and companies’ online reputation in a more positive and proactive fashion and 5) I’ve become the de facto spokesperson for the reputation management campaign that Emerson Direct  undertook, as well as a champion for all things social media related and 6) Their phone has been ringing and 7) I’ve made some great new friends and contacts and 8. I’ve learned a ton and  9) respect so many others in the space now.

 

In regards to other forms of social media, I’d also created company related personas at nearly all of the top social networking sites, and even some of the lesser ones. I would venture that the total number was close to or had been 50. Some of those sites included YouTube, Delicious, Stumbleupon, Disqus, Propeller, Friendfeed and Twitter. All good viable ways of sharing content and changing a bruised reputation. Delicious is a prime example of my social media book marking efforts, in which I have over 600 bookmarks. That might not seem like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things it is.

 

I’ve toned all of this down now, as I’ve been able to dial it back, tweak it, and develop a happy medium with a consistent social media presence in the places where it’s most effective. Plus the time suck was killing me.

One note:  I also created a number of filters in Google Alerts, Summize  and Backtype that keep and kept me abreast of anything that was said or written about me, the brand, the company, or any of the products that they were marketing, which I highly recommend.

 

 

 

 

The culmination of these social media and reputation management efforts has been, to put it mildly, extraordinary. Not a day goes by where they do not see some type of positive ripple effect both professionally and or for me personally from these efforts. 

The interesting thing about this whole exercise has been, and some people might not realize this, the tremendous amount of effort and work required to maintain and do all of this. The payoff though has been well worth it. I also think it’s important to note, that you cannot afford not to be doing some variation of the above. What do you think? What more could I have done? Did I miss anything?

 

 


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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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