Internet Brand Management Ethics


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Expert search engine optimization firm explores the ethics of common Internet reputation management strategies.

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Internet Brand Management Ethics

  1. 1. Ethics of Online Reputation Management Presented by The Search Guru SMX West Conference February 10, 2009
  2. 2. <ul><li>Censorship </li></ul><ul><li>Misinformation </li></ul><ul><li>Vendetta </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer rights </li></ul><ul><li>Time sensitivity </li></ul><ul><li>Long term reputation </li></ul><ul><li>$$ </li></ul>Why are the ethics of ORM important?
  3. 3. One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don't know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn't matter.” -- Lewis Carroll Image courtesy of Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland site
  4. 4. Common ORM tactics – ethical or not? <ul><li>Depends on how you use them and what is important to your company… </li></ul>
  5. 5. Creating profiles on other sites <ul><li>Right way: http:// </li></ul>
  6. 6. Creating profiles on other sites <ul><li>Wrong way: </li></ul>
  7. 7. Creating profiles on other sites <ul><li>Middle: http:// = user.viewProfile&friendID =412101998 </li></ul>
  8. 8. Contacting sites and trying to get negative remarks removed <ul><li>Right way: </li></ul>Dear Sir or Madam: This is a request for the immediate removal of the following comment from [commenter] on your website at [URL]: [comment] This person has made false, derogatory remarks about our company and owners. Please confirm the immediate removal of this comment to me as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact me. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Your name Contact information
  9. 9. Contacting sites and trying to get negative remarks removed <ul><li>Wrong way: </li></ul>
  10. 10. Contacting sites and trying to get negative remarks removed <ul><li>Middle: </li></ul>
  11. 11. Encouraging positive reviews <ul><li>Right way: </li></ul>Dear [Customer], Thank you for your recent purchase with [Company]. We hope you are satisfied with your purchase. We would welcome any feedback you’d like to share; please visit [URL] to post your comments. We value your patronage and hope you will shop with us again soon. Thank you! [Company] Customer Service
  12. 12. Encouraging positive reviews <ul><li>Wrong way: https:// =NWCTSDZNY9QJXXCX4ZGZ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Encouraging positive reviews <ul><li>Middle: </li></ul>Screenshot courtesy of Dethroner
  14. 14. There are truths on this side of the Pyrenees which are falsehoods on the other. -- Michel de Montaigne 1533-1592, French essayist Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  15. 15. Legal ramifications of less than ethical behavior <ul><li>FTC: do reviews on other sites constitute “endorsement?” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No legal ruling on this </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Legal ramifications of less then ethical behavior <ul><li>Cease & desist: legal, but ineffective because websites are protected </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communications Decency Act – protects forums and blog comments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>First Amendment – protects most personal posts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP)– used to quickly end libel and defamation lawsuits </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Legal ramifications of less then ethical behavior <ul><li>Libel & defamation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Case has to be proven and can be costly in court </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Real World Example <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><li>hosts both patient positive and negative Lifestyle lift reviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and over 1,000 comments to the beauty forum </li></ul></ul><ul><li>January ‘08 trademark infringement complaint filed by Lifestyle Lift Holdings against RealSelf </li></ul><ul><li>Mar 3, 2008 RealSelf filed counter-complaint - alleged Lifestyle Lift Holdings violated terms of use by posing as patients posting reviews on our site </li></ul><ul><li>resolution: 5/12/08  - “this matter was settled by the parties by mutually agreeable terms.” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Google using Pay Per Post <ul><li>Japan pay per post campaign </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google is paying internet marketing company Cyberbuzz to post good reviews of their new keyword widget </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>posters admit to participating in a pay-per-post campaign </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>posts are showing in Google Blog Search Japan </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Conclusion <ul><li>The ethics of ORM should continue to be discussed. Create a corporate balance sheet of the kind of company you wish to be and decide if the tactic interferes with that balance. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Free Reputation Management Resources: <ul><li>Free Whitepaper: </li></ul><ul><li>Legal Cases: list of recent cases and current status / resolution </li></ul>