Repped by Andy Beal – Book Review

I consider Andy Beal to be the “Godfather” of online reputation management (ORM). His talk at Search Engine Strategies in 2006 was what really got me interested in the subject. The book he co-authored with Dr. Judy Strass, Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online is one I consider to be the textbook for those who want to get started in the practice of ORM. When I saw Andy had a new book out, I definitely wanted to check it out …

I consider Andy Beal to be the “Godfather” of online reputation management (ORM). His talk at Search Engine Strategies in 2006 was what really got me interested in the subject. The book he co-authored with Dr. Judy Strass, Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online is one I consider to be the textbook for those who want to get started in the practice of ORM. When I saw Andy had a new book out, I definitely wanted to check it out.

Cover shot of "Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation" by Andy BealRepped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation (Amazon Affiliate link) takes many of the concepts taught in Andy’s earlier work, combines it with a lot of newer information and puts it all together into a step-by-step set of instructions that will help anyone wanting to improve their own or their business’ online reputation. It takes readers through an A-Z process of

  • Understanding what an online reputation is
  • How online reputation can affect individuals and businesses
  • How to evaluate online reputation
  • Steps to take to improve online reputation (if it’s bad) or to solidify it (if it’s good)
  • How to weather an online reputation crisis.

This is a great guide for individuals or those who run small or medium-sized businesses. For those who are already ORM practitioners, Repped has a lot of great tips and ideas that will help you do your job better.

Here are some random quotes from the book and thoughts I jotted down as I read them:

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A deliberate effort to increase the number of positive Internet discussions about you, while limiting the damage of any negative ones. [Definition of ORM]

This is a great definition of ORM – short and to the point

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Your reputation will only ever be as good as your character. …  It’s the same with your reputation, but that’s something you can use to your advantage! …  keep in mind that by simply being a better person, a better company, a better non-profit, you’ll automatically start to improve your reputation.

If you spend the time to take an honest look at the way you conduct business, it should become apparent where you are weak. If you find yourself struggling, then ask others for their thoughts. Your employees, coworkers, customers, or business partners can all provide an impartial opinion on where they feel you are most weak.

This is very important. Trying to manage your reputation when you have terrible products and/or services is pointless. Use what you learn online as you work through the ORM process to improve yourself or your business offline.

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“It’s the Real Thing.”
“Because You’re Worth It.”
“We Try Harder.”

You probably recognize at least one of the above marketing slogans. Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, and Avis   have all spent a lot of time and money to ensure that their messages are stored away tightly in the recesses of your brain. Knowing where, when, and how each message is shared on the web is a priority for each of these corporate giants. Likewise, if you have a marketing message, tagline, or other slogan that is tied to your brand, you should include it in your online reputation management efforts.

Good point. Sometimes detractors can use your tag lines and catch phrases for the purpose of maligning your brand online.

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Hire employees that really want the job. Hire those that are passionate about your industry. Hire those that love what you do and will take a social media bullet to defend your online reputation. Then, empower them.

It’s amazing how one member of your team who cares (or doesn’t care, as the case may be) can have a tremendous influence on your online reputation. Everyone is a brand ambassador! This is key. It’s hard work to hire well, but it can pay off dividends in many areas … not just in ORM.

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Your online reputation is always changing, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking. Merely posting a couple of items and calling it a job well done is naive at best, and risky at worst. By continuing to share valuable and insightful blog posts, tweets, and updates, you grow your audience. You nurture your centers of influence.

Yes, this is an investment! Building out interesting and valuable content is one of the costs of doing business in the modern world. If you don’t pay the “content” cost, you’ll pay in other ways. This goes beyond ORM and is a long-term commitment. It’s not just “one and done.”

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Goodwill is earned when you unselfishly look to help those in your centers of influence. It’s earned when you tweet the post of an existing customer. You bank goodwill when you help one of your peers out by giving their latest video a thumbs-up. Goodwill also increases when you spend time sharing great content that doesn’t benefit you in any way but adds to the value of your stakeholders.

Think conversations, not broadcasts. Andy is certainly not the first person to talk about this, and he likely won’t be the last. With all the online experts with huge audiences from Brogan, to Stratten to Beal saying this, it’s amazing how many people have never caught on to this “secret.”

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There are two words that are vital to include in your vocabulary if you wish to build a better online reputation. The first is “sorry” and the second is “thanks.”

Most stakeholders who attack your reputation want just one thing: an apology.

Saying “I’m sorry” has repaired many damaged reputations.

These two phrases: “Sorry” and “Thank You” are key in ORM. Learn to say them!

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I once sought out a Trackur fan at a conference and specifically stopped him to thank him for all the retweets and social sharing he does of our online content.

I’m likely not the person Andy is referring to, but I can personally vouch that he is a very gracious person and is very quick to say “thank you.” This does positively affect his reputation both online and offline. Andy’s not just telling you what to do, he lives this stuff.

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The time to influence a customer review is before that customer ever gets to the computer. If you’re not interacting with your customer before they’ve completed their transaction with you, then you’re playing Russian roulette with your ratings.

I like to say, “Nothing happens in a vacuum.” What happens offline affects what happens online and vice-versa. It’s a continuous cycle.

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… it’s important to be proactive in building your Google reputation. In the absence of any positive content you’ve created, Google will fill the void in its search results with anything that it finds relevant – even if it is something negative. The best defense is offense and taking the time to mold your reputation now will better prepare you for when your reputation comes under attack. And it will come under attack.

This is VERY important. It’s much easier to weather an online reputation crisis when you’re on a strong foundation.

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When facing a reputation crisis   most people will ask, “What is it going to cost me to resolve this attack?” That’s actually the wrong question to ask. Better is to ask, “What will it cost me if I don’t resolve this attack?”

Repairing – Don’t underestimate how much time and money you will have to spend to clean up your online reputation. Many online reputation firms charge in excess of $10,000.

Yes! Bravo to Andy for bringing this up. It’s a hard question to ask, but very, very important. This question reflects attitude – and if you’re just looking to get rid of the “problem” you’re not going to fix the underlying issue … and not fixing the underlying issue will cause you a lot more problems down the road. Being proactive is important as well. “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

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Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation (Amazon Affiliate link) by Andy Beal – a great guide to ORM for individuals, those who run SMBs or those who wish to improve their online reputation practice skills.

Reputation Defense – PubCon New Orleans 2013

Notes taken during the Reputation Defense session at PubCon New Orleans 2013 which was moderated by George Aspland and featured presentations by Melyssa St. Michael, me and David Klein.

The Reputation Defense session at PubCon New Orleans 2013 was moderated by George Aspland

First up was Melyssa St. Michael

Reputation Management – A Three-Pronged Approach

  • Reputation is more about meeting consumer/customer expectation management – so it’s more like Expectation Management
  • There are many things outside your control which can effect your reputation
  • What can we control?
    • Domain Defense – Look for domains which can infringe on your brand
      • How much will you have to spend to fix brand problems when someone uses yourbrandsucks.com against you
      • Pay less now or more later … on domain research
      • Secure domains even if they are owned by others
      • Make sure to use a registrar who doesn’t share what you search for – privacy is good while doing this
    • Reputation Defense – Put your voice into the conversation
      • Prior to purchase, it’s all about “reviews”
      • You can’t control reviews, but you can control how you respond to them.
      • Try to take complaint conversations offline
      • Reputation defense isn’t just about responding – it’s about solving.
      • Try to turn a negative into a positive
      • It’s important to make a plan before a crisis happens
      • Keep track of everything so you can justify the time, effort and money spent on this effort.
    • Content Defense – Look for opportunities to build positive content to push down bad content in search
      • This only works when you address the first two prongs
      • Create content that meets your customers’ needs
      • Leverage promotions and deals to generate buzz and positive conversations around your brand
      • Find ways to generate positive activity online

The second presentation was by me. I did a case study which offered tips on how to manage an online reputation crisis as well as how online reputation monitoring ladders up into the 3-pronged approach covered by Melyssa.

Last up was David Klein

Google Reputation Management

  • How you look on the internet is important – When people Google you, what do they see?
  • Maybe it’s best not to worry about what the general public think – but it’s important to worry about what your customers or potential customers think
  • Individuals with a bad reputation care what people see when their name gets googled
  • Big companies care about what people think about their brands online
  • When doing domain defense, don’t forget .NET and .ORG domains
  • Use white hat link building for other sites with positive content about your brand
  • Don’t forget about SEO methods to get positive content to rank
  • Work with bloggers to get some positive content generated
    • Link to those blogs from the brand’s domain
    • The brand is considered most authoritative for the brand’s terms in search

PubCon Vegas 2012 – Day 2

Day two of PubCon Vegas 2012 was full of interesting news. Most notably was the announcement by Brett Tabke that webmasterworld.com has been sold to Internet Marketing Ninjas. I won’t give out all the details here, but you can read about the deal on the WebmasterWorld website.

Day two of PubCon Vegas 2012 was full of interesting news. Most notably was the announcement by Brett Tabke that webmasterworld.com has been sold to Internet Marketing Ninjas. I won’t give out all the details here, but you can read about the deal on the WebmasterWorld website.

I spent most of the day bouncing around site review and open mic sessions. My friend Jason Potts did a great job presenting on re-branding online properties when merging with or acquiring another company. The best tip from that session: Make sure you search on all the phone numbers of the company being acquired before they are turned off so you can identify as many of their online properties as you can.

The one session I did attend was Content Strategy, which was moderated by Rhea Drysdale. Here are my notes from that session:

What a Journalist Can Tell Us About Content Marketing
Robert Riggs Principal frontpageTV (@robertriggs)

  • Robert is an old-school media guy who was last with CBS and made the conversion to online after the old media implosion. He is a recipient of the Peabody Award.
  • Now pulling people into your online property instead of pushing info.
  • People love stories that entice, enchant, entertain, educate and evoke emotions.
  • Storytelling and imagery are in our DNA.
  • Even DARPA has done research in narrative styles of writing. Narrative writing is 4x more engaging than other types os stories.
  • Think of Shakespeare’s three-part narrative. He was a master of resonating on an emotional level.
  • Get your readers to identify with a person (hopefully the “good guy”)
  • Ian Lurie of Portent has a great way of describing what journalists do. Give Your Customers a Monster to Slay – Make them part of story, slay the monster and take its stuff.
  • Rob Snell does a great job telling stories on the Gun Dog Supply site.
  • Research shows pictures with animals releases oxtytocin and projects the images of being attractive and trustworthy.
  • Social media contacts also release oxytocin and builds trust. Shoot for 8 “social media hugs” per day.
  • Breaking news will attract a lot of good attention. If you can catch a story before it trends, you’re in a great place.
  • Titles are very important. “Don’t bury the lead” is an old journalism saying.
  • There’s nothing better than a great story, well told.

Content Strategy
Dan Sturdivant, Account Manager at Speakeasy  (@dansturdivant)

  • Content Marketing – Story telling and the sales funnel: The sales funnel isn’t a funnel any more, it’s a constantly revolving circle.
  • Focus on buyers issues and outcomes. It’s not about “me” anymore
  • If your content matches the customer’s need state, you can make a sale much quicker.
  • Content becomes an asset, which will live far beyond the initial posting.
  • Consider this: Red Bull isn’t an energy drink company so much of a content and story company.

Content Strategy
Phillip Thune, CEO Americas, Textbroker International (@textbroker)

  • Prepare your content: Audience, Attitude Attack Plan. This happens even before you put pen to paper or fingers to keys.
  • Who will think your stuff is great? Check demographics, locations and check social signals to make sure youu’re being effective. Keep going after stuff your audience is interested in.
  • Once again: It’s not about you … it’s about getting your audience interested.
  • Don’t lose your company style, though. You need to keep your voice while making content your audience will appreciate.
  • Even Best Buy is a content company. Even though they are selling stuff, the publish a lot of content about the things they sell.
  • Use an editorial calendar to keep your content consistent, plan for timing and resource availability and to brainstorm ideas. [When I talked to people after the session, they all said this was the best tip of the session. It’s very important, but so many neglect to plan out content.]
  • Be flexible in your calendar so you can jump on current, developing events and news.
  • Connect with your audiences interests, including things not directly related business.
  • Consider outsourcing for content ideas instead of getting pre-made content if you run out of ideas.
  • You can also outsource to freelancers, bidding sites and content companies if you need pre-made content.

Reputation Management: Monitoring Your Brand Online – PubCon Vegas 2012

Online reputation management has been a hot topic ever since I first heard about it at Search Engine Strategies in 2006. There have been a good number of ORM experts at each PubCon I’ve attended, and this one was no exception. I sat in on a ORM great panel …

Online reputation management has been a hot topic ever since I first heard about it at  Search Engine Strategies in 2006. There have been a good number of ORM experts at each PubCon I’ve attended, and this one was no exception. I sat in on a ORM great panel moderated by Richard Zwicky – CEO of BlueGlass (@rzwicky) …

Enterprise Level Reputation Management
Rhea Drysdale – Co-founder and COO of Outspoken Media (@rhea)

  • Rhea started going ORM when a previous employer tried to hijack her name for SEO purposes.
  • Yes, you can clean up SERPs, but the customer/organization has to change. ORM will not fix customer service or product issues.
  • In larger companies, ORM can be very challenging. This is especially true when dealing with IT limitations or legal departments.
  • In order to help ease people’s concerns is to take the emotion out of the equation and show the data.
  • Document and create a baseline in order to show positive changes.
  • Tools are great, but humans need to get in there and analyze the data. Human exchanges are hard to analyze automatically.
  • Don’t just break down mentions into “positive” or “negative” but break things down a bit more specifically so changes can be made and problems fixed.
  • You can’t just change the SERPs through SEO or other means. Change has to happen within the organization to fix real problems.
  • If a company doesn’t want to change, consider doing competitive analysis to show how change can help.
  • Find “quick wins” and present those first.
  • Define KPIs and report them. Things that benefit the bottom line are good ways to show success.
  • Establish brand guidelines or see if there are some already in place so you can make the ORM process smoother. Also, make sure to understand any approval processes and legal restrictions in order to see if there are any potential roadblocks and so you don’t waste time recommending changes which are not possible to make.
  • Fix your own site first … then look outside to social and review sites.
  • Establish a listening tool. Set clients up to be able to help themselves in the future.

Online Brand Management Strategies
Krista Neher, CEO of BootCampDigital (@kristaneher)

  • Everyone gets complaints about their business. The idea is to set up for success in the first place so you can turn negatives into positives. Create a positive reprensentation for your brand.
  • Your brand message isn’t what’s on your website … it’s what others are saying about you online. Consider asking customers to offer honest feedback – especially those who have great experiences with you.
  • People trust consumer opinions posted online … more than brand websites. That means it’s important to get your advocates to share their great experiences online.
  • Look towards influencing your brand perception, because you can’t control it.
  • Respond to negative mentions and thank people who make positive mentions.
  • Build a review strategy so you can balance positive reviews against negative reviews.
  • When responding to negative mentions, try to make them hate you less. They probably just want a response … acknowledge and fix the problem they’re complaining about. Helping out with problems can make some detractors into advocates.
  • Respond quickly and don’t censor.
  • Humanize your brand. People are less likely to hate on people than they are to hate on brands.
  • Listen and respond directly to the issue.
  • Thank people for caring … even if they disagree with you.
  • Be transparent and try to explain. Sometimes you can’t reveal everything, but be as honest as possible.
  • Know when to walk away. You win some and you lose some.

Social Crimes of Passion
Arienne Holland with Raven Internet Marketing Tools (@ravenarienne)
Arienne participated in my recent 3 Question Thursday series

  • Surprise combined with strong emotions can harm a brand.
  • Pay attention … damage to brand = damage to bottom line
  • People who overreact can cause more harm when dealing with online reputation issues.
  • People who are fed up can also cause more problems.
  • Lastly, those who are unprepared for online reputation problems can cause a lot of harm to the brand.
  • Being prepared helps eliminate mistakes.
  • Preparation – Answer the following questions:
    • Q1 – Who responds, when and how? Create a response guide for different contingencies
    • Q2 – On what occasions should you not respond. Sometimes you need to walk away or wait until you respond. Sometimes you need to vent offline to someone safe.
    • Q3 – What if you’re in the right? Sometimes you need to back off and not engage.
    • Q4 – When should you apologize? When should you not apologize? In preparation, learn how to best apologize.
    • Q5 – What should be the tone of your response?
  • You can be deliberate, lucky or stupid.

Reputation Management: A Three-Pronged Approach
Melyssa St. Michael, VP of Search and Emerging Media at Rockfish (@melyssatweeting)

  • Reputation management is really about expectation management.
  • There are things outside our control. We can control some things, though:
    • Domain Defense – Buy domains like “youbrandsucks.com” so you can keep others from using them. Budget for these purchases so you can buy new domains as you learn about them. Sometimes you need to go into legal proceedings to get domains which are already bought by someone else. Be proactive.
    • Reputation Defense – Prior to purchase, it’s all about “reviews.” “Reviews” plus brand terms is highly-searched during the purchase process. You can’t control the reviews, but you can control your responses to them. Build a process which helps you analyze comments and reviews and then build the process in how you respond via a style guide or playbook. Track responses
    • Content Defense – Create content which meets the needs of customers and contains keyword phrases for which you are trying to defend. Another way to combat negative attention, consider using a campaign to draw buzz, traffic and links. “Free” and “Deal” works great to attracting attention.

 

Book Review: The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome

Scott Stratten’s new book, The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome (Amazon Affiliate Link), is a great follow to his first book, Unmarketing. It’s actually two books in one, where one half of the book is the “awesome” part; flip it over and the other half is the “unawesome.” In the book, Scott takes us around the online world and shares some examples of people and businesses doing great and not-so-great things online. Some of the stories you may have already heard, some you haven’t. In either case, Stratten teaches some great lessons in how to be awesome in your business -or- how to avoid being unawesome.

The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome by Scott Stratten

Scott Stratten’s new book, The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome (Amazon Affiliate Link), is a great follow to his earlier work, Unmarketing. It’s actually two books in one, where one half of the book is the “awesome” part; flip it over and the other half is the “unawesome.”

Scott takes us around the online world and shares some examples of people and businesses doing great, no-so-great and absolutely atrocious things online. Some of the stories you may have already heard; but, with some additional, behind-the-scenes details you may not have heard, the stories become far more alive and interesting. Through the telling of these stories, Stratten teaches some great lessons in how to be awesome in your business -or- how to avoid being unawesome.

One of my favorite examples from the awesome side is this video done by some folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan, created in response to an article on Newsweek’s web site which declared the city was dying. It’s a little long, but an excellent showing of civic pride and a little “in your face” to those who would bust on Grand Rapids.

http://youtu.be/ZPjjZCO67WI

As I read the unawesome side, I could only think of some terrible experiences I’ve had with companies. I’ve written about some here, and I’m thinking about sharing some others. The bottom line is we should all strive to do better. After all, if you can be awesome without expending a lot of effort or capital, why not do it? Often, a little attention to detail will make a huge impression on your customers and differentiate you from you competition.

We all know it costs a lot less to keep a current customer than to gain a new one; and, yet, so often businesses go out of their way to gain new customers at the expense of ticking off their current (and often quite loyal) ones. If your business is part of the group always going after the new at the expense of the current, and you get some inspiration to unlearn that habit and start being awesome to all of your customers, then this book would be well worth reading.

All in all, the book is an easy read and is fun, entertaining, and teaches some great lessons. What more could you ask for?

Unmarketing Posters and Stickers by Scott StrattenI already had this book on my “To Read” list when I saw a post on the Unmarketing Facebook page offering to send a free copy to any veterans who wanted to read it. I responded right away and not only got a free copy of the book, but also a package of posters and stickers to go along with it. That’s awesome, right? Thanks to Scott for sending them along.

The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome by Scott Stratten (Amazon Affiliate Link) – an excellent book for those working in marketing, PR, customer service, SMBs, non-profits or anyone else looking for inspiration to be awesome in their business and have a few laughs in the process.

Disclaimer: Even though I received a copy of this book at no cost to me, this is my honest opinion of the work.