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StepRep Online Reputation Management Software

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MyFrontSteps.com Releases Software

Back in August of this year, VendAsta Technologies announced a first round of funding for $3 million for MyFrontSteps.com which is slated as “a social software initiative focused on the home and home services industry.”

The goal of the initiative is to connect people across social networks so they can talk about their home, their home experiences and collectively discover and recommend local service providers for all phases of home improvement from buying to improving to selling. With this round of funding, MyFrontSteps has designed an online reputation builder and manager which will “help consumers find, select and utilize home service providers and gain insight and knowledge about them from people they know and trust.”

According to CEO Brendan King, ”there are a lot of agents, brokers, contractors, developers – you name it – that have done just fine with traditional marketing and referrals. However, in the long term the Internet will have an overwhelming impact on this very same industry. These same players will not continue to be able to effectively function going forward in the next few years without embracing Web 2.0 techniques. MyFrontSteps and StepRep will allow their customers to showcase their products and services via online social networks.”

New Spokesmonster

With $3M, they’ve created an online reputation management tool backed by this marketing campaign (seen below). What do you think?


Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Chris de Jong

    October 17, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I have nothing but love for our Saskatoon tech community. It is filled with great people, great ideas, and great companies like Vendasta.

    That being said, this video left me a tad confused. Who knows though, perhaps that is what Vendasta was intending – building buzz by quirkiness alone! 🙂

  2. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 17, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I think it’s insane – what were they thinking?

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    October 17, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Aside from trying to insult as many people as possible with the video, what exactly is the point here?

    I’m able to monitor my online reputation just fine without their help, thanks.

  4. Vera Achino

    October 17, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    As soon as I heard “inbred” and “hillfolk”, I thought there was something wrong with my hearing and had to rewind. Not funny, not cute, not quirky, not effective at all. By the way, this 100% hillbilly found it a poor attempt to engage, insulting, and quite boring.

  5. jewdy7

    October 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    hi guys. this is really really bad. really bad. nothing good about it at all so nothing salvagable. scrap scrap scrap.

  6. Gregory Ng

    October 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Ok, so i’m not in the “industry”. As an outsider I feel this is successful because everyone is rewinding and rewatching this horribly concepted video and in turn building more press for this group.

    It is another case of someone putting up a video that is a result of a brainstorming gone too far.

  7. Bill Lublin

    October 17, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Looks like they might want to rethink this – a little TOO quirky perhaps?

  8. Benn Rosales

    October 17, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    What I find interesting is no one is being specific as to why it should or shouldn’t be changed. Are we being polite, or do we just not like it because it isn’t pretty?

  9. Todd

    October 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Wow. Way to insult the user! Marketing, basic professionalism EPIC FAIL!

  10. Matt Stigliano

    October 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I’m confused. First off, what do they do? I mean I get what it is, based on Benn’s post and because the monster told me so, but…uh, I still don’t quite get it. Second, why would you use the monster/hillfolk/eskimo thing. I’m so confused that I don’t know what to even think. I went to the site, cause admittedly I’m a curious type and want to understand and know more, but of course, the site is “under construction,” so there’s no real answers there.

    Chris mentioned the possibility of building buzz with quirkiness and perhaps that’s what they’re going for, but I can’t say I quite see it…quirkiness (and any marketing hook) needs SOME substance to really draw users. Take me for instance, the “rockstar” thing might catch your attention, but if I’m a lousy agent, it doesn’t matter, I’m not going to surivive. Without substance, I will fail and so will anyone else. Now maybe they plan on some whizz-bang substance, but so far, I don’t see it, so for now, I’m not impressed.

    The thing that I feel most confused about? They say that we need to embrace Web 2.0 techniques in order to showcase our products and services. Isn’t that why we’re all here at AgentGenius? Isn’t that why we Twitter, use Facebook, read and comment on blogs, write at ActiveRain, Trulia, and others? Isn’t that what we’re all doing on our own? Maybe contractors and developers will bring with them a client base that are in search of real estate agents (and they will not be a part of our Web 2.0 world) and maybe that’s the hook for us as agents, but until I see how it all actually functions, I feel that it will be just another repository of home information.

    If StepRep is to be a source of referrals for us (via social networking) then to me it just sounds like a more real estate-centric LinkedIn, where we connect with new clients based on the fact that a former client is connected to us and had some nice things to say. (Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only place that we can get testimonials from, I just figured it was the easiest comparison in these terms.)

    As a consumer, my opinions of this kind of referral site wouldn’t be very high anyway, as I am pretty skeptical of a lot of the internet, based solely on the fact that I know you can buy your way to the top on many sites or fill out enough phony registrations to “recommend” yourself all you want. I hate to think that people go that far, but I’m a realist on these sorts of issues.

    Now of course, having said all that, I welcome Brendan King or anyone else from the company to break it down for me and explain what I might be misunderstanding, misreading, misinterpreting, or plain old missing. I don’t mean to sound so negative, but I really just feel left in the dark after watching and reading.

  11. Benn Rosales

    October 17, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    @matt One thing I can add that may help with your perspective Matt, is that this isn’t professional centric, it’s people centric, meaning anyone can do this.

    So what’s your take on the video if you’re home seller or buyer? Does this campaign explain enough?

    I mean, you did click through to learn more, did the monster do that, or was it just your need to keep up?

  12. Jane Watson

    October 17, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I think everyone needs to get a sense of humour.

  13. Jay Thompson

    October 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve met most of the guys at Vendasta, they are a bright bunch of folks. I’m not sure exactly what Step Rep will be, heck – they – may not be sure exactly.

    As for people needing a reputation management tool, I think there is a LOT of need for that. Keep in mind that if you are out there in the blogiverse, reading blogs like AG and participating in social networking you are MILES ahead of what, 90%, 95%, 98% of real estate professionals. *THEY* can use something to help them “monitor, manage and build” their social reputation. So to that end, just because the readers of AG may not need it doesn’t mean no one else does. Reputation management is **huge** and poorly understood by many.

    As for the video, I didn’t find it offensive, but then I’m basically unoffendable. An “Appalachian” I talked to yesterday didn’t find it offensive (though they didn’t find it compelling or effective either). Will someone be offended, yep. Is that good or bad? I don’t know — I can’t see where it’s ever a good idea to intentionally offend, and I don’t think that was the intent.

    Sometimes things that make me say “WTF”? are effective at getting me to go look at a web site. Obviously Step Rep is still very much in development. Will this generate “pre-release buzz”? Beats me. Maybe. It generated some buzz here.

  14. Bob

    October 17, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I hope their tech skills are better than their marketing skills.

    ”there are a lot of agents, brokers, contractors, developers – you name it – that have done just fine with traditional marketing and referrals. However, in the long term the Internet will have an overwhelming impact on this very same industry. These same players will not continue to be able to effectively function going forward in the next few years without embracing Web 2.0 techniques. MyFrontSteps and StepRep will allow their customers to showcase their products and services via online social networks.”

    If this defines his target market, then I’m not sure what good the video does. The eskimo hillfolk are probably never going to ‘stumble’ across this.

  15. Matt Stigliano

    October 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Benn – Yeah, I guess nowhere does it push agent-centric, so I guess that shouldn’t have been part of my thinking necessarily, but as with anything, I assume it would quickly be filled with agents looking to be a part of that sort of home-centric community.

    The video itself? I just have no idea what its doing. I would probably assume it was a joke of some sort as I would imagine a company would try to explain what they do a little better than this. I do admit, because I saw it here I was curious. If I saw it while browsing the web on my own? Probably would have passed it up without a second’s thought. The click definitely wasn’t about the monster, but about where it was first shown to me (AG).

    Jane – As someone who is never offended and known for being completely un-PC about things (I made a healthy living on that reputation), I know what you’re saying, but if you’re trying to sell a product or service, is this really the way you want to project? Not only were some people offended (and in my experience someone will always be offended no matter how “clean” you are), but we still aren’t really sure what they’re trying to get you interested in. I think that no matter what direction the company takes (ie, they see all this, think “ooops, we better clean this ad up” or they continue on their current path), this is what the phrase “online community” is all about. A place to exchange thoughts and ideas about a variety of topics, good or bad, and speak your mind about them. I personally am a big fan of the web’s ability to affect change, even when the change is something I may/may not agree with.

  16. Matt Stigliano

    October 17, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    *THEY* can use something to help them “monitor, manage and build” their social reputation

    Jay – Excellent point.

  17. Brendan King

    October 17, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Recent posts on the AgentGenius blog have really hurt the SpokesMonster’s feelings! StepRep is still in Alpha but we thought we would give you a peek at the SpokesMonster’s StepRep dashboard just to show how badly the negative posts have damaged his online reputation. 🙂

    You can check out an Alpha screenshot here: https://steprepblog.com/2008/10/17/spokesmonster-epic-failure/

    P.S. Benn, way to force me to give you the inside scoop on our product! 🙂

  18. Jonathan Dalton

    October 17, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Why the video ought to have been changed – it doesn’t say anything. Even when it talks about what Step Rep has to offer, there’s no substance.

  19. Marc

    October 24, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Interesting points of view here. I am impressed by the deep insights many of you have applied to this campaign and the points view offered which I find breathtaking given the low standards and often confusing ways in which some of your peers out there in real estate tend to market and message themselves.

    Is this insulting? For some, I have no doubt that poking a little fun at our Appalachian neighbors stirs unease. We, as a nation are evolving realizing that we are indeed a great melting pot of races, colors and creeds. Personally, I was less shocked by this having grown up watching shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dukes of Hazzard, which then and now, seem to pass through society without anyone raising a PC hand.

    But Jonathan asks, does this video say anything? I would respectfully suggest that it actually speaks volumes about the issues of social grace, social mismanagement and online reputation offered through a video that calls Vendasta’s own reputation into question. Granted it’s a bit subliminal but even after watching it once, it came across as delivering quite a powerful and effective message which is worthy of pointing out.

    Granted, this message may seem buried in the haze of a questionable character. But isn’t that their point as a company and the entire notion behind their soon-to-be-released, whenever that is, offering?

    For me this is what resonated in high volume. Granted it’s risky. And risque. But that is the making of a good and powerful ad. I am not advocating that offending people is a prudent means of promotion but this isn’t a random act of offensiveness. It seems quite calculated meant to illustrate what happens when you misstep online and the potential hits your reputation might encounter.

    I for one would hope that they present more ads like this and complete the story arc because like Jonathan said which I do agree with, there is no visceral substance. They need to take this campaign forward and tell the entire story.

    If not, at the very least, it did what all great ads do — got people talking.

  20. mattpeters

    November 4, 2012 at 12:22 am

    SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving your websites ranking on search engines such as, Google, Yahoo and Bing. In an overly saturated market driven by competition, you want your website to be the first one consumers see. Therefore, having your site ranked higher than your competitors’ is imperative. SEO may seem like a daunting process– something only a computer genius can do– but in fact, it’s so easy, your grandma can do it.
    I am a programmer from San Francisco and have spent my career working for top SEO/ reputation management companies. Through my experience, I have come to discover that SEO companies are unethical with how they present their services. They convince people who aren’t tech savvy that SEO is technologically advancedand should be left in the hands of an expensive professional, but that is not true. Anyone can do SEO easily.
    That is why I chose to branch out and create SearchManipulator.com, based off “do-it-yourself” SEO software. Our mission is to give you the power to manipulate search results in your favor, without having to pay the high prices asked by SEO companies. I’m not trying to make money for myself or my company, I am trying to bring honesty back into this industry. Money means nothing to me, which is why I’m giving away the software for free.AllI ask is that you make a generous donation to “The Susan G Komen for the Cure” (ww5.komen.org/Donate/Donate.html) or a similar charity in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and for my grandmother who is bravely fighting the disease.
    The free SEO software: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hkmomhohdpkpinbmkmckhkofedoohjeh. You have to download “Google Chrome” (www.google.com/chrome), which is a free web browser from Google. It’s faster and more reliable than Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla FireFox.
    The reason SEO companies use to be valuable is because they know which websites rank high, how many you should sign up for at once, how many backlinks to add and where. Nowadays everything must be done carefully or Google’s “Penguin Update” will detect the spam and punish you. This is why we have broken up the software into “sets”. You should wait at least 2 weeks in between sets. Also, it takes about 2 weeks for Google to process the websites and put them into search results, so the 2 week time allows you to let the previous set of websites settle in.
    Don’t pay for monitoring services either. Free tools already exist for you to monitor your online reputation and search results. SEO companies offer this monitoring for a steep price, but all they do is sign you up for Google Alerts, https://www.google.com/alerts.
     
    The “Set 1” creates 18 high ranking websites for you while having a backlinking algorithm to make the 18 sites SEO-powerful. On the main menu, you can add which websites you want to SEO/promote. I have seen tons of ads saying “Buy 1,000 backlinks” or whatever, but keep in mind that Google only values legit and powerful backlinks. 18 quality backlinks is much more valuable than 1,000 power-less ones. 1,000 power-less ones may even get you caught and put in the “Google penalty box” for months-years.  The backlinking algorithm that the SearchManipulator software creates also promotes it’s own websites too that it just created, so when it points a backlink towards your business site/any site you want to promote, it carries a lot more weight. For example, the software will sign you up for Twitter and VisualCV.com. The VisualCV will have a backlink to Twitter, saying something like “Click here to see Mike Smith’s Twitter”. As a result, the Twitter is validated and SEO powerful. So when a backlink from that Twitter page says “Contact my business by clicking here”, that backlink carries a lot more weight than having a backlink come from an unimportant page that Google sees as spam.
    Make sure you don’t sign up for too many websites too quickly, or Google will get mad. At max, sign up for 30 sites a month.
    Set 1 signs you up for:
    Twitter.com
    LinkedIn.com
    Formspring.com
    Wordpress.com
    Fastcompany.com
    Ecademy.com
    Ziki.com
    Flickr.com
    Viadeo.com
    Posterous.com
    CVShare.com
    Connectture.com
    Ikarma.com
    Workface.com
    Xing.com
    Scribd.com
    Tumblr.com
     
    Set 2 signs you up for:
    Listal.com
    Gather.com
    Bigsight.org
    Entrepreneur.com
    Peoplepond.com
    About.Me
    Lookup.com
    Weebly.com
    Professionalontheweb.com
    Flavors.Me
    Seesmic (this site allows you to auto-schedule Twitter or LinkedIn Updates, which Google loves to see)
     
    Set 3 signs you up for:
    Biznik.com
    bx.businessweek.com
    dooid.com
    identyme.com
    re.vu
    bizwiz.com/networking
    brazencareerist.com
    focus.com
    follr.com
     
    There’s more, but you get the idea. If you want more sites, do an internet search of the top social media sites, or you can email me at matt@searchmanipulator.com for our free list and documents. Don’t forget to donate to a good charity if you like the software!

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Social Media

*New* TikTok Insights launch: Content creators finally get audience analytics

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The popular short-form app, TikTok, finally launches the anticipated Insights feature, where content creators can view target audience data.

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Two girls filming on TikTok.

Marketers searching for the zeitgeist which means TikTok scrollers pause to watch their content and then click through to buy a product have a new tool to help make that happen.

  • TikTok Insights offers marketers bite-size bits of user demographic information that will help build content that leads to sales.
  • With TikTok Insights you can learn more about your audience’s behavior, their interests, and their general sentiment toward brands.
  • TikTok Insights is free to use. Marketers can find TikTok user demographics by using filters to determine what they’re looking for.

The demographic info can be age-focused, focused on specific types of marketing, or even as specific as holiday or event marketing.

This is a step in the direction marketers have been asking for as they create content for the TikTok platform; however, creators looking for detailed analytics like they get from meta need to wait. Insights doesn’t offer that for now.

Like TikTok says in its own analytic information,

“While analytics are helpful in understanding the performance of your videos, you don’t need to create future videos based primarily around them. It’s best to consider the bigger picture, lean lightly on analytics, and use them as a source for insight rather than strategy.”

Marketers trying to key into reaching TikTok’s billion users worldwide are left, right now, searching for the magic that leads to consumers making the jump from the platform to using their purchasing power.

For marketers that means keeping things creative and collaborative, two key factors in TikTok’s success. And that success is huge. Users spend an average of 52 minutes on the platform when they log in and a staggering 90% of users say they log on every day.

TikTok Insights will help marketers find ways to connect, but the content TikTok is looking for is authentic.

And while entrepreneurs can bid for advertising like other social media platforms, they need to remember when planning that spend, that most TikTok marketing success stories are more accidental than planned. Have fun with that knowledge. Instead of pressure to create the perfect plan, TikTok Insights allows marketers to keep it creative and to find a way to tie it into what they enjoy about the platform.

Like all other social media marketing, focus on creating content that stops the consumer from their continual scroll. Make it a challenge and keep it real.

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Social Media

Grindr got busted for selling users’ data locations to advertisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) User data has been a hot topic in the tech world. It’s often shared haphazardly or not protected, and the app Grindr, follows suit.

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Grindr on phone in man's hands

If you’re like me, you probably get spam calls a lot. Information is no longer private in this day and age; companies will buy and sell whatever information they can get their hands on for a quick buck. Which is annoying, but not necessarily outright dangerous, right?

Wrong.

Grindr has admitted to selling their user’s data, however, they are specifically selling the location of their users without regard for liability concerns. Grindr, a gay hook-up app, is an app where a marginalized community is revealing their location to find a person to connect to. Sure, Grindr claims they have been doing this less and less since 2020, but the issue still remains: they have been selling the location of people who are in a marginalized community – a community that has faced a huge amount of oppression in the past and is still facing it to this day.

Who in their right mind thought this was okay? Grindr initially did so to create “real-time ad exchanges” for their users, to find places super close to their location. Which makes sense, sort of. The root of the issue is that the LGBTQAI+ community is a community at risk. How does Grindr know if all of their users are out? Do they know exactly who they’re selling this information to? How do they know that those who bought the information are going to use it properly?

They don’t have any way of knowing this and they put all of their users at risk by selling their location data. And the data is still commercially available! Historical data could still be obtained and the information was able to be purchased in 2017. Even if somebody stopped using Grindr in, say, 2019, the fact they used Grindr is still out there. And yeah, the data that’s been released has anonymized, Grindr claims, but it’s really easy to reverse that and pin a specific person to a specific location and time.

This is such a huge violation of privacy and it puts people in real, actual danger. It would be so easy for bigots to get that information and use it for something other than ads. It would be so easy for people to out others who aren’t ready to come out. It’s ridiculous and, yeah, Grindr claims they’re doing it less, but the knowledge of what they have done is still out there. There’s still that question of “what if they do it again” and, with how the world is right now, it’s really messed up and problematic.

If somebody is attacked because of the data that Grindr sold, is Grindr complicit in that hate crime, legally or otherwise?

So, moral of the story?

Yeah, selling data can get you a quick buck, but don’t do it.

You have no idea who you’re putting at risk by selling that data and, if people find out you’ve done it, chances are your customers (and employees) will lose trust in you and could potentially leave you to find something else. Don’t risk it!

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Social Media

BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.

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social media - bereal app

BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.

According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.

It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.

As the app says when you go to its page:

Be Real.

Your Friends

for Real.

Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.

A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.

BeReal app

The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.

“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”

The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”

Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.

And fake.

Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.

For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.

None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.

We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.

BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.

It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.

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