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Online Reputation Control - Branding, Insurance, or Blind-Luck?

Jun 7, 2008
In today's world it is far too easy to be ignorant of your online reputation. It is even easier for it to instantly vaporize and let someone tear it into a barely recognizable brand that you will fess up to being involved with. Every blog, community site, customer review, or competitor has hundreds of different options to voice viewpoints and concerns against a company. If you haven't done it already, start understanding how to use tools to monitor social media and take proactive steps to keep your business in working order.

Your second option is to ask the simple question:
Can this happen to me?

Yep it sure can.

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

Result 7 - Zillow - Google Headline "How Good are Zillow's Estimates?"

"Zillow came within 5% of the price in a third of the transactions studied by The Journal. It was more than 25% off target on 11% of them. In 34 of the 1,000 transactions, Zillow was off by more than 50%."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It doesn't make a difference of who you are (how big, or how little), this can happen to you.

It happens to Comcast and Zillow.

It also happens to the little guys.

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

If Comcast is paying only $.25 per visitor for that keyword- imagine that those 1,219,303 video views cost Comcast a minimum of $250k in lost "clicks", not counting how many customer service problems and public relations issues it causes.
About the Author
Barry Hurd is President, author, speaker, and voice of 123 Social Media - Brand Control Management. He has a history of over fifteen years working on numerous innovative efforts with online business models: past projects have included NIKE, REI, TMP Worldwide, Monster.com, Verizon Superpages, Intuit, and RIS Media.
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