Online Reputation, articles from our founder

In addition to some of the exclusive content here @ Social Media Reputation, our founder’s blog has a variety of informational articles covering the crossroads of online privacy, reputation management, and corporate risk. He deals with a variety of elements that touch within these three spheres, while also looking at the benefit points within each.

If you would like us to review a specific reputation management item or dive deeper into one of these issues, simply contact us and we’ll take a look at it! You can also follow our tweets @ceoreputation

  • Online Privacy and our Digital Crisis – there is so much data created, shared, collected, and sold about us as individuals that we all need to take more responsibility for.
  • Corporate Reputation on Complaint Sites – businesses spend a huge amount of effort creating on-going reputations, but new ‘net savvy’ businesses are using complaint sites to steal brand traffic and cause significant damages.
  • Reputation Management and Work Life Balance – tired of having a split personality online? this article talks about the details and reasoning behind a personal and professional online presence.
  • Avvo Ratings, why lawyers and doctors should be scared – attorneys and doctors are low-hanging “SEO Fruit” to own online. Find out how different professional niches are being targeted by new online business models to steal online brand traffic that includes prospects, clients, employees, and more.

If you have any questions about digital brand or reputation management, please feel free to use the comments below or share some questions via e-mail.

Hotel Reputation, TripAdvisor being targeted to comply

Destination owners who are suffering from hotel reputation problems caused by TripAdvisor and similar review sites may have a light showing up at the end of the tunnel.

KwikChex (a  U.K. based online monitoring service) released a press release targeting negative reviewers, saying that it plans to publish a list of suspects that are fraudulent and defamatory.

While this sounds like a good step forward against complaint sites that affect business, we are just beginning to see a round of industry centric lawsuits regarding online reputation. In August Google was ordered to name anonymous online bullies. This further defined precedent cases for online slander and libel in the U.S., while opening up other international conversations like those involving TripAdvisor.

Chris Emmins, Co-founder of KwixChex – is leading a legal challenge in the U.K. that has amassed 800+ properties and how TripAdvisor affects hotel reputation.

The reality is that this ‘trend’ is costing the hotel industry millions of dollars.
(as we previous covered in Hotel Reputations, search brand value under attack )

According to Tnooz Travel Tech Talk, Chris had confirmed several aspects of the case being brought fourth:

  1. Cases based on TripAdvisor allegedly being responsible for misrepresenting standards/quality of businesses that its systems have singled out.
  2. Cases where serious allegations have been made that have been supposedly supported by TripAdvisor by means of a pop-up stating: “This review was written by a trusted member of the TripAdvisor community”. Kwikchex claims this is an endorsement.
  3. Court action to disclose information on identities of posters making defamatory comments.

TripAdvisor is fighting back on hotel reputation, issuing “red boxes” against hotels that attempt to manipulate review results –

“TripAdvisor has reasonable cause to believe that individuals or entities associated with or having an interest in this property may have interfered with traveller reviews and/or the popularity index for this property. We make our best efforts to identify suspicious content and are always working to improve the processes we use to assess traveller reviews.”

This is just the beginning, not the end

While companies like KwikChex are moving forward to target negative hotel reputation and review sites, such properties have a list of rights and protections regarding free speech. Outside of hotel reputation issues, complaint sites such as RipoffReport and have both managed to win court cases defending negative commentary.

Businesses dealing with hotel reputation or online reputation management issues need to be aware that legal systems are decades behind our web usage trends.
There are few (if any) up-to-date laws regarding the specifics of how internet conversation is monitored, managed and regulated.

As new laws are written, it is fairly common to see ‘web enabled’ companies like TripAdvisor have pre-existing migration paths to newer methodologies that are NOT covered by current legal decisions.

This effectively places web content companies in a continual 18 to 60 month process gap that regulating and legal groups cannot catch up with. (it is the very nature of many web content business models to target business models that have undefined business opportunities and little existing precedent.)

If you know of any hotel reputation problems worth checking out, leave a comment below or tweet us @ceoreputation

Reputation Insurance, why it makes good sense

Like any asset, there are hundreds of unforeseen risks that are associated with online reputation. A common viewpoint shared by many business executives is that they don’t know how to gauge how virtually explosive different aspects of their business model are. If you don’t know what smoke is, you probably can’t justify cost of fire insurance.

The cost and risk are real.
(Let us use a little example below)

As the size of a business increases, an exponential multiplier of risk is applied to the digital model:

  • more consumers increase opinionated reviews
  • more employees increase HR related violations
  • more marketplace share increases chance of competitive arson
  • exposure to social networks increases chance of
    • confidential leaks and privacy disclosure (family, friends, bedroom talk.)
    • ethical misbehavior (executive compensation, regulation violations)
    • employee / x-employee complaints (unions, disgruntled employees)

Read more

Xfinity vs Comcast, No Reputational Escape?

Earlier this month (February  2010),  Comcast made the announcement of shifting over several products to a new brand: Xfinity. The downside to the brand revamp appears to be a spiral effect of news channel, industry critics, and industry peers passing along a series of criticisms trying to rebrand reputation.

Unfortunately it isn’t going so well for Xfinity. Starting with Reuters article “Comcast Seeks Reputation Change with Xfinity brand“, critic after critic is asking big questions about the rebrand effort.  In essence, the brand was not what was the target of the change (its reputation was.)

This is a digital issue we have covered before (Supermedia, Idearc, Verizon, and GTE) , as companies continue to re-brand business units in an attempt to fix areas of concern in online reputation and real world business issues.

A core problem of these rebrand efforts is the digital portion, where conversations connect old brands to new brands, along with some related problems on the side of search engine results. Read more

5 tools for Free Reputation Management

Everyone wants to keep up with the digital conversation and know what people are saying about you through blogs and twitter. You need to be proactive in listening to conversations that are important to you.

There are three basic components of reputation management:

  1. Listening to the conversation (read this article!)
  2. Being proactive and highlighting your information with professional information (read profiles for professionals & executive URLs, personal domains)
  3. Getting involved in the conversation (check out executive branding & online reputation)

Before venturing into your effort, we need to identify a list of things you want to monitor. We don’t want to waste time or energy focusing on the wrong things. Read more

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”

social media community subscription

Corporate Brand and Reputation – How Digg Kills

Corporate social media is a huge buzz phrase. A company’s brand online- through social media reputation and word of mouth marketing is beginning to have more and more weight in today’s marketplace. In the past, the saying used to be that one bad customer could relay the story to ten you never met. In the social media world, one customer can reach thousands they have never met (sometimes millions). Today’s contender for brutality to a companies reputation is “The Worst Company in America Award“, via Digg, Google, and a million online readers.

This years contest winner was Countrywide Home Loans. 123 deals with companies having severe reputation and brand problems online, but Countrywide beats most of them on a scale of how problematic it can be.

I first found out about the tongue-in-cheek contest at Digg. The story had received over 1000 “thumbs up” votes. When an article receives that many votes the information is pushed onto the front page of Digg (which has 230 million+ pageviews/month and 26 million uniques) where it sat for the better part of a day. That roughly equates to about six million page views, along with 161 comments.

Examining the “big picture” of the “Digg Effect” brings in some truly amazing numbers when you search the site for other articles including Countrywide. In the past year they have had many articles involving them (all bad) submitted to Digg, with a total of 11,820 votes. Multiply the number of page views by the number of times one of the stories found itself on the homepage and you have a much bigger issue.

Most marketers immediately think that the damage is self-contained to the community users of Digg. Unfortunately Google loves Digg. Stories reaching the front page often emblaze themselves permanently into the search terms for the article. In this case – the term was “Countrywide Home Loans

Countrywide Social Media Reputation

Within 24 hours, the Digg story was prominently on the sixth result for Countrywide’s own name- reading ” Digg-Worse Company in America – Countrywide Home Loans”

By the end of the day Google had found the original content for the site running the contest and replaced it with the actual link to the consumerist article.

On the Consumerist site, the two originating articles that ended the contest received 31,000 and 34,000 views, with a total of 266 comments.

Before counting all the social media traffic that read these articles, we can assume that some of the 189 to 236 people a day who search for “Countrywide Home Loans” also read the articles when they see the search result.

How much brand damage does social media expose a company to? I would say a lot. In Countrywide’s case, proudly displaying the “Worse Company in America” title on your own name via Google is costing them millions.

Countrywide Home Loans has also found itself displayed on two other sites: where a neglected author states “Please take the time to read my story and see how I was ripped off by Countrywide Home Loan.” and which is a community forum that has 446 conversational threads about Countrywide.

Some other examples of how social media is driving reputation into the ground:

Growing Pains Hit Dell’s Customer Service: In 2004 CNET had a review of Dell’s customer service, garnishing 129 comments. As time went on, customers lovingly began referring to dealing with Dell customer service as “Dell Hell

Other sites dedicated to promoting company mistakes:

Rip-Off Report: Probably the most well known reputation destroying site, this site ranks in Google’s top ten search results for all sorts of rip-offs and scams, as an example case PepBoys (the auto store chain) has 115 mentions on the site. In the search engine world, Ripoff Report has been reviewed by experts like myself and Rand Fishkin over who examined if Rip-Off Report was merely a scam and extortion scheme. This site ranks in Google’s top ten search results for companies like Capitol One, featuring a dozen or more reviews of the company that have received three to five thousand readers in the past two months.

If you have stake in a company, take some of the steps required to protect your brand and assets online. I’ve included links below to some of my articles on reputation control and brand protection, in addition to ways you can monitor and leverage different online assets in your favor.

Executive Reputation Profiles

There are more professional networking and community sites today than you can shake a stick at. Yet as a professional business person, you need to have a presence on some choice locations to network with others, establish a communication channel, protect your reputation, and establish a brand for your company. In the online world, you have approximately ten seconds to “sell yourself” to a casual viewer. Depending on the method they find your information however, they may not be a casual viewer. They may actually be a “investigative prospect” actively looking for information about who you are.

The first place 99% of these viewers is going to begin looking for you online is in a search engine (Google / Yahoo / etc). Whether the profile in question is an individual or business one, establishing proper profiles on social media sites can increase search recognition, bolster traffic on specific phrases, and control how visitors perceive your information and presence. You need to have a PROFESSIONAL profile, image, and brand

What is a Professional Social Media Profile?

A professional social media profile is created like a well-tuned resume. It is your chance to high-light the best parts of who you are.

It is a “go to” source of information on you, your company, and the brand both entities have online. A well thought profile has the ability to influence readers and promote your brand. It also has the ability to act as a hub of information about different items such as reputation, testimonials, and reviews of your professional life.

Who needs one?

Everyone. Every business. Every team.

How many do you need?

The more the merrier.

Why does everyone need one? Why have multiple profiles?

The world of “search engines” is an evolving creature. When someone looks for your name or the name of your business online, what are they going to find? If you don’t have some established and professional profiles, they are going to find what someone else said about you or be subject to some company putting up random information on the search results of your name.

If you are “John Doe” the professional for instance, it is useful to understand that at least a few people have searched for your name online in the past six months. Depending on the exact industry and way you present yourself in the real world, that could lead to anywhere from one to thousands of monthly searches for your name.

Each profile you have online allows the search engines to have one more valid (and informative) result about who you are. If you have five different profiles online, when someone does a search for “John Doe” it increases the chance of having multiple results for your name on the first page of the search results. If you have a highly competitive name (and there are thousands of people named John Doe) you can link them properly to your website, e-mail, newsletter, and business cards to help enhance your brand control.

Most importantly- profiles you create have YOUR information and are under YOUR control.

As a professional, when was the last time you blindly trusted a random person to tell someone else who you were? If you have been in business for any length of time, the answer is probably a long time ago or never.

If you avoid having at least one professional social media profile, you are literally throwing yourself at the mercy of a stranger. They could say good or bad things, provide correct or wrong information, or purposely mislead someone into thinking something about you.

Where can you get a social media profile?

There are literally hundreds of sites that can create a profile on to help control your brand. Some example sites:


What are some of the uses for having a profile?

  • You can use it to establish credibility.
  • You can coordinate your reputation.
  • You can catalog your testimonials (Namyz and Linkedin)
  • It can connect your online brand and offline brand (use it on your collateral)
  • You can pro-actively have an impact on your reputation.
  • It becomes a business and professional asset, growing with time.
  • It gives your audience (prospects, clients, and peers) a place to interact with you.

Why is all this important?

While some companies focus on “the top”, this is a fundamental problem in online marketing and brand promotion. Top results in search technology and branding are created by establishing a presence in many different places. You want people to have easy and quick access to accurate and worthwhile information about your professional brand. You also want viewers to recognize you as a leader in your industry and an expert in your area of focus.

How do I Create Professional Social Media Profiles?

Step One: Use strategy. Before you start creating profiles and running amok through dozens of social media sites, sit down and detail why you are creating these profiles. Securing a personal brand name, achieving higher search engine results, and exposing your company message to the community are all good goals. Each and every user of social media is going to have different personal and professional goals.

  • How do you want to present yourself?
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Will you be active in the community?

Step Two: Identify the information you want communicate. To save a lot of time and effort, collect the information you want to share with the world. If this is a professional application to enhance your career status, have an updated resume on hand and highlight the information you want to use. Consistent and clear information through-out a social media project is essential.

It is best to have a semi-polished presentation to your profile, but also try to understand the tone and culture of the site the specific profile is on. Every social networking site has a different demographic on it (Myspace is youthful and hip, Linkedin is professionals, Biznik is entrepreneurial) and while someone may find your profile through a search engine, you also have the opportunity to interact with the community on the site itself.

  • What name do you want to use? This is important- as your name will be a primary way people find this information through searching.
  • What keywords do you want to be found under? In any profile system that allows titles, descriptions, and other information- your priority keywords should be used.
  • What visual picture is going to represent you? Almost every profile allows an image, have a company logo and profile image handy.
  • What testimonials can you share? Everyone has a few good things other people have said.
  • When your business was established
  • What type of products and services you offer
  • What your IDEAS and INSIGHTS are.
  • Who is your ideal client (your target market)

Step Three: Where will I be and who will I be with? Social Media has the word “social in it for a reason. Utilizing your existing network is the quickest way to get a boost to the results that your profiles can have online. Below is a brief sample of sites that some of my information appears on. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites that information could appear on.

Step Four: Invite people to participate. While there are branding and minor search engine benefits of social media, the true benefits come from actively participating in the medium by invited associates and other like-minded professionals to connect.

  • Jump start your social media profiles by writing a quick e-mail to your top 25 contacts and inviting them to see your information.
  • Make a monthly effort to invite 5 to 10 new connections.
  • Choose one new social media site each month and create another profile.

Step Five- Taking it to the next level.

Educate yourself and join the conversation happening around your professional interests. Read some of the following articles to better understand how some of these issues interact with each other and how you can maximize your time and effort to produce results.