Professional Reputation Control or Insurance?

In today’s world it is far too easy to be ignorant of your online reputation. It is even easier for it to instantly vaporize and let someone tear it into a barely recognizable brand that you will fess up to being involved with. Every blog, community site, customer review, or competitor has hundreds of different options to voice viewpoints and concerns against a company. If you haven’t done it already… start understanding how to use tools to monitor social media and take proactive steps to keep your business in working order.

Your second option is to ask the simple question:

Can this happen to me?

Yep it sure can.

As a case example, I pulled a local article from Washington CEO Magazine on the Top 100 Companies to work for in 2007. I pulled some of the names off the list and did a quick query in Google. Here are some of the headlines I found on the proper names of the “Top 100” companies:

Result 7 – Zillow – Google Headline “How Good are Zillow’s Estimates?”
“Zillow came within 5% of the price in a third of the transactions studied by The Journal. It was more than 25% off target on 11% of them. In 34 of the 1,000 transactions, Zillow was off by more than 50%.”

  • Our view: If you are a user or an investor of Zillow, you’ve more than likely been exposed to this article and several like it. How does it make someone feel that the Wall Street Journal (considered to be one of the most respectable news sources) is saying Zillow zestimates are 50% off?

Result 6 – Comcast – Google Headline “A Comcast Technician Sleeping on My Couch” A Comcast cable technician came to replace a cable modem and fell asleep while waiting for the customer service group. As of this article it was viewed: 1,219,303 times! (At 58 seconds long, that is A LOT of bad reviews for Comcast.) It had 714 comments.

  • Our View: Holy smokes Batman. 1,219,303 views! I don’t know any company that wouldn’t suffer a marginal impact to marketing, sales, and customer service numbers when a million different people have watched how lackluster Comcast support is.

Result 3 – Spokane Federal Credit Union Review – Citysearch Review – “I had an account with Spokane Federal for many years and I was never really that impressed, they pretty much just took care of what I needed and nothing more, overall I would say that they met, not exceeded my expectations”

  • Our View: Even though Spokane Federal Credit Union has plenty of coverage, it would be easy to bump off a lack-luster review saying they are nothing but mediocre.

Result 3 – Zango – PC Hell: Zango Removal Instructions – “Zango is a entertainment site with free access to videos, music, games, and other downloads. The site is free to all users, but is paid for by advertisements. Visitors are presented with an end user license agreement that they accept before downloading any content.”

  • Our View: Here is a Desktop Software company that has hordes of people using Zango gaming software, and every time someone Google’s their name you get “PC Hell – Zango Removal Instructions” thrown at you. If I bought a desktop system that had them pre-installed on it, you can bet that I would remove it in a heartbeat. I don’t need some casual gaming platform slowing down my PC while I need to number crunch my data or send an important e-mail.

It doesn’t make a difference of who you are (how big, or how little), this can happen to you.
It happens to Comcast and Zillow.
It also happens to the little guys.

If you look at this problem from a strictly numbers point of view, Comcast buys it’s own keyword of “comcast” from Google so that it can keep company branding and results at the top of Google. If I were to buy that keyword, it would cost roughly $1.25 per click, and there are 5500 estimated clicks per day on it (that is a daily budget of $6000 to $8000 per day on that keyword).

If Comcast is paying only $.25 per visitor for that keyword… imagine that those 1,219,303 video views cost Comcast a minimum of $250k in lost “clicks”, not counting how many customer service problems and public relations issues it causes.

Read these articles to start examining your own brand:

Social Media Measurement and Brand Control.

Can the Web Destroy Your Business? Yes it can.

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Online Reputation Measurement and Analysis

I receive plenty of feedback from peers in the social media space about “reporting and analysis” of the metrics behind online conversations. How do you measure buzz, authority, perspective, bias, trending, cost? All of the above? A mixture of it all?

Regardless of what you measure, with social media the latest information is the most relevant. As a part of this ideology I wanted to go back to last year and clip an article that I wrote in September of 07. While the dates have changed a little- the unfortunate problem it covers in our industry is growing bigger and bigger (rather than smaller).


Having been a consultant regarding online media for over a decade, I am constantly growing very weary of informational white-paper companies that are charging top dollar for “analysis” of an industry that is forever changing. In my previous life working at a Fortune 50 company on interactive projects, I can tell you that far too many “big boy” companies are absolutely relying on the wrong informational sources to make huge decisions. This old-school system is leading more and more companies down the path of digital suicide.

Today I was sent a reminder about a white paper from IDC, an analyst and research company that defines itself as“the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 900 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 90 countries worldwide.”

While I have no doubt that IDC and companies like it have some amazing information to browse through and collect, I do find that information research firms are moving more and more into “uncharted waters” where they seem to have little actual experience.

Enter Social Media.

The U.S. Social Networking Application 2007–2012 Forecast and Analysis only costs $4500 from IDC.

For purposes of full disclosure, I did not buy this report for two main reasons:

At 22 pages long, it barely has enough room to address the 10+ companies it details.

Every day since it was published in August, 2007 – more and more details become completely irrelevant.

I also didn’t buy it… because just reading the description left me asking questions:

How does a comprehensive report of this topic only have 10+ companies? Last time I checked my bookmark list and personal research papers, there were hundreds of social networking applications.

Why would anyone actually pay $4500 for a white paper that has old data with minimal focus to your business, when for $4500 I can point you to several amazing consultants (some on my team, some on other teams) that will write a 22 page breakdown of how social networking/media affects YOUR business?

When will decision makers and researchers realize that this marketplace is changing on a daily basis? By the time I hit “post” on this article… chances are that some of the information could already be old. The top “movers and shakers” in the world of social media, community applications, widgets, digital communications, and everything Web 2.0 and beyond are creative and fluid thinkers that are making decision based on the “here and today”, not what happened last month.

If you are reading this, you probably realize the social media marketplace is about thinking outside of the box and understanding what potential is right around the corner. Leveraging this technology is about keeping an ear to the ground and a voice in the conversation. It is about new possibilities.

This industry is about understanding that at 2:00 AM this morning, some geeky college intern is eating a bowl of Cheerios and finishing his coding of the next Google, or creating the next FaceBook platform that will change the way the market works. There is no “on-going consistency” in the online world. It is fluid, changing, and amazingly imaginative.

For $4,500… people can stop relying on already dated information and actually get some real consulting about what is happening today.


I know that old article was a little abrasive, but as an industry participant my responsibility is to raise my hand and voice concern over obvious problems. I have written about things like ethical media consulting, talked about how social media influencers are targets of media manipulation, that ANY business can perform social media measurement and brand control, and have even written up a social media manifesto defining some of my personal beliefs about this industry.

As a professional in my space, I make every attempt to be a thought-leader and thought-provoker. I share my expertise freely, hoping that readers take a moment to think about the “how and why”, motivating them to change a broken industry trend within their own sphere of influence.

Why? This industry is about making BIG decisions that have a “trickle down” effect that changes the way millions of professionals do business. If you do not ask some of the bigger questions and examine the why of how data is created and manipulated, then you become guilty of blindly accepting of “how things are”

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