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?

 

 

Twitter Patter

Ok I admit it. Twitter matters to me. My 300+ peeps that follow me and vice versa, are starting to take on  the characteristics of a community where you can depend on certain personalities to talk about the things that they are passionate about. . Yes, this community still has the people that will give you TMI on the little nuances of their lives, but somehow even that isn’t so bad. My community is a diverse group from all walks of life that I enjoy exchanging thoughts links rants and raves with.

Thanks to Tweetdeck which though I consider a bandwidth hog, I can manage and filter my community with simple ease. It takes a mili-second to see what people are talking about and because it’s a very targeted group of people talking about all things that are markting, PR and social media related, the content that we share amongst each other is usually pretty strong.

Peter Kim brought up some great points recently in which he explains the value of Twitter to him, as well as some of the splinter sites he likes, that are devoted to making his Twitter experience more powerful.  Last night I was thinking about this:

When and how could you have in the past, connected with so many great minds and thought leaders on such an immediate real time level?

Therein is the true value of Twitter. Connect and converse not only with your peers but people that make a difference in your professional life? Are you kidding me? How can you not realize the value in that? Even the biggest of skeptics has to see that, and not the baseline, entry level, tag line that is wrapped around Twitter-“What are you doing?”

There are some rules of engagement that one should follow though, and to that I have to give a shout out to Beth Harte and her “Why should i follow you post” I’d suggest checking it out. And then follow it up with Michael Brito’s Twitter Manifesto post which is a nice dovetail from Beth’s.

Twitter is a great tool as long as you understand the value and the context in which it can be used; and or abused.  However, as is the great self policing aspect of most online communities, the abusers or the poseurs usually don’t last very long. Consider them similar to the travelling carnies. They usually are in town for the weekend and then you won’t see them again. Missing teeth and all…

Just remember: Value begets value.  So If you are going to Tweet or you’re going to participate, then try and avoid the mundane and the banal. We can get that anywhere. But you should be using Twitter for the following reasons, which I am going to scrape from Todd Defrens blog post on why PR people need to be in Twitter:

  • Personal branding
  • Knowledge
  • Relationships

Wow, talk about value adds! And Twitter is freakin FREE! Are you kidding me? Listen, if you’re reading this, then chances are very high that you already know about Twitter. That’s cool. But maybe what you take away from this post is that there is a “way” to use Twitter right, and I hope you “get” that more than anything else. Oh and you can follow me here,   http://www.twitter.com/@marc_meyer

I know I might be beating a dead horse here, but I’m going to throw Common Crafts Twitter Video back up.

5 huge tech trends that you can’t ignore.

That’s it. Just 5. But why just 5? Because these 5 are rockin’ our world now and will continue to do so for the next 10 years. Do you remember the Gartner Hype Cycle? I blogged about it awhile back in regards to certain things we can be excited about over the next 5 years. Take a look at it real quick.

Ok Now look at this next slide real quick:

 

Ok, one more and I will let you off the hook.

 

 

So the hype cycle pretty much lets you know where certain “things” are in their growth development. It’s a great point of reference and doesn’t take a long time to figure out. Samw with the next slide, what does it tell you? It tells you that music is important to us. Always has, always will be. Here’s a quick 1 question quiz: What does the MySpace business model revolve around? Music and social networking. Ok So there’s 2 trends that will not be dipping anytime soon. Awhile back I wrote a blog post about the top 44 music related social networks and to this day it still pulls traffic. I recently tweeted a question as to what brick and mortar industry has completely dried up but thrived online-answer: music

Trend #1 Music will continue to thrive online and you cannot ignore it.

According to Comscore  In August 2008, Americans conducted 11.7 billion core searches, virtually unchanged from July, as Google Sites extended its lead in core search market share by 1.1 percentage points.

Search is, the gateway to everything that we do online. You may see some play in regards to trying to refine search into more of a niche based environment, but the bottom line is search will alway be the mainstay of any internet based activity.

Google Sites led the U.S. core search market in July with 63 percent of the searches conducted, up from 61.9 percent in July, followed by Yahoo! Sites (19.6 percent), Microsoft Sites (8.3 percent), Ask Network (4.8 percent), and AOL LLC (4.3 percent).

Americans conducted 11.7 billion searches at the core search engines, nearly identical to the number of core searches conducted in July. Google Sites handled 7.4 billion core searches (up 2 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 2.3 billion and Microsoft Sites with 977 million.

In the comScore August 2008 analysis of the top properties where search activity is observed, Google Sites led with 10.2 billion searches, a 2-percent increase versus July.  That’s billion! Yahoo! Sites ranked second with 2.4 billion searches, followed by Microsoft Sites with 1 billion and AOL LLC with 839 million.

Trend #2 Search ain’t going nowhere.

According to Hitwise, MySpace.com received 67.54 percent of the market share of U.S. visits in August 2008 among a custom category of 56 of the leading social networking websites.  The market share of U.S. visits to the social networking site decreased 2 percent in August 2008 to 6.40 percent of all U.S. visits compared to July 2008. Visits to the category decreased 17 percent year-over-year. But check out the chart below:

What do those numbers mean to you? It means that MySpace had 66 million visits in one month and Facebook had 28 million. The fact of the matter is that social media and social networks are interwoven into the daily fabric of our lives. I know, it’s not like it’s earth shattering, it’s just not a fad anymore. It’s legit. It will continue to evolve and the potential will always be there for someone to do something different and exciting and unique with the social media application. Could that be you? I hope so.

Trend #3 Social networks will continue to evolve and grow larger and gain in importance.

A recently released UN study indicates that by the end of 2008 mobile phone use worldwide will reach 50% of the earth’s population for the first time in history. Although the percentage of mobile phones in North America, Western Europe and most of Asia is much higher than 50%, in developing countries, a mobile phone is still considered a luxury.

Mobile phone ownership rates have been rising significantly, almost at an exponential rate. Countries like  India, Brazil, and China are seeing crazy growth in the number of people owning a cell phone. In fact, China had an estimated one billion cell phone subscribers in 2007. At the current rate of growth, there will be over 3.3 billion cell phone subscribers worldwide by the end of 2008.

So there’s no escaping the fact that cell phones are now-another essential part of our daily lives. Grab the keys, grab the wallet, the purse, the backpack and the cell phone. Ok so we get that. But now, pay attention.

According to a recent online survey conducted by ABI Research, nearly half (46%) of those who use social networks have also visited a social network through a mobile phone. Of these, nearly 70% have visited MySpace and another 67% had visited Facebook. No other social networking site reached 15% adoption mobile adoption.

So what are these consumers doing when they access their mobile social network? They’re checking for comments and messages from their friends, with both of these features registering above 50% for mobile social network users. Posting status updates also has proven popular, with over 45% of mobile social users letting others what they are up to via their phone.
What we are seeing is a melding of 2 functions into one via the hub of the cell phone. Or is it the hub of the social network?  There’s no doubt that a social network is increasingly becoming a central hub for communication across online and mobile domains for a lot of people. Because it’s  allowing them to consolidate activities or processes. From text, to email, to chat, to phone calls, to exchanging of data, uploading images and downloading songs. The phone and the social net. allow thesee things to occur almost seamlessly. As a trend, the centralization of a consumer’s cell phone activities combined with their increased social network usage is only going to make adoption of mobile social networking more inevitable as we move forward.
Trend #4 The growth of the mobile social network will be steady and exponential.

Here is trend 4a for you as well:   comScore M:Metrics reports that in June 2008, 20.8  million U.S. mobile subscribers and 4.5 million European mobile phone subscribers  accessed search during the month, an increase of 68 and 38 percent from June 2007, respectively.  The U.K. had the highest penetration of mobile subscribers using search at 9.5 percent, followed closely by the U.S. at 9.2 percent.  That’s right, Mobile Search.

Ok last one-And it’s a no-brainer. Check out the slide below. It’s from December 2007, but the message is loud and clear.

Google Sites  ranked as the top U.S. video property in December with 3.3 billion videos viewed (32.6  percent share of videos), gaining 1.3 share points versus the previous month. YouTube.com accounted for more than 97 percent of all videos viewed at the property. Fox Interactive Media ranked second with 358 million (3.5 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 340 million (3.4 percent) and Viacom Digital with 238 million (2.3 percent).

In total, nearly 141 million Americans viewed online video in December. Google Sites also captured the largest online video audience with 79 million unique viewers, followed by Fox Interactive Media with 43.9 million and Yahoo! Sites with 38.2 million. So if you don’t already know it online video consumption is growing at a sick-ass rate.

Trend #5 Online video consumption will evolve into an acceptable replacement for a TV.

In conclusion, here’s the most interesting aspect of them all. The hub for all of the above trends can and will be centered on one thing, Your cell phone.

How does the user measure ROI in social networks?

I’ve been wrestling with this lately and maybe you can help. If I’m the social networking user and I frequent my favorite social network everyday, how should I measure my ROI? My investment of time to the site should be rewarded with what? The quality of my experience? What exactly is that? The number of people I meet? The real people I meet? the number of people I actually communicate with? The amount of conversations? Is it the stuff I create? The amount of personal interactions? the amount of micro interactions? The number of photos or songs I share?  Is it the quality of my everyday engagement?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes…..It’s all of those things. To each person, it is one of those, or all of the above.

So perhaps it looks something like this:

Do you see the dilemma though? I had previously written about user experience versus user interface, but what it really comes down to beyond the user experience is, the return on the user expereince or  the ROUE.  As a potential user of your social site, I need YOU the marketer, builder, architect or whomever- to show me quickly what my ROUE will be.  Because lets face it, I don’t want to work too hard to engage others or create content. Perhaps it’s the WIIFM paradigm? “What’s in it for me”.

Is it the tools that are available for the user to create UGC? Is that a big feature? It is for Myspace. Is it the ability to add hundreds of “friends”? It is to Facebook. Is it the ability to network with notable people in business? It is to LinkedIn. You see each site has a different ROUE to offer the user. What keeps the user coming back in each scenario is, when we boil it down- the response, the return, the pay-off, the money shot.  We are “geeked” by the response that we receive from whomever. The user investment for the user, is their time and efforts, and the reward for the user is a response from others. Write a blog and no one reads it, how much and how long will you write? It’s predicated on a response. Take nny user generated content created in a vacuum and the creator won’t be doing it for very long.

So perhaps the measurement should be Return on user effort as much as it is Return on user experience?  Think about why YouTube is so popular. Well, it’s a few things. It’s the ability to create content for free, the ability to share it, the possibility of getting noticed, a return on the user generated content, communicating with others, a response. Notoriety. 15 minutes of fame.

So next time you’re evaluating the NBT of social networks, Look at the ROUE.  Is the return on user experience and return on user effort very high? You should be able to determine that fairly quickly. In my follow up piece, I’m going to look at ROI and engagement and how we measure those as a barometer of social media success.

Viral Video #234

This video was sent to me via email and naturally I sent it on, because that’s what we do. But computer graphics notwithstanding, this is still a pretty cool, “wow” type of video.

 

Viral Message. When marketers hope we get it. Did you?

Here is a) a great message b) a video that has the potential to be viral and c) Is well done. .When you get to the end of the video, is it what you thought the message would be?

Addendum: Agencies are afraid of User Generated Content

A few days ago I wrote that the media was afraid of Web 2.0. I think what makes them more afraid, is the advent and wave of user generated content.  In an article specifically about this, titled Bud brings out the dude in consumers,  and written by Sean Egen,  Sean writes about how Anheuser-Busch decided to take things a step further by offering up its popular “Dude” campaign to the general public. And the results were impressive — even by Bud Light standards.

The offering took place in the form of a call for entries of consumer-generated “Dude” ads. Creators of the videos selected by Anheuser-Busch would be paid $5,000 each for their efforts. Along with the cash, they’d also get exposure in a highly visible online ad campaign. Bud Light would get fresh video content for a very reasonable price.effectiveone executive remarked at

“As for any concerns Bud Light may have had regarding the quality of consumer-generated content, those concerns were quickly overcome as submissions rolled in.

If you look at the current four Bud Light ‘Dude’ commercials that were produced by their agency, and compare them to our top 10 submitted versions, I think you’ll be remarkably surprised at how competitive ours are from a professionalism, acting, editing and sound point of view,” Perry said.

With what people are capable of putting together on little or no budgets anymore, the agencies should be quaking in their boots. Why? Dude…. Come on. Don’t you get it? Below is the Bud Lite Vid.

The Moonwalking Bear

This is courtesy of Dothetest

 Imagine…
A passer-by asks you for directions. As you talk to him, two workmen walk between you carrying a door. In a flash the passer-by switches places with one of the workmen, and you are left giving directions to a different person. Do you think you would notice?

Researchers at Harvard University played this trick on some unsuspecting people and over 50 per cent failed to spot the change.

This phenomenon is known as “change blindness” – only a tiny fraction of all the information going into your brain enters your consciousness. People often fail to see a change in their surroundings because their attention is elsewhere.

Even stranger, if you are concentrating on something, you can become blind to other events that you would normally notice. This “inattention blindness” is possibly the reason why motorists collide with cyclists.

Just as it is important for road users to keep an eye out for cyclists, cyclists must also take steps to ensure they are seen by motorists.