Online reputation – Social media business strategies blog Sun, 25 Mar 2018 22:10:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Online reputation – 32 32 Search + Social = Online Reputation Sun, 04 Dec 2016 16:00:50 +0000 Continue reading ]]> monopoly-go-to-jail-card-rt

Chris AbrahamI have been doing online reputation management (ORM) for clients since 2003. There’s one thing that everyone who comes to my door has in common, whether it was for NMS, Abraham Harrison, Reputation, Gerris, or now for Status Labs: too little content online! Generally-speaking, the richer the mogul, the more élite the individual, the more likely they’ve tried to keep off Google’s radar, keep out of the index. Moreover, moguls, oligarchs, and high-net-worth individuals tend to be both too busy and private to invest the time and energy registering, building out, and keeping fed a small army of social media profiles, including more than just LinkedIn.

When you’re already in the millionaires and billionaires club, privacy and discretion do work — until it doesn’t. The typical global oligarch, autocrat, tycoon, and magnate generally doesn’t need to personally shill, promote, or brand-build in order to maintain and expand their power and influence.

Even if they’re not yet in the $100 million club, successful and experienced doctors, lawyers, businessmen, consultants, lobbyists, and all the happy members of the professional class, generally don’t need to spend that much time online doing content marketing and endlessly planting, feeding, watering, and pruning their social networks, their corporate website is generally the only top-ranking search result that they actually control.

Actually control. There’s the rub. Millionaires, billionaires, and professional class do show up on Google search, but most of these results are from the news, third-party mention, Wikipedia, and generally anything and everything that Google can find. And a lot of those results, lacking new, fresh, directly-relevant, textual content, can be pretty extreme and, if there’s just not a lot of relevant content, Google will go deep into the past, will combine near-names and sound-alikes.

At the end of the day, Google is pretty literal and lazy when there’s plenty of content in its index; however, when there’s nothing out there save maybe a cursory brochureware website with the requisite bio page, the Google algorithm can suddenly become mighty resourceful and creative — a lot less dumb than you may be used to.

Google abhors a vacuum.

What all these super-successful titans have in common is that while their strategy of content and personal profile minimalism is successful and probably preferable in the best of times, the lack of ownership and control of both positive and neutral content profiles, pages, and sites can also make them impossibly vulnerable to Internet attacks.

Because wealthy and busy people can thrive without aggressive online brand promotion and marketing content strategy, the Google index tends to grasp at straws, desperate looking for as relevant as possible textual, graphical, photographic, image, and video content  content; therefore, just about anyone can jump into a vacuum and populate that old and irrelevant content with whatever content they like — at least for a while.

And if and when you draw that kind of attention, it’s usually negative. It can be devastating even for the millionaire and billionaire, who often rely very heavily on their reputations and the value of their investment holdings.  For the professional class, it’s even more essential: accusations of fraud and malfeasance and malpractice can gut a business’ cash flow, from a 10% decimation to complete annihilation.

What you need to do is armor-up, soldier!

It’s simple. Just start working today, right now, on creating as much content as possible, across as many social networks and free sites such as Medium, Tumblr,, Blogger, etc, as possible.

I am assuming you’re either rich or smart right now so I recommend you secure $649 for KnowEm’s Corporate Complete package, which gets someone else to work with you to register and populate 300 social media profiles with all profile info including photos, bio, URL and description.  It’s pretty cheap for what you get and the folks at KnowEm will be happy to make any updates or changes you need. They do superb work.   I would probably pony up for their $59.95 Brand Protection service which automatically reserves your name on new sites as they are launched.

The entire process is as easy as putting together one good bio page or LinkedIn profile.

KnowEm does have lower-price solutions, from $84.95 for 25 profiles, $249 for 100 profiles, $349 for 150 profiles, and the big guns, $649 for 300 profiles. They do end up giving you the logins and passwords for all of your accounts, so you’re not locked out, but you can work with them like they’re a consultancy and I am sure they’re happy to listen to your personal needs, strategy, and campaign requirements.

And if you’re cheap or suspicious, you can start today basically for free plus whatever sweat equity you’re willing to put in.  Like normal people do. By registering for lots and lots of social media and publishing platforms and then carefully and personally fully-populating each one of these profiles with your name.

The goal, of course, is to own as many search results as you can — own, not just news about you — across the first two pages of Google search. What of Bing and Yahoo!? Well, if you can make Google dance then Bing and Yahoo! will be eating out of your hands.

There a lot more information I could go into. Just be sure to explicitly write out your name, using the name that someone who hates you might use instead of your formal full name.  Chris Abraham instead of Christopher James Abraham. Billy Bob Thornton instead of William Robert Thornton. But don’t limit yourself to just that version of your name, just start from there and make it the basis for your profiles.  In your bio, even if it reads poorly, be sure to avoid pronouns and keep your name in there.  Google only indexes proper strings of text. If you include images or videos, be sure to take the time to label them completely, making sure you include your name in the titles, in the descriptions, and in any ALT or meta tags you have access to.

Good luck!  While this is exceedingly laborious and time-consuming, it’ll be so worth it in the eventuality that you’re ever under attack, even if this never happens.  Either way, there’s a certain amount of prestige associated with controlling your reputation online, so it’s not remotely a waste of your time.

Via Biznology

4 best practices to establish your personal brand Wed, 17 Jun 2015 18:47:23 +0000 Continue reading ]]> personal-brand
Photo courtesy of University of Salford Press Office (Creative Commons BY)

Post by Taylor Tomita

Taylor2In a world that is becoming engulfed in technology, the relevancy of social media continues to skyrocket. We’ve seen businesses come to terms with the fact that they have to become more social to remain relevant.

But what about you? Just as companies are finding their voice and creating a social presence, you have your own opportunity to create a personal brand and burnish your online reputation. Whether you are a business owner, the host of a podcast or an independent agent, it’s important to hone your personal brand if you’re to establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry.

What’s the best way to achieve that? Here are four best practices in establishing your personal brand.

Revamp your social media presence

1An issue with many social media users in this day and age is that they set up their personal profiles, and that’s pretty much it. While getting on social media is a good starting point for your efforts, being able to actually use social media effectively is what you’ll need to succeed. Here are some ideas on how to do that:

Step 1: Don’t be the egg! When you first log into Twitter, the first thing you should do is change your avatar from the classic “egg” avatar. Changing your avatar to an actual picture of yourself is a great starting point to ensure your Twitter profile will gain traction within your community. After all, nobody wants to communicate with an individual who doesn’t care enough to show the world his or her face. After attaching your face to your personal brand, it’s important that you beef up your profile; interests, qualifications, education are all topics to consider when trying to set yourself apart from anyone else in the community.

Step 2: Test the waters. After you get your profile created and are confident that you will not be mistaken for a breakfast dish at first glance, the next step is to venture out into the world of your online community. Simply doing this will allow you to see what is being talked about within your industry and allow you to craft a plan on how you will present yourself to the community. This plan should incorporate who you are engaging with, what time of day is best to engage the community, as well as what type of content your community is looking for. Saying the right thing to the right person at the right time can skyrocket your success into the social media world.

Step 3: Dive in. Once you figure out what exactly it is that you are going to do, it’s time to dive in! One of the best tactics to getting yourself and your brand out into the world is participating in industry-related chats. Twitter chats are generally favored throughout all industries. Regardless of what communication platform you are using, it’s important that you engage the individuals in these chats by answering questions thoughtful and providing useful, preferably keyword-rich advice.

Tools to use

Thankfully there are a multitude of tools that can help you in executing a successful social media campaign. While each campaign is different and may call for different tools, here are a few to keep in mind to start you off on the right foot.

Klout: A fantastic social media tool, Klout allows you to find the thought leaders in your industry and will help you craft shareable content within that industry. Klout also offers a unique tracking feature – your Klout score – which shows you the impact of your social media campaign.

TakeOff: TakeOff is another great tool that will help you boost your success through the Instagram world. This tool analyzes the best time for you to post your content, schedule posts accordingly, and it will supply you with the most relevant hashtags to use when posting.

Tweet Reports: Tweet Reports is a tool that will help you boost your presence on Twitter. This tool offers a free Twitter chat schedule that will allow you to know exactly when your next chat is so you can prepare to impress the community. Tweet Reports also offers a plethora of other tools like brand monitoring and Twitter analytics.

Don’t get overly focused on the tools: The key to success in social media – much like elementary school P.E. class – is participation. Social media is a great, free route to personal branding and if done correctly can assist you in blasting off into the realm of personal branding.

Become your brand

2Time and time again we see individuals trying to create their personal brand but falling short of making an impression within their sector. Simply chiming in on a Twitter chat or the occasional +1 on Google Plus is not enough to establish yourself as a thought leader in your community.

No matter what industry you’re focused on, you must study that industry and become knowledgeable in the topic. Doing this will give you the ability to answer questions people may have, talk about relevant issues or topics, and become a respected authority in the community. Here are some tips and techniques to help you stay on top of the latest information in your area of focus.

Tools to use

Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a great tool to use to monitor the Web for your industry. All you need to set it up is a Gmail account and a few keywords that you want to monitor. Google does the rest by scanning new content on the Web and will email you any new content that arrives mentioning your inputted keywords. This will help you keep up with any changes or news within the industry.

Reddit: Reddit is a worldwide user forum. This website covers a wide range of topics and will more than likely have an established community for any industry you are looking for. These communities can be a great resource and news source — and it goes both ways, so make sure you share any insights or news you come across. Bonus: Reddit is also full of pictures of adorable animals.

MosaicHub: MosaicHub is a great resource for individuals and businesses alike. This website covers topics like social media, branding, and a variety of other topics. MosaicHub’s expert directory provides a networking hub for professionals in all of these categories. The site also allows you to share insightful resources with the community to help build the authority behind your personal brand.

The success of branding yourself within an industry on the Internet can lead opportunities outside of the Internet and social media. Much like a successful business, establishing yourself as a thought leader in an industry can lead to you regularly being asked to participate in webinars or attend conferences where you can share your knowledge out to a community – spreading your authority even further. While this is an incredible opportunity, you must ensure that you are armed with all of the information that will be discussed within the meeting – nobody wants to be stuck in an hourlong conference featuring a thoughtless space cadet.

Put your community before convenience

3While using social media tools and being an established individual in your industry is an important aspect of personal branding, an issue that is seen time and time again is a person’s inability to engage with a community. Have conversations! Remember the “social” in social media.

While using post-scheduling services or offering canned responses is convenient, these types of services can open opportunity windows that will end up hurting you or your brand in the long run. Part of a successful personal branding campaign is taking the time to respond to any feedback you are receiving — a simple “Thanks” or “I’m sorry” will not cut it. There are lots of tools to help you manage large-scale communication without removing your personality from the mix.

Tools to use

Dayviewer: Dayviewer is a free online tool that will allow you to create a schedule to follow on a day-to-day basis. Creating a schedule will allow you to set aside an hour per day to sit down and respond to emails that may have been set aside.

Checker Plus: Checker Plus is a Gmail extension that comes in handy when handling multiple email accounts. This tool includes a desktop notification feature that will give you a pop up in the corner of your screen to notify you when any of your email accounts receive a new email — regardless of what account is signed in.

Create shareable content

4Creating long-lasting content can be one of the main struggles on the road to personal branding success. While informing people is the main concern in content creation, it is just as important to ensure the information you are providing is laid out in an easy-to-read, sharable, and visually satisfactory fashion. Infographics, tutorials, and article writing are all great ways to provide tasteful information to your community, and if they are well thought out it opens the opportunity up for your content to be shared — expanding your personal brand to a new group of viewers.

Due to certain communities calling for certain types of content, it’s important to analyze your community to ensure you are providing what they want to read. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating content.

Be broad: Being broad is the key to content creation. No, that doesn’t mean to create something that is completely random and useless to your community. It means that when you are creating content it’s great to look at an entire demographic rather than one individual. Doing this will allow you to create content specific enough to actually be useful but will have potential to be shared throughout a large range of people.

Here are a few examples of some “broad” infographics that I’ve found work well:

Emedco’s GHS Infographic. While Emedco offers safety supplies to all types of industries, this infographic was created with the demographic of “chemical workers” in mind, outlining a very specific change in chemical handling laws. This infographic is broad enough to appeal to a very large community, while being specific enough to provide relevant information within that community.

Bay View Funding’s Thanks a Trucker Infographic. Bay View Funding geared this infographic towards a specific demographic that they serve – truckers. While this content is not entirely specific to the company’s services, it is an interesting read that can be shared throughout an industry. This is another great example of creating broad content.

Find out what your community wants: After you have decided on which demographic will be best to create a piece of content for, it is important that you analyze that demographic to find out what types of content are doing well within that community. For example, if you notice a lot of step-by-step tutorials being shared and discussed throughout your community, it may be a good idea to compress the information you provide into a step-by-step guide to fit in with the content they enjoy. Thankfully there are tools to help you accomplish this and we will talk about those in just one moment.

 Provide useful information: Now that you have chosen a demographic and researched that demographic for the perfect type of content, it is time to create. When creating your piece it is important to ensure it will be visually appealing, while also being easy to read. However, most importantly you must be positive that the information you are providing is actually going to be useful to a large majority of this targeted demographic. So do your research and take your time when building content. After all, nobody wants to read an article on something they already know everything about.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.45.38 AM
Venngage: a free tool for creating infographics.

Tools to use

Venngage: Venngage is a fantastic free infographic creation tool. This tool offers a great web-hosted resource to assist you in creating visually appealing infographics. Venngage also has a great community-based blog that has tips and tricks to help you create and share infographics.

Buzzsumo: Buzzsumo is a content creator’s best friend. This tool will allow you to search keywords throughout the Web. It show you content that “did well” within those keywords parameters. This will ultimately show you what types of content work in you industry or if there is a need for content within your industry.

The point here is that it is important to be creative when creating content to help spread your personal brand in a community. Research meaningful topics; express this information by creating content with your community’s interest in mind.

Overall, when it comes time to create a personal brand for yourself, there are lots of tactics you can use to succeed in running a successful personal branding campaign. Thankfully, there is a nearly endless supply of tools and techniques to help you accomplish this goal. Thank you for reading and please don’t hesitate to leave a reply with any suggestions you have on the topic!

Taylor Tomita is a marketer in Boise, Idaho. Follow him on Twitter at @trvshlvrd_RR. Taylor wrote this article exclusively for
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Do your Twitter followers matter to your brand? Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:01:55 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Hard at work

Think about the kind of Twitter users you follow back

Post by Tristan Anwyn

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

When you were at school, there was a good chance that if you got caught hanging with the troublemakers, you were considered guilty by association.

Nowadays, the company you keep online can affect your brand’s reputation for good or ill. Just ask Republican politician Newt Gingrich, who ran into a mini-scandal during his 2012 presidential campaign when it came to light that 92% of his Twitter followers were fake accounts.

So how does the company you keep affect your brand?

Guilt by association

When you follow an account, visitors to your Twitter profile can see that you’ve followed it and make assumptions about your brand based on whom you follow and interact with

If your brand is built on being family friendly, would you endorse an adult film company in your advertising?

It sounds preposterous when it’s put like that. But, in fact, that’s what you’re doing every time you add an account to your followers: endorsing it. When you follow an account, visitors to your Twitter profile can see that you’ve followed it, and make assumptions about your brand based on whom you choose to follow and interact with.

Building a good Twitter following is undoubtedly important, but indiscriminately following accounts isn’t the way to go. Following accounts that don’t offer good value in line with your own company message can damage your reputation.

Before you add an account, ask yourself if you want to send the message that you like that account and are happy for your brand to be associated with it.

Consider your reputation

What happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter. Google can index your tweets, meaning that what happens on Twitter is out there on the Internet for your customers to find for years to come. No, Google doesn’t index who you follow, but it will index not only your own tweets, but your @replies to other accounts, and their replies to you.

In essence, this means that if you tweet @ your favorite beer company that you can’t wait to ditch the office and get the party started, Internet users can see that and draw their own conclusions. What can seem like a light-hearted comment or a personal tweet that isn’t related to your official capacity has an uncanny way of coming back to haunt you.

Be careful who you follow on Twitter – and be mindful of the conversations you engage in, too.

More isn’t more

You likely wouldn’t want people knowing that you follow this guy.

When it comes to Twitter followers, too many companies take the attitude of “more must be better.” It’s easy to assume that following lots of accounts will make your brand look popular and active. However, if your follower list is mostly inactive or irrelevant accounts, your brand will seem unfocused and your Twitter will look random and unkempt.

Some people take the search for quantity to extremes by buying Twitter followers. These followers are often fake accounts, which can damage your reputation in more ways than one. Savvy internet users can use online tools to flag up fake follower counts, which as Newt Gingrich found out can make you look like a phony who is trying to buy popularity.

There’s more to it than that, though: Buying Twitter accounts can damage your reputation by damaging your followers. Fake accounts can contain malware. This means that your legitimate followers may find themselves on the receiving end of spam, or even become victims of hacking or phishing scams. Being associated with those kinds of accounts can do untold damage to your reputation.

Slow and steady is the route to brand success with social media

Building a good Twitter account can be a vital part of your brand’s online marketing presence, but stay aware that what you say and who you say it to can have a far-reaching impact on your reputation. It’s far better for your business in the long term if you build your Twitter reputation slowly, using real conversations with real people, maintaining a Twitter image that is honest, professional and authentic.

Whether your business offers advertising and marketing services, a wireless credit card machine to enhance sales with customers, or any other number of products and/or services, don’t underestimate the power of Twitter.

With that in mind, what steps are you taking to build a Twitter reputation that will boost your brand’s image?

Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as health, content marketing and SEO.
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Free ebook: 58 annoying communications that must end Tue, 21 Jan 2014 08:50:36 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 58 Annoying Communications That Must End

New communication annoyances that are now part of our lives thanks to social media

Target audience: PR professionals, marketers, content creators, communicators.

58 Annoying Communications That Must EndDavid SparkEvery year I write a post on my blog Spark Minute listing my least favorite communication annoyances. Amazingly, year after year, these articles have consistently been among my most successful articles.

Given their popularity, I decided to take this year’s list of annoyances, and the past three years of annoyances and compile them into an ebook of 58 annoyances you can download for free. Just register below to get your free copy (PDF, Apple iBook, and Kindle versions available).

For this post on, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from writing these articles, and how people have responded to them.

What I’ve learned from four years of being opinionated

Contrary opinions invite debate: If you want lots of comments on your blog, express an opinion contrary to the common belief. For example, I argue that wishing ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook is extraordinarily lazy since that’s all people do. They just type “Happy Birthday,” and nothing else. This controversial opinion has invited a lot of “I agree with a lot of what you have to say, but …” responses.

People love to have their annoyance validated: If you’ve been irritated by something, chances are you’re not alone. The mere act of publishing that annoyance allows you to find others who have experienced the same. They acknowledge it through their comments and sharing on social networks.

Annoying communications just don’t go away: One can’t just write about the irritating ways we communicate with each other and will them to go away. It just doesn’t happen unless you have complete control over the communications, such as Facebook did and the phenomenon of “Like”-gating. In my four years of complaining, it’s the only annoying communication that has truly disappeared. “Like”-gating is the process of putting up a roadblock to a Facebook page’s content that forces the user to “Like” the page if you want to see the page’s content. It’s an “effective” yet brand-damaging social media capturing technique. Luckily, “Like”-gating no longer exists, but there are other brand damaging social media capturing techniques that still exist. In the case of “Like”-gating, a single company, Facebook, was able to end the communication annoyance with a simple change in programming.

Except for “Like”-gating, all other annoyances have stuck around. My complaining may be entertaining, just not influential.

Comments offer fodder for future posts: My lists are far from exhaustive. That’s why I invite others to add their own annoyances. I will often mine comments from previous posts to write my posts for the following year. It’s important to look for those comments everywhere. Many won’t actually be in the comments of the post. In fact, for this year’s article, the overwhelming majority of them were on Facebook (450+ “Likes” on Facebook). Unfortunately, many of those comments were in threads I couldn’t see.

People like to publicly confess: It is inevitable that many of my readers will be guilty of many of these annoyances. Writing something like this can be dangerous as it might actually insult my readers. If it’s something I find annoying yet my reader does on a daily basis, I could get a “how dare he” and “I’m never reading his blog again” response. Surprisingly, the complete opposite happens. People are amused by the list and instead confess that they’re guilty of a few of the items. Some will say they won’t change, but others admit they’ll try harder not to do those things anymore.

Let me know: Am I full of it? Off base? Or do some of these habits annoy the heck out of you too?

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Review of ‘Dot Complicated’: A guidepost for our social era Mon, 04 Nov 2013 12:38:05 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Randi-Zuckerberg
Randi Zuckerberg at her book release party in San Francisco on Thursday night.

Randi Zuckerberg’s new book offers wise advice on how to balance our personal & professional lives online

Target audience: Small and mid-size businesses, entrepreneurs, marketing professionals, social media managers, college students, job seekers, Facebook users and anyone navigating the social media landscape.

JD LasicaCool your online jets, kids. You too, mom and pop. Step away from the habit of 24/7 smartphone gratification. Friend only real friends. Treat others with respect. And don’t try to carve out an Internet persona different from your real-world self.

Those are a few of the common-sense prescriptions Randi Zuckerberg offers for the legions of always-on overindulgers bingeing on a social media sugar high in her new book Dot Complicated (249 pages, HarperCollins), coming out tomorrow.


Randi Z., Facebook’s former marketing chief, is profoundly bright, affable, empathetic and sweet in real life (IRL, as the kids say), and those qualities abound in her book. She also has an accompanying children’s book, “Dot,” and for the big kids there’s a cool DotComplicated website.

One part behind-the-scenes look at Facebook’s early years and one part survival guide for our connected lives, “Dot Complicated” rolls along sprightly with stories and anecdotes right from the opening scene, where Randi, a gifted storyteller, recounts the frenetic behind-the-scenes activities in preparation for President Obama’s live-streamed Facebook town hall in 2011.

Randi, the former Facebook marketing chief who now heads up Zuckerberg Media, keeps it down to earth throughout. She breaks our journey into roadside stopovers on identity, modern friendships, romance, family, career, community and where all of this is heading. (By the way, news flash: life-casting your first date? never a good idea.) In other words, it’s about how to navigate our tech-infused modern life in all its online and offline messiness.

Authentic identity means merging our online & offline selves

The heart of the author’s message centers on the theme of online identity. “In a world of authentic online identity, there is increasingly little difference between our real and our online selves,” she writes. “The two cannot be thought of separately.”

Randi has taken her share of criticism for this notion of authentic identity, but I think most of the criticism is misplaced. Facebook’s positive effect on online community today can hardly be overstated. Before Facebook, those of us who routinely revealed our real names and identities in our online forays were a distinct minority. Facebook’s lasting legacy, I think, will be the gift of authentication to the Internet — the simple idea of, Hey bucko, stand behind your words by telling us who you are.

Today, thousands of companies use Facebook’s authentication feature to put a real name to the person who just registered on your site.

The author urges companies to become social businesses by empowering employees to be good ambassadors for their firms. A 21st century company should welcome a multiplicity of voices and points of view within the workplace rather than insist on a single bland institutional identity. She also points out the rich skills that a new generation of employees is bringing to the office, particularly the social media-savvy staffer who becomes “a kind of PR representative for his or her firm.”

But “Dot Complicated” is geared less to the business community than to young professionals, parents and especially women who look to Randi as a digital role model.

Some wise counsel to new & longtime parents

Kids need love, not search-engine optimization

The book is studded with little jewels and discoveries. It’s been years since I ran the show at BabyCenter, but I had no idea about this new wrinkle that new parents face:

“It’s perfectly normal these days to hear expectant parents say things like ‘I wanted to name my chld XYZ, but the domain wasn’t available, so we chose a different name,'” she relates. Who knew that baby naming had turned into a cutthroat land grab?

Her advice: “Make sure you proactively secure your child’s digital identity as early as possible. Register e-mail addresses and a .com domain for your kid, and at least Google your baby’s name once before choosing it. … But don’t get carried away by this process. Kids need love, not search-engine optimization.”

She wisely counsels parents of teenagers to buck up — to be attentive and knowledgeable but not fearful of the Internet, which underlies much of our future, after all. “Let’s remember to stay focused on the light,” she writes.

How to balance the personal & professional online?

“In the era of smartphones, social media, and authentic identity online, it’s no longer possible to separate your personal and professional identities”
— Randi Zuckerberg

In webinars I’ve done in recent years, a question that frequently comes up is: How much of myself should I put out there in social media? What’s the dividing line between my personal life and professional life online?

The author makes a case for the proposition that there should be no dividing line. (It’s the same argument Mark Zuckerberg has articulated over the years.) She writes: “I am now convinced that the people who think we need to create a purely professional, one-dimensional brand online have got it totally wrong. … In the era of smartphones, social media, and authentic identity online, it’s no longer possible to separate your personal and professional identities.”

She calls this “360-degree identity,” where the personal and the professional blend seamlessly. Randi’s peers — at 31, she straddles the Gen X and millennial generations — grew up with social and know it’s no longer possible to compartmentalize our lives into neat drawers. And it does sound old school to think your professional life should reside on LinkedIn, your social life on Facebook and your mommy self on BabyCenter or CafeMom.

So you won’t get an argument from me there. Authentic identity is a compelling idea as a weapon against cyber-bullying, in bringing signal out of noise and in connecting our online and offline lives. Yes, there’s a place for anonymity when needed, for patients, crime victims, the marginalized, dissidents in repressive regimes and other examples — but these are the exceptions to the rule.

‘Always put yourself in other people’s shoes’

Randi also has some advice for journalists: “In a world where people can finally yell back at the television and be heard, those on the screen better be prepared to listen. … The media correspondent of the future will need to have a new kind of skill set: the ability to be a correspondent, a community manager, a curator, and a member of the audience, all at the same time.”

The workplace is still roiling with the unsettled question of how far corporate HR managers should go in evaluating a job candidate’s life stream. Should job seekers ditch the college party photos and sanitize their online accounts to make a better impression? The underlying premise of “Dot Complicated” is that, once millennials take the reins at these companies, those wild frat/sorority party photos will no longer be an issue. I hope she’s right.

We’ve read dozens of stories of employees being fired or job candidates not being hired because of social media indiscretions. “Dot Complicated” could have probed some of these issues in more depth. We get the example of the corporate CFO with a personal blog and Twitter account who overshared a bit too much about company activities and was a bit too flippant in his tweets. He was fired. But the author misfires here: “The answer to this, as I’ve discussed throughout this book, is all about being true to who we really are, both online and off.” Really? Seems like he was all too true to himself.

But this is a small quibble. “Dot Complicated” brims with great stories and wise counsel about sharing, social conduct and online etiquette.

Perhaps the wisest advice comes early in the book: “In the end, the new rules of the digital world are like the old rules: they center on empathy, understanding, and common sense. Always put yourself in other people’s shoes, care about the real people on the other side of the screen, and most important, always make the effort to invest time and attention in the people you care about.”

Thank you, Randi Zuckerberg, for reminding us of this simple truth.

J.D. Lasica was, among many other things, book editor at the Sacramento Bee.


Review of ‘Your Network Is Your Net Worth’ (

• Reviews of ‘Brand Advocates,’ ‘Attack of the Customers’ and ‘What’s the Future of Business?’ (

Photos of Mark Zuckerberg by JD Lasica (Flickr)

• Are you using social media to serve your needs? (

Buttress your brand with content creation & community Mon, 14 Oct 2013 12:01:28 +0000 Continue reading ]]> community

To get discovered in search, be true to yourself, not to SEO tricks

Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR professionals, businesses, brand strategists, educators, journalists, general public.

Chris AbrahamYou can’t control your brand perception. You can’t force your will or your perception of yourself onto Google no matter how big your advertising budget — sorry. And, now, you can’t do it through writing big checks to black hat link farms, either.

So, if you want to make sure you can shape perception of your business in search as much as possible, you’ll need to write about yourself and your company as thoroughly as humanly possible — and, part of that is doing the equivalent of a 360-degree feedback of your own brand, your own corporation. For those of you who don’t know, a 360 review represents feedback that comes from members of an employee’s immediate work circle. And, like the 360, you should ask people outside of just yourself and your board how they perceive you.

Look at competitors and companies in your space, explore their Web page source code and steal their keywords

When they think about you, what do your customers, your competitors, your clients, and your employees think? What descriptors, what keywords, what phrases? Look online at people in your space — your competitors as well as who you’d like to become — and shamelessly explore their HTML source code and steal their meta keywords and the language they use.

I am not saying that you’re not creative or are completely derivative or anything else, but you’ve been in your space for a long time and you’re probably still using all the same language that you’ve used for years and years. I know that was my problem. I started my company back in 2006 and then never evolved with the market. I kept on calling what I did “new media” and never kept current as it became “social media marketing” and then became “digital PR” (and who knows what it is right now … has it become “content marketing”? Really?).

Plus, every brain listens, learns, and creates differently. So, the more you dig around to see how other people — both within and outside your organization — describe you, your company, products, and services, the better. Then steal it and use it. Some hints: how do your employees describe your company and their job on their LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook profile? How do they describe what they and you do in their official CV, resume, and bio? Use it all, build it all in there.

If a potential client needed your help, how would they find you?

Yes, there’s some work involved. And you need to do it without judgment — especially when the sort of keywords that people in your 360 don’t remotely get you. Does your mom really get what you do? Most of your clients won’t — they’ll just know they need something to do with reputation, with social media, with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or blogs. What kind of silly things do all the people in your daily life well outside of your professional bubble, your echosphere, think you do?

If they needed your help, how would they find you? Would they look you up by name? Would they think you are an IT guy? A computer guy? (I’ve heard it all, I have been called a programmer, an IT guys, a computer guy, a technologist, and any number of things).

Don’t fight it. It’s actually most excellent intelligence. The best. You can use this — and it can help you make your way back to the top of Google organic search if you play your cards right.

And here’s the secret: Cover all your bases. Write lots of copy with all variations of all interpretations of all the keywords your 360 interviews have provided you with, and then do it again and again and again and again. And keep on writing and keep on producing and keep on writing this content onto your site and over your properties as often as possible and for as long as you possibly can. And, please don’t forget: While you may have taken an accurate snapshot of the comprehensive array of keywords as they exist the day you captured them, you must periodically and persistently commit to updating your talking points, your keywords, and your conversation to reflect the mirror that is your time, your place, and the market perception of who you are and what you do.

Google’s new Keyword Planner won’t help you much

It’s not easy, either. it’ll take some work to get the reflection right. To make the mirror clear. You surely need to ask for help. While Google killed their Google Adwords Keyword Tool in favor of their lame Keyword Planner, dorking around with keyword tools still doesn’t allow you to get a real feel for what other people say and think about you, really. You need to do your own market research, your own polling. Not even Bing Keyword Research will allow you to get outside yourself.

I have been listening to Reinventing You by Dorie Clark on Her book is all about packaging and repackaging yourself in order to either sell yourself into a different market or to reboot yourself to take it to the next level in the market to which you’re committed after you’ve stalled or plateaued.

Reinventing yourself and your brand demands that you stop doing the same thing over and over again expecting the same outcome (Albert Einstein). Get past that and move forward and try something new. Hire some content people, come community managers, and spend some serious time participating instead in singing yourself out to the world.

The new Google may well have cut off all of your SEO shortcuts (just run your credit card and you’ll be on the top of Google search, pay here) but there are now many most excellent opportunities for all of you who have more talent than treasure, more time than money; and, if you only have treasure, it’s the perfect opportunity to spend your money on some serious talent — and I don’t mean more SEO consultants, either.

Google keeps changing, but that doesn’t meet you should stand still

There are quite a few ecommerce sites that may close because these Google’s changes have collapsed the (dodgy) house of cards that (dodgy) SEO consultants built in the form of buying and selling text links

People are paralyzed in the wake of Google’s aggressive changes to its search engine algorithm. While the panic and pandemonium seems to be contained outside of the public eye, there are quite a few ecommerce sites that are on the verge of shuttering because these changes have collapsed the (dodgy) house of cards that (dodgy) SEO consultants built in the form of buying and selling text links, ordering high-page-rank links out of a catalog, making partnering agreements with text link buyers and sellers, and any number of other (dodgy) link strategies. No judgement here, actually, because until last year, most of those house-of-cards were super-saturated with the SEO equivalent of Royal Flushes, Four of a Kinds, and Full Houses.

Well, the sky really started falling in earnest last year; and, to many who relied solely on SEO hacks, tricks, and black hat techniques, the sky has fallen.

Like I said, all of these techniques did work. But they don’t work very well any more and it’s getting worse. Google keeps on loosening the noose a little every couple months in response to very powerful, influential, and wealthy web patrons, but this reprieve isn’t going to last much longer.

It’s time to shift your budget, it’s time to move past running big PayPal and credit card payments into the big gray- and black-hat black box and start spending your time, talent, and treasure on content-creators, community managers, social media managers, and a board of directors for search and social media. You won’t regret it. However, you also won’t even begin to see a return on investment for at least six months (sorry). So hang in there.

Good luck, foot soldier!

Image at top by communitylandscotland (CC BY)

Why you must armor your online reputation Thu, 05 Sep 2013 12:01:53 +0000 Continue reading ]]> armadillo
Image by Mark Dumont on Flickr (CC BY)

Before a crisis hits, get ahead of the problem by steeling your defenses

Target audience: Online reputation management experts, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, businesses, Web publishers.

Chris AbrahamWhen high-end online reputation management experts like me get together and kibitz about prospecting new business, we always talk about how much all our clients would have benefited from taking our calls well before their sundry crises struck.

Long story short: hire me or someone like me if you don’t have a big pile of time but do have a small pile of money. Otherwise, spend some of your own time, talent and treasure doing a serious domain name buy, setting up a comprehensive array of sites, blogs, and social media profiles, and keeping them fresh through updates and thoughtful maintenance.

Yes, this could well be a pretty big project that will probably require special budgeting, a little hiring, some additional managing, or some personal time-management for the additional items on your own plate, for sure.

However, spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours now will help inoculate you against the inevitable aggressive online reputation attack that may well come at some point in the future, be it from something really stupid, evil, or illegal that you and your company has done or for no good reason other than your competitor wants to claim all your clients or because a simple personal break-up, perceived slight, psychotic former employee, permanently displeased former client, or inconsolable patient has made you into his or her own personal cause or jihad.

Something will eventually give you a black eye online

Aside from being perfect, noble, generous, and awesome all the time while making sure that all of your employees, past and present, and all your products and service are above reproach, something’s going to eventually try to give you a black eye online. The question is, how prepared are you and how armored are you in the search results so that when someone does a cursory search for your name, your company, or your staff, the only thing that comes up on Google are positive results?

Google’s not about judging the validity or gentility of the content returned but it is about delivery the hottest, freshest, most delicious donuts possible

The only two other options besides search engine hegemony are 1) nothing at all or 2) stuff about you by others. Either way, reputation abhors a vacuum. The reason there’s stuff up there about you now even though all you have up online at the moment is a brochure website and a LinkedIn page is because Google is the most co-dependent, people-pleasing piece of software on the planet. I believe it feels pain if it cannot give its visitors lots and lots of compelling and delicious content that is at the very least germane to the search and, at best, a sensational laugh-riot of gossip, intrigue, speculation, and embarrassment.

Google’s not about judging the validity or gentility of the content returned but it is about delivery the hottest, freshest, most delicious donuts possible, and if you’re a sleepy little brand, there’s nothing that can jack your traffic and drive attention than a hoary case of crisis.

And, once the cycle begins, it’s virtually impossible to stop its acceleration — the more people who click through to defaming content, especially through Google properties, the more prevalent on Google the content will become and the more people will click through, thus starting a feedback loop that will quickly color and influence universal brand perception of your brand.

Sometimes it’s temporary and sort of like just weathering a storm. Other times, however, after the storm is past, there’s a lot of destruction left in the storm’s wake and you’ll need to mortgage that house, sell that plane, and contact someone like me who can start your online reputation rebuilding process.

Repairing negative search results will only become costlier over time

High-end, high-profile online reputation management campaigns often cost well north of half a million dollars a year, not including traditional crisis communications, and take upward of half a year of constant work, savvy upkeep, support, and engagement before the tides change and we’re able to take back all, most, or some of the hills ceded to the crisis, depending. (Yes, yes, I know, not every business can afford the full works.)

There have been times I have told prospects, incredulous as to how much fixing their search results would cost, that they should probably consider selling a house, a yacht, or getting a second mortgage on their house if they’re really serious about repairing the gaping hole that bad first page search results put into their business revenue and potential for still existing in one calendar year.

Even if you’re just a regular schmo with an angry ex, the repair bill will be proportionally equally steep for you.

Attacking you, your business, your profession, and even your partners and family is free. There’s no barrier to entry — all it takes is some time. It doesn’t even take any skill as single-minded obsession with destructive intent tends to be pretty resourceful. The thing about single-minded hateful obsessions — they tend to be irrational, fearless, and willing to not only endure lawyering but willing to trash the attacker’s own personal reputation in order to destroy yours.

And it gets worse: Do you own your own domain names? Yes, all your domains? And the domains of your colleagues, board of directors, executives, family members, products, services, intellectual properties, as well as all the top-level variants: .com, .net, .org, .us, .co, etc. As well as all the above separated by hyphens as well. Yes, this will cost you hundreds of dollars a year. However, this is 1/1000th of the investment you’ll need to make if your domains are scooped up, instead, by your competitors, your exes, or even less-honorable SEO and online reputation management (ORM) shops.

“But hey!” you say, “it’s illegal for people to misrepresent themselves as me, my brand, my company, my family, or to squat on any of my domains! I have trademarks and patents and global ownership. They’ll fail as I will legally defend my brand and myself and use every anti-squat law and return all of these properties back to my fold.”

Well, that’s fine and well within your right in theory. However, how much will this cost you in both time and lawyering? Additionally, siccing a lawyer on an online reputation assassin can have powerful blowback with devastating results. The wasp bites resulting from an unmolested hive are bad enough but you haven’t seen anything until you start poking and prodding an active wasp nest.

Being proactive can pay dividends over the long run

When I am engaged to repair an online reputation, the first thing I ask is whether the reputation assault is over. Am I doing the equivalent of putting on my Hazmat suit, donning my yellow gloves, cracking open a big jug of Clorox, and cleaning up an abandoned crime scene? Or am I strolling into an active online reputation rocket attack?

When all’s quiet on the Western front, sending out your attach lawyers will almost immediately result in a rekindled reputation rocket attack, including recording and transcriptions of lawyer phone calls and voice mails, scans and transcriptions of cease and desist letters, and other completely irrational but amazingly effective techniques that can, at time, feel like online reputation terrorism by online reputation suicide bombers.

Even so, I know for a fact that you still won’t do anything. Like I said at the beginning of this piece, very few brands, companies, and executives ever get ahead of the problem, building the same sort of crisis prep and response plan as well as the kind of reputation armoring and defending that can act as a bulwark against all of the casual attacks, most of the medium attacks, and will act as temporary sandbags and first- and second-hit armor to even against the most serious attacks, at least to slow down the assault until you can activate your crisis response plan and engage in an active defense and even a counter-attack.

If you would like to get onto a call to speak more about online reputation management — be it in preparation for the inevitable attack, be it in response to an ongoing active online attack of your reputation, or to get advice on cleaning up one or more negative results on Google, Bing, or Yahoo! — please send me an email or give me a call. I would be happy to point you in the right direction.

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5 tips for repairing your damaged online reputation Tue, 18 Jun 2013 10:01:54 +0000 Continue reading ]]> repair
Photo courtesy of robert_a_dickinson (Creative Commons)

Monitor and make strides to develop the reputation you want

Guest post by Debbie Allen

DebbieAllenThrough my own experience as an online marketer, content writer and blogger, I know that online reputations are very important. I also know that just a few years ago there was a very popular saying that was used by some of the so-called online gurus, and that was to “fake it until you make it.”

Unfortunately, faking it may have ruined many people long before they had any chance of making it. You can’t hide from a bad reputation.

The truth is the public is not stupid. They can see through the nonsense that some marketers put out there. People appreciate being treated with respect and dignity.

Practicing online reputation management

What can damage your reputation? Taking shortcuts, compromising your brand, Losing sight of your audience and their needs. Customers have to take top priority.

Every business has an online reputation. And the reality is that every business should practice regular online reputation management. One person’s reputation is another person’s online gossip. But the bottom line is that businesses need to deal with content about their brand regardless of the report’s veracity or legitimacy. Ignore just a few complaints and it can result in long-term problems for your business.

Here, then, are five tips on how to help repair your business’s damaged reputation:

Routine monitoring

1Routinely do searches for your name, business name, product names and related terms. Visit the pages to follow up with any reviews or comments. Remember to be professional and to present the business as caring and respectful.

Business blog

schwab blog

2Develop a business blog. This is an ideal place to add positive information about your business. You can update content often, which means it will help bury negative content more quickly from Google’s search engine results. Don’t leave it to just traditional media and outside bloggers to tell the story of your business.

Social media sites


3Set up profiles at social networking sites and create updates on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. Social networking offers great opportunities engage with your target audience and build up a community of goodwill. This is the ideal place to address any questions or concerns about your services or products.

Add more content

4Add more positive content about your business. Online reputation management is all about trying to manage how others perceive your business. One of the best ways to do that is to add more and more positive content about your business through a variety of channels. This can be in the form of press releases, new content at your website or other online content. One word of caution: Make sure the information is true.

Get more reviews

Yelp REviews

5Encourage customer reviews. If you provide great products and services – and I’m sure you do – then why not encourage customer reviews? Most of them are sure to be positive and you can address those that are not. Depending on your business sector, make sure you have an accurate listing on Yelp, Foursquare, Zagat and newer services like Raved.

Create a business you are proud of and a glowing reputation will develop – but you will have to nurture it.

Develop the reputation you want

It can take years to develop the online reputation you want, but without proper care it can come crashing down quickly. If your reputation is damaged and you feel the situation is hopeless, don’t give up, contact a company like Even in the worst case scenarios, they can help.

If your reputation is untarnished, work to keep it that way. Develop the habit of monitoring what is being said about you and your business online. That gives you the opportunity to take action in some way. I believe that if you make customer care a priority, most other things will fall into place.

What do you think, and how do you address reputation issues?

Debbie Allen is an online marketer, blogger and freelance writer with a background in organizational development who writes about topics of interest to small businesses, including online reputation management, SEO and other marketing strategies. She can be contacted via Twitter or email.


• Using social media to enhance your brand’s reputation (

• Win the online reputation land war (

• Own your online reputation with help from your friends (

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When a crisis hits, how graceful is your response? Wed, 20 Mar 2013 12:11:37 +0000 Continue reading ]]> crisis management
Photo courtesy of Kid Gibson (Creative Commons)

After things go wrong, authenticity can set it right

Chris AbrahamSomething’s always going to go wrong. Murphy’s law demands it. It is your mandatory tithe to the universe. This is true about everything.

Perhaps character is what shows when things go wrong, and it’s what you do when things don’t go right that defines you. It’s never the end of the world. In fact, sometimes really messing up can initiate a valuable interaction that wouldn’t have ever happened were the mistake avoided. You’ll always be remembered more for how you handle something than for what you did in the first place. 

This is what I call “mea culpa marketing” — how to handle something that’s gone terribly wrong with as much honestly, aplomb, and grace as you can muster while you’re petty convinced that the end is nigh. And when things go even worse than that, I call it “mea maxima culpa marketing.”

The truth about mea culpa marketing is that you can’t — or shouldn’t — do it intentionally, though by the end of this blog post you may want to give it a go, just as a test. Don’t. It’s way too high-risk. However, always be prepared to turn lemons into lemonade when they do go south.

When things go sideways, make the most of it. When you’re thrown to the wolves, tarred and feathered or put in stocks or publicly mocked, your next steps, words, responses, reactions, and behavior is what will define you.

A personal gaffe tells the story

Here’s a recent example I’d like to share with you. Recently I sent out an announcement email to thousands of my tightest friends as well as thousands more to very weak connections who are, at best, acquaintances. I move around a lot so the role of the email was to let everyone know that I was starting with my new agency, Unison, and that I would surely love to chat about it. (I’m also continuing as a partner here at Here’s the email in full:

Subject: Following up on my previous email

Hi {first name}

I just wanted to let you know that I accepted a position with Unison as the director of social media. It’s right up my alley because they work with brand communication, creative and tech marketing PR/advertising; creative direction and design; and even app dev for web/mobile. There’s plenty room for collaboration.

I’d love to catch up with you. How are you doing anyway?



I don’t mean to be glib with this post. If you ask anyone, I was beside myself when I saw that my email merge not only didn’t work but went out to people whose opinions I care about with the {first name} variable embedded in there. You can ask my email guy: I was a mess. But I have experience and these things do happen. No matter how quickly you want to grab your tanto and end it all like your samurai bushido honor code dictates, don’t do it. Embrace it. It really is OK and I, too, have survived shame and public floggings. You just need to take your impulse and the experience and turn it into something much more positive.

In many cases, the sort of tarring and feathering response you receive in reaction to something gone wrong is a better and more complete engagement than when things go flawlessly right.

Here’s my story. I had sent an email to the same list of strong friends and weak connections a couple months ago so this email acted as an update and a follow-up. It had gone off without a hitch as I was assured by my mail guy that the above email, above all he had ever sent, had easily made it into every single email Inbox that we sent it to.

Unfortunately, I quickly realized that a bunch of first responders were ribbing me because they received their email not with “Hi James” or “Hi Mark” but with “Hi {first name}.” I reached out to my email guy and he told me that there were only 30 in this boat — but it surely felt like a hell of a lot more. In fact, it felt to me like the most prized and important of all of my industry contacts received these.

Authenticity is key with mea maxima culpa marketing

Photo courtesy of VCI Solutions via Creative Commons

How did I behave? Contrite as hell! I happily threw myself on my sword and begged forgiveness — and not in a way that diminished the import of the error. To me, it is always serious. It is only the recipient who is allowed to play, to mock, to judge, or to forgive. It is my job to only be grateful, ashamed, and passionately beet-faced and full of regret.

That is why one cannot — and should not — build mea maxima culpa marketing into their social media marketing plan: if it isn’t authentic, you’ll probably just make it worse.

Heaven forbid if you’re brazen or defensive or if you fight back! If you struggle, fight, or allow your ego to not handle the embarrassment, you will not only not be forgiven or laughed off as a glitch or the price of doing business, you’ll probably rather end up on The Bad Pitch Blog or the subject of a case study of what not to do in communications or with email.

If you’re able to accept responsibility, show contrition, appropriate seriousness and have enough humor and grace to be joshed with, you might actually grow in esteem

No matter what, you’ve done something inexcusable, and it’s only by the grace of the recipient do you live to see another day. However, if you’re able to fully accept responsibility, show honest contrition, appropriate seriousness, and then have enough humor and grace to be joshed with, you might actually grow in the esteem of those people around you.

In a world where everyone wears such shiny, shiny public armor, it’s always hard to get a read on someone’s character; this is especially so in a virtual world where many of us never meet in person. We don’t get the kind of experiences that really allow you to know each other well past the well-quaffed public mask, cultivated and intentional. Just like the New Yorker said years ago: “On the Internet, nobody knows you ’re a dog.”

Unfortunately, online, there are very few tried-and-true ways of stress-testing who you are and what you’re about.

When things hit the fan, people are very curious to see what happens next. Scandal and sensationalism are what people are drawn to and the way you handle any particular situation is how you’ll be remembered rather than the situation you got into in the first place.

Dealing well, publicly, with adversity is what separates a seasoned communications professional from a neophyte.

Crisis management

As I am sure you’ll expect, quite few of the folks who received the {first name} emails were concerned for me and quickly let me know. Another bunch gave me zingers and goosed me by responding with:

Dear Chris,

Please remove me from your list. Congrats on the new position. I wish you well.


{first name}

Some of them responded with pity, others said to me “it happens” or “happens to the best of us.” And it’s just fine and dandy that they say it, but contrition — a full mea maxima — does not allow that you ever agree with them. No! At most I will ever say, “thank you, that’s very generous of you to say.” And I mean it, too.

If you’re shameless and fearless, get someone else to be your crisis-response, mea maxima culpa marketing professional.

A few of those folks who responded to my email tweeted their glee and indignation that I would send such an email in bulk and that I was trying to fool them into believing it was in earnest and only to them, a fair statement and I was terribly sorry about that — for real.

I deserved it. What I did was patently inexcusable.

At the end of the day, I was able to use humor, contrition, a thick skin, my ability and willingness to be sorry and appalled, and the fact that I responded quickly and personally to every single response into well over a thousand personal email replies, many of which were not botched, many of which I could better read as simply teasing and playful and not the end of the world once the storm lifted (these experiences are emotional; even when you’re being your best professional self, you still are allowed to have feelings).

And this big mistake might very well end up being the best thing to ever happen to this particular communication. For two reasons:

  1. Many more people responded because of my failure — and I was able to engage with all of them even if not all outcomes were positive
  2. Because I as fighting for my life over this gaffe, I spent extra time and attention and gave more of myself and didn’t just call it in, as I might have done had the email gone off flawless.

I would love to continue the conversation about this in the comments.

And to you who received an email from me and didn’t enjoy it, I want you to know that I really do feel quite badly about it. I will try harder next time. I promise.

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Build social media equity, then spend it! Mon, 03 Dec 2012 13:31:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

The best community strategy? Ask your followers for favors

Target audience: Businesses, brands, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, agencies, Web publishers, general public.

Chris AbrahamWhile I don’t believe that the richness of the online world can be reduced to a real estate analogy, that’s what I’m going with in order to explain the way humans work, especially in concert and in community.

If you only give to the people and the community around you and never ask for help or for favors, people might still like you but they’ll never feel the sort of intimacy and humanity needed to really connect with you in a profound way. Instead of just building up brand equity by being the prettiest, smartest, most athletic or most altruistic person in the room, try asking for help; for favors.

Open the window to your daily challenges and processes. Admit that you’re a company or organization that needs to make money in order to thrive. In the end, people don’t enjoy being a sheep in a flock with you as a shepherd so much as they prefer to be a member of your community. The members of a community take care of each other — and that’s not just you and your brand taking care of your community (remember, they’re not your flock), it’s also about your community sustaining you as well. Stop trying to be perfect and try being human.

Spend equity in small doses to resonate with your community

Don’t just keep on building up brand equity and good faith online ad infinitum — spend it as fast as you make it. Social media is a series of now, now, now, just like real relationships. Saving up all that equity for periodical grandiose gifts is less appealing to your (virtual online) community than is just being there. It’s sort of like being a good parent: It’s better to be home every night at 5 and home on the weekends than it is to be on the road all year or away at the office for your 18-hour-days, only to buy us a car on our birthday.

As the bread winner, you don’t need to buy our love. We’ve chosen to be here, but we can also choose to leave if we feel like were being ignored, abandoned, or taken for granted. Don’t ever ignore us just because you already believe you have our vote.

The biggest mistake I see when it comes to social media engagement is that folks tend to be afraid to spend any of the goodwill built up over time

The biggest mistake I see on a daily basis when it comes to some of the best social media engagement strategies is that folks tend to be afraid to spend any of the goodwill — the equity — that’s built up over time.

To return to the real estate theme, too many of the best social media teams and social media-engaged brands spend all of their time doing home improvement and not enough time reaping the benefits of that selfless improvement in the form of spending some of that equity.

You’re allowed to market your tenants! Don’t be afraid of your followers and friends online. They’re not only fair weather friends and they’re not just crashing there because it’s free and because you’re generous and give them free things. They’re there because they have, for some reason, imprinted on you and your brand. They’re not there because you tricked them into liking or following you, but because they arrived at your door looking for you. You were either their intended destination or you’re where they ended up for whatever reason — but here they are.

Accrued equity cannot be saved for the long term

Yes, the reason they may well be there now is because you’ve been ardently building a safe, generous, happy, fun, informational, educational, responsive, and creative space for them. Bravo. That said, you are running a business and, at the end of the day, you’re entitled to spend some or all of the equity accrued over time on converting, cross-promoting, and up-selling your fans.

You can’t save social media equity — you can only build it and spend it.

Back in my late 20s and early 30s, I used to hold my most impressive and useful acquaintances in reserve. I must have thought that connection was akin to finding a genie in a bottle. With only three wishes, I had better keep them bottled up until the time was right and I needed a get out of jail free card. But it never worked that way. My former business partner and best friend, Mark Harrison, told me something important (and I always appreciated how he would remediate for me simple truths about friendships and relationships that I hadn’t seemed to have picked up in the course of my own life-discovery):

The best way to build intimacy with a new acquaintance, or to get even closer to the friends you have, is to ask for favors; to ask for help. Being needed by someone else is part of it, of course, but the more interesting psychology of it all is that asking someone else for a favor is like a gift to the other person: It gives them the opportunity to do something for you. In our society, too few people ask each other for favors or for help and strangely, helping other people you like generally makes us happy and feel connected.

Let people see the real you

I had another quirk, too: I used to only allow other people to see me and enter my world when I was prepared and ready, with all my armor on. What I learned is that real intimacy and connection happened between people who allow their flaws to show, who have an opportunity to see behind the bravado of game day. Just hanging out and doing nothing together is probably time more valuably spent than the awkward elegance and banter around the table enjoyed at a dinner party.

What I learned over time — and have used to great effect time and time again — is that no matter how generous you are to your friends, followers, and Likers online and in real life; no matter how many of their problems you fix or good counsel you give; no matter how many favors you do for others or days you save from jumping up to help, support, or facilitate; true intimacy and connection will elude you and your brand until you start revealing the face behind the make-up.

In other words, spend your equity early and often by allowing your friends and followers to know that you need something: more business, more customers, more revenue, more donations, a more successful capital campaign. NPR and PBS have this wired for sound.

They offer their members, listeners, and fans an abundance of riches throughout the year in the form of radio and TV programing — building equity out the wazoo — but then they go nuts and spend down a lot of that goodwill and equity by doing multiple days of fundraising in the form of a pledge drive. While this does burn a lot of the accrued goodwill, it also builds intimacy as well: NPR and PBS both throw their humanity at you in segments that unmask hosts, actors, special guests, reporters, and the like. You get to see them presumably without their prompter, you get to see them outside their formal job as entertainer, reporter, analyst, and show host.

In the moments of the pledge drive, I discover how much these shows cost NPR affiliate WAMU 88.5 FM and PBS affiliate WETA in Washington, D.C. I discover how much of their money is private, public, and through member donations. I have an opportunity to listen to Diane Rehm (right)  speak to Kojo Nnamdi and Ed Walker and Rob Bamberger and Rebecca Sheir — folks who never chat and pitch together on normal days — and each one of them are holding out a cup, asking for alms, from me.

It’s human, it’s open, it’s vulnerable, it’s a little pathetic, and it makes me love them a little bit more. Commercial broadcast television does this in the form of needing to create television programing compelling enough that you’ll forgive the 10 minutes-per-half-hour of commercials that are needed to make that programming viable.

What’s more, the Internet has proved time and time again that denizens of the Internet have a strong fear of falling in love and getting hurt. We have all invested in an online community or a favorite blog or social network only to have it disappear. When someone is shopping around for a community, they’re aware that they could be hurt again. Worse, their hundreds of hours of participation could disappear in the blink of an eye.

So, when a new prospect is sniffing around your brand page or blog or Tumblr or whatever, they ask two things: WIIFM and WIIFT: what’s in it for me and what’s in it for them. If the prospect can figure out why you’re being so nice and generous but can’t sort out your monetization strategy, your sales channel, your conversion process or your fundraising plan, you might set off the “it’s too good to be true” red flag.

Build a durable, loyal community

You can build a loyal community by spending your equity on letting every member of your community know that, for realsies, you need them as much — and more — than they need you. By showing way more than telling you’ll be on your way to building a community that is loyal to you, faithful through good times and bad, and who will have your back.

The best thing about creating a community like this is that it’s durable. And a durable community is what you need for it to be persistent over time. Durability is what superficial communities of purchased followers run by community managers who fancy themselves a social media brand shepherd and their followers to be their flock.

Unless you’re able to build the trust and mutual respect, you won’t really posses anything; only a follower count, maybe, but good luck on being able to activate these followers. Your message penetration, shares, comments and tweets will never be where they could be if you really spent the time to build a family.