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Top 10 online reputation mistakes you may be making

There are several mistakes most business professionals don’t know they’re making online, and it’s not always a bad review that gets the ball rolling!

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Minding the store

What is the number one challenge of any professional today? Being everywhere at all times. Answering the phone, tending the store or clients, rushing to pick up this or that, getting email at all hours, checking in to Twitter, remembering Facebook, and the like. It can be daunting to keep up today. This presents a challenge as consumers are researching companies’ reputations online, so the question is – as you mind the store, are consumers finding you online in a light you’d like to be presented?

Cliff Stein of Reputation Changer tells AGBeat, “If you’re a small business owner, your online reputation is the most important asset you’ve got. It’s more than just your business card—it’s the very source of your credibility, the thing that makes people willing to do business with you in the first place. All it takes is a single bad review or negative Google listing to destroy that reputation; the most costly online reputation errors, however, are likely the ones you’re making yourself!”

Reputation Changer is a reputation management company that combats bad reviews and outranks the negatives with positive for its clientele of small businesses, celebrities, universities, politicians and average Joes, so they see a lot of mistakes made online every day that could be circumvented simply by people knowing what mistakes to avoid.

Top 10 reputation management mistakes

Stein outlines below the top 10 reputation management mistakes that small business owners make – probably without even realizing it.

  1. Failing to control the message about your brand. When it comes to your company, or even your industry, you never want to be in a position where other people are writing the narrative. That’s why this is Job #1. If there’s a major happening at your company—whether good or bad—you want to be right there on the forefront, delivering press releases and putting your own spin on things.
  2. Responding in anger to negative reviews. In fact, responding to reviews, on sites like Yelp.com in particular, is something you might just avoid altogether. A response only lends validity, and draws attention, to the negative review; what you really want to do is suppress it with all that positive content we mentioned before.
  3. Forgetting to monitor your online reputation properly. Reputation defense always comes back to monitoring—because if you don’t know what people are saying about you on the Web, how can you even begin to defend yourself properly? Setting up Google alerts, and periodically combing the social networks, should be high on your reputation management to-do list.
  4. Letting other people snatch up the prime online real estate. If a rival company or disgruntled employee wants to attack your online reputation—and if they’re really smart and cunning about it—they’re going to snatch up exact-match domain names for your small business. (If your company is called Nashville Emporium, those domains would include nashvilleemporium.com, org, and .net, for instance.) Don’t let them do it. Buy those domain names yourself, even if you don’t plan to use them right away.
  5. Staying out of social media. If you’re looking to shore up goodwill and positive press for your small business, regular activity on Facebook and Twitter is utterly essential.
  6. Letting just anyone manage your social media. Having said #3… it’s also important that small business owners be careful about exactly who is using their social media accounts. Once something is out there on the Internet, there’s no way to fully reel it back in or undo the damage—so either impose strict policies about what can and cannot be said on Facebook and Twitter, or just do it yourself. Social media updating should not be a job for the summer intern.
  7. Letting just anyone ghostwrite your business blog. Having a blog is a great way to showcase a more personal side of your company. The passion you have for your industry isn’t going to shine through if you’ve got a ghostwriter handling it, though. Make sure this is something you do yourself!
  8. Neglecting to publish content about your small business. The best way to ward off online attacks or negative reviews is to build a wall of positive press—a wall built out of strong, compelling content, published to your website as well as social media accounts.
  9. Failing to pump up your business with positive reviews. Having phony reviews written on your behalf is something that will likely come back to bite you, but there’s nothing wrong with asking your best clients to pen a quick five-star rave of your products and services.
  10. Getting into controversy. This may almost go without saying, but… if you’re a small business owner, then your own persona is a big part of your brand’s online reputation. Using your Facebook page or Twitter account to sound off about politics or religion is probably a poor idea!

As you assess the web as part of your marketing strategy, make sure these 10 mistakes are solved, because you don’t want you to be the reason you have a bad reputation online!

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Alanaollyjsn

    June 9, 2012 at 6:57 am

    @onesouthrealty https://t.co/6B4CHoAw

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Social Media

Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.

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twitter privacy

Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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Social Media

Facebook’s Forecast wants ‘qualified’ predictions, but no one’s asking why

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is asking a bunch of so-called experts to chime in on what the future holds, but can we trust them with the information we’re giving them?

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Forecast app

These days, trolls don’t necessarily lurk beneath bridges in order to ensnare unsuspecting travelers. Instead, they hide out in the comment sections on social media posts, ready to incite wrath and stir up controversy with their incendiary remarks. Because Facebook knows how quickly reasonable discourse can quickly devolve thanks in part to these online trolls, they’ve made a move to establish intelligent discussions through their new “Forecast” app.

The premise of Forecast is fairly straightforward. Facebook has invited an assortment of so-called experts (whether they work in the medical field or academia, or some other field) to cast their vote on predictions about the future. Not only will they share their vote, though, they’ll also pitch in their own two cents about these predictions, sparking what is expected to be insightful and reasonable conversation about the topics.

However, while the premise is exciting (smart people! not basement dwellers! talking about serious stuff!), there’s more than a small amount of risk associated with Forecast. For starters, what exactly is Facebook planning on doing with all of this information that is being volunteered on their app? And secondly, are they going to take precautions to help prevent the spread of misinformation when these results are eventually published?

The fact is, Facebook is notorious for propagating and spreading misinformation. Now, I’m not blaming Facebook itself for this issue. Rather, the sheer volume of its user base inevitably leads to flame wars and dishonesty. You can’t spell “Fake News” with at least a couple of the same letters used in Facebook. Or something like that. The problem arises when people see the results of these polls, recognize that the information is being presented by these hand-picked experts, and then immediately takes them at face value.

It’s not so much that most people are simple minded or unable to think for themselves; rather, they’re primed to believe that the admittedly educated guesses from these experts are somehow better, smarter, than what would be presented to them by the average layperson. The bias is inherent in the selection process of who is and isn’t allowed to vote. By excluding everyday folks like you and me (I certainly wasn’t given an invite!), undue prestige may be attributed to these projections.

At the moment, many of these projections are silly bits of fluff. One question asks, “Will Tiger King on Netflix get a spinoff season?” Another one wonders, “Will Mulan debut on Disney+ at the same time as or instead of a theatrical release?” But other questions? Well, they’re a little more serious than that. And speculating on serious issues (such as COVID-19, or the presidential election) can lead to the spread of serious — and potentially dangerous — misinformation.

Facebook has implemented very strict guidelines about what types of questions are allowed and which ones are forbidden. That, at least, is a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that expectation can actually lead to the predicted outcomes, directly influencing actions and behaviors. While it’s too early to tell if Forecast will ever gain that much power, it undoubtedly puts us in a position of wondering if and when intervention may be necessary.

But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t exactly trust Facebook’s ability to put this cultivated information to good use. Sometimes a troll doesn’t have to be overtly provocative in order to be effective, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see someone in a position of power exploit the results of these polls to influence the public. It’ll be interesting to see if Forecast is still around in the next few years, but alas, there’s no option for me to submit my vote on that to find out.

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Social Media

Well established Pinterest has a new competitor, Google Keen

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Google is constantly playing catch up, their new target is Pinterest. They have a new photo sharing social media app called Google Keen.

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Google Keen

It looks like Pinterest might finally have some competition: Google Keen. Notice the heavy emphasis on the word “might”.

It’s not hard to see why Google might feel a tad encroached upon by Pinterest, a photo-sharing and search-based platform; while Pinterest’s impact is relatively small in terms of taking traffic from the G-people themselves, any competition is unwelcome in Google’s eyes–perhaps justifying their move toward creating their own version of Pinterest.

Google Keen isn’t a direct ripoff–after all, they changed the name–but the general principle is the same: Users can create a “keen” for a specific visual topic, thus allowing them to search for, and add images of that topic. Google was quick to cite “bread” as a possible topic, which, according to Social Media Today, is a direct nod to recent Pinterest trends.

Subtlety never was Google’s strongest suit, and that seems to be a theme they’re reiterating here. Perhaps that’s why the Google Graveyard, a site we’ve addressed in the past, is full of tools that didn’t live up to their original inspiration (one of the latest additions being the half-baked Google Hangouts). Google Keen shows promise, but one can’t help but remember how Google’s Circles feature fared in Facebook’s shadow.

Keen is available for web and Android platforms, which answers one question while raising a few more. For example, while it makes sense that Google would brand Keen for their own smartphone audience, iPhone Google usage is notably high, and the Pinterest crowd loves a clean aesthetic (that’s another point in the Apple camp). As such, it might be in Google’s best Pinterests–I mean, interests–to implement an iPhone presence for the app as well.

It is worth noting that Google has taken deliberate inspiration from Pinterest in a lot of ways. So Keen may be a way for them to tout their adopted features and familiarize users with them so that, in the long run, they are able to begin migrating traffic back to their own platform from Pinterest. In a time in which any competition may open the door to disaster down the road, this is a move that, despite skepticism, makes sense.

After all, the Google Graveyard is operating at capacity, yet the tech behemoth continues to chug away. Who knows where their newest “innovation” may take them?

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