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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

Twitter to start charging users? Here’s what you need to know

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media is trending toward the subscription based model, especially as the pandemic pushes ad revenue down. What does this mean for Twitter users?

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Twitter and other social media apps open on a phone being held in a hand. Will they go to a paid option subscription model?

In an attempt to become less dependent on advertising, Twitter Inc. announced that it will be considering developing a subscription product, as well as other paid options. Here’s the scoop:

  • The ideas for paid Twitter that are being tossed around include tipping creators, the ability to pay users you follow for exclusive content, charging for use of the TweetDeck, features like “undo send”, and profile customization options and more.
  • While Twitter has thought about moving towards paid for years, the pandemic has pushed them to do it – plus activist investors want to see accelerated growth.
  • The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from targeted ads, though Twitter’s ad market is significantly smaller than Facebook and other competitors.
  • The platform’s user base in the U.S. is its most valuable market, and that market is plateauing – essentially, Twitter can’t depend on new American users joining to make money anymore.
  • The company tried user “tips” in the past with its live video service Periscope (RIP), which has now become a popular business model for other companies – and which we will most likely see again with paid Twitter.
  • And yes, they will ALWAYS take a cut of any money being poured into the app, no matter who it’s intended for.

This announcement comes at a time where other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Clubhouse, are also moving towards paid options.

My hot take: Is it important – especially during a pandemic – to make sure that creators are receiving fair compensation for the content that we as users consume? Yes, 100%. Pay people for their work. And in the realm of social media, pictures, memes, and opinions are in fact work. Don’t get it twisted.

Does this shift also symbolize a deviation from the unpaid, egalitarian social media that we’ve all learned to use, consume, and love over the last decade? It sure does.

My irritation stems not from the fact that creators will probably see more return on their work in the future. Or on the principal of free social media for all. It stems from sheer greediness of the social media giants. Facebook, Twitter, and their counterparts are already filthy rich. Like, dumb rich. And guess what: Even though Twitter has been free so far, it’s creators and users alike that have been generating wealth for the company.

So why do they want even more now?

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TikTok enters the e-commerce space, ready to compete with Zuckerberg?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Setting up social media for e-commerce isn’t an uncommon practice, but for TikTok this means the next step competing with Facebook and Instagram.

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Couple taking video with mobile phone, prepared for e-commerce.

Adding e-commerce offerings to social media platforms isn’t anything new. However, TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, is rolling out some new e-commerce features that will place the social video app in direct competition with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Instagram.

According to a Financial Times report, TikTok’s new features will allow the platform to create and expand its e-commerce service in the U.S. The new features will allow TikTok’s popular users to monetize their content. These users will be able to promote and sell products by sharing product links in their content. In return, TikTok will profit from the sales by earning a commission.

Among the features included is “live-streamed” shopping. In this mobile phone shopping channel, users can purchase products by tapping on products during a user’s live demo. Also, TikTok plans on releasing a feature that will allow brands to display their product catalogs.

Currently, Facebook has expanded into the e-commerce space through its Facebook Marketplace. In May 2020, it launched Facebook Shops that allows businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram stories into online stores.

But, Facebook hasn’t had too much luck in keeping up with the video platform in other areas. In 2018, the social media giant launched Lasso, its short-form video app. But the company’s TikTok clone didn’t last too long. Last year, Facebook said bye-bye to Lasso and shut it down.

Instagram is trying to compete with TikTok by launching Instagram Reels. This feature allows users to share short videos just like TikTok, but the future of Reels isn’t set in stone yet. By the looks of it, videos on Reels are mainly reposts of video content posted on TikTok.

There is no word on when the features will roll out to influencers on TikTok, but according to the Financial Times report, the social media app’s new features have already been viewed by some people.

TikTok has a large audience that continues to grow. By providing monetization tools in its platform, TikTok believes its new tools will put it ahead of Facebook in the e-commerce game, and help maintain that audience.

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Social Media

Your favorite Clubhouse creators can now ask for your financial support

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Clubhouse just secured new funding – what it means for creators and users of the latest quarantine-based social media darling.

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Woman talking on Clubhouse on her iPhone with a big smile.

Clubhouse – the live-voice chat app that has been taking the quarantined world by storm – has recently announced that it has raised new funding in a Series B round, led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

The app confirms that new funding means compensation for creators; much like the influencers on TikTok and YouTube, now Clubhouse creators will be able to utilize features such as subscriptions, tipping, and ticket sales to monetize their content.

To encourage emerging Clubhouse creators and invite new voices, funding round will also support a promising “Creator Grant Program”.

On the surface, Clubhouse is undoubtedly cool. The invite-only, celebrity-filled niche chatrooms feel utopic for any opinionated individual – or anyone that just likes to listen. At its best, Clubhouse brings to mind collaborative campfire chats, heated lecture-hall debates or informative PD sessions. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m actually obsessed.

And now with its new round, the video chatroom app will not only appear cool but also act as a helpful steppingstone to popular and emerging creators alike. “Creators are the lifeblood of Clubhouse,” said Paul & Rohan, the app’s creators, “and we want to make sure that all of the amazing people who host conversations for others are getting recognized for their contributions.”

Helping creators get paid for their labor in 2021 is a cause that we should 100% get behind, especially if we’re consuming their content.

Over the next few months, Clubhouse will be prototyping their tipping, tickets and subscriptions – think a system akin to Patreon, but built directly into the app.

A feature unique to the app – tickets – will offer individuals and organizations the chance to hold formal discussions and events while charging an admission. Elite Clubhouse rooms? I wonder if I can get a Clubhouse press pass.

Additionally, Clubhouse has announced plans for Android development (the app has only been available to Apple users so far). They are also working on moderation policies after a recent controversial chat sparked uproar. To date, the app has been relying heavily on community moderation, the power of which I’ve witnessed countless times whilst in rooms.

So: Is the golden age of Clubhouse – only possible for a short period while everyone was stuck at home and before the app gained real mainstream traction – now over? Or will this new round of funding and subsequent development give the app a new beginning?

For now, I think it’s safe to say that the culture of Clubhouse will certainly be changing – what we don’t know is if the changes will make this cream-of-the-crop app even better, or if it’ll join the ranks of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in being another big-time social media staple.

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