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Digital and Online Reputation Management by Chris Abraham of Gerris for The Social Media Monthly


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We invite you to join us online to learn about digital and online reputation management. December 19th, 2014 1pm - 2pm EST

Online reputation management (ORM) is the practice of making people and businesses look their best on the Internet. To accomplish that, people need to control their online search results because they frequently contain inaccurate, misleading, or outdated material which can adversely influence how web searchers view them. Online reputation management is akin to defensive SEO.

Presenter: Chris Abraham

Chris Abraham is Gerris digital's founder and principal consultant. Gerris is a full-service digital strategy firm that reaches deeper into the conversation than any other agency anywhere. Gerris digital offers Internet and digital strategy consulting services. Gerris reaches deeper into the conversation online than any other agency anywhere. Chris is a leading expert in digital: search engine optimization (SEO), online relationship management (ORM), Internet privacy, and online public relations with a focus on blogger outreach, blogger engagement, and Internet crisis response and brings these skills and the skills of his partners, associates, and staff to Gerris.

Have questions about Digital and Online Reputation Management? Contact The Social Media Monthly

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Digital and Online Reputation Management by Chris Abraham of Gerris for The Social Media Monthly

  1. 1. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Digital and Online Reputation Management Friday, December 19, 2014 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (EST)
  2. 2. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Take Control of Your Reputation Online About Chris Abraham  Principal Consultant, Gerris Corp Contact info    +1 202-352-5051 Social Media        Chris Abraham Getting to know your presenter
  3. 3. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Intro to Online Reputation Management (ORM)
  4. 4. @chrisabraham #smm #orm What Is Online Reputation Exactly? Your online reputation is  What shows up in the search results  What people say about your company on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites  Any reviews of your company or work environment  Anything published in the mainstream press  Any academic or trade publications  Any photos or videos tagged with your name  Public records connected to your business  You are judged primarily by the first page of search results  Incredibly easy to find and access this information  No filter: everything is available all the time  No statute of limitations: the Web is forever
  5. 5. @chrisabraham #smm #orm How People Search Key Stats  53% of users do not go past the first two results for any given search  89% of users do not go past Page 1 for any given search  99% of users do not go past Page 2 for any given search  You are judged primarily by the first page of search results
  6. 6. @chrisabraham #smm #orm The Importance of Online Reputation  More than 80% of reputation damage risks come from a mismatch between the buzz and the reality (Digimind)  Reputation risk is the greatest risk facing companies, with as much as 75% of a company’s value based on reputation (Economist Intelligence Unit)  92% of Internet users read product reviews and 89% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decisions (eTailing Group) Some key statistics…
  7. 7. @chrisabraham #smm #orm The Importance of Online Reputation Auto dealerships with few online reviews or negative average scores saw their search referral traffic drop by as much as 86% when Google started placing reviews under business websites ( A difference of one “star” in the average rating in a typical online business profile can lead to a 5–9% difference in revenues (Harvard Business Review) 72% of consumers trust online review as much as word of mouth (Local Consumer Review Survey) 85% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase and 89% trust online reviews (Cone Inc.) Consumers are 25% more likely to research online reviews for high-cost purchases such as automobiles (Cone Inc.) 86% 5–9% 72% 89% 25%
  8. 8. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Online Reputation (ORM) Threats
  9. 9. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Inflammatory Google Suggestions Rumors can have a serious impact on your online reputation Suggestions pop up because many people are curious about the rumor1 High search volume creates a feedback loop: Google thinks this is relevant2 New searchers see the inflammatory suggestions, giving criticisms more authority3
  10. 10. @chrisabraham #smm #orm The Web Is Forever Wells Fargo First Interstate Takeover  Major blunders, such as the Wells Fargo takeover of First Interstate Bancorp, live on in the search results  Critical articles from the 1990s continue to rank prominently  Becomes a permanent black mark for anyone doing research on Wells Fargo
  11. 11. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Search Results Are Not Chronological Wikipedia (contains criticism) Company profile Critical news articles Positive image results Attacks by blogger Third-party profile Company profile Critical news article Third-party profile Mark Hurd, former HP CEO, Google p.1
  12. 12. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Results Reflect Old News Example: D. E. Shaw Group  A good reputation requires positive, high-quality validations by third parties  The D. E. Shaw Group has good control of the top few results, but the rest are misleading and give a poor impression Google p.1 Results Outdated news; No mention of D. E. Shaw’s recent positive performance 6–8 No relevant third-party sites in the first page, other than Wikipedia 9–10
  13. 13. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Propagation of Misinformation Example: Whole Foods  A search for “monsanto” brings up the suggestion “whole foods”  Results strongly suggest Whole Foods was bought by or supports Monsanto  In fact, Whole Foods has been a vocal critic of Monsanto for many years Google p.1 Results
  14. 14. @chrisabraham #smm #orm The Reputation Economy Example: Vodafone  The Web gives powerful tools to consumers to validate corporate communications  Online reputation often more important than brand Consumer Generated Art “I Hate Vodafone” Forum Parody Websites/Social Media
  15. 15. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Key People Affect a Company’s Reputation e.g. Commercial Estates Group Limited  Gerard Versteegh has received criticism online for his extravagant tastes  Top of his search results is an inflammatory post on  This result ranks on a search for his company too
  16. 16. @chrisabraham #smm #orm A Note About Style News articles appear in embedded news feed more easily than press releases Google p.1 Results Example: Forest Laboratories  Critical news articles highlight tension between company and Carl Icahn  Public companies have higher coverage based on performance, making losses more visible  ORM is not SEO: Negative Content Is Also Optimized for your Search Results News page only shows negative information, company appears silent in midst of turmoil Waiting several days to respond gives negative press more time to take over results News
  17. 17. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Online Brand Attacks by Consumers Company website 1 Attacks on forums and social media 2–7 Attacks on forums and social media 9
  18. 18. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Defamatory Attacks by Former Clients • One-star rating in the results is enough to deter most searchers Critical blog postings 1–2 Negative reviews 3  Even if libel is proven, website likely to remain online
  19. 19. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Mistaken Identity e.g. Timothy Thurman Lawyer  Top 8 results are about Timothy D. Thurman, arrested by the FBI for committing mortgage fraud against Korean immigrants in Los Angeles • Search results include negative reviews, news articles, and blog attacks  Timothy B. Thurman practices law in Pittsburg and is unrelated to this issue  Only about 10% of prospective clients would actually get to the bottom of the page before deciding to try a different lawyer
  20. 20. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Armoring Your Online Reputation (Before a Crisis)
  21. 21. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Google Abhors a Vacuum Creating online content and dominating search is not about filling Google with junk – but you need to fill the void If you leave your reputation to chance, online, Google will fill the void that is left by your inattention or fear. You need to create fresh content.
  22. 22. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Hiding a Needle in a Needle Stack • Users typically retain their browsers default setting of 10 results/page • Remember that 93% of people never go beyond the first page of search engine results and almost no one goes beyond page three • Online reputation management is akin to defensive SEO • Controlling – and owning – your reputation online depends on pushing negative content down past page three of Google, etc. – owning all the beans
  23. 23. @chrisabraham #smm #orm People Are Already Talking About You Online Listen Before You Leap • Get to know what people are saying about you online – Be specific – Include your staff and executives – Don’t make any assumptions • Note Potential Allies and Enemies – Collect a list of people who are already talking about you • Consider who you may engage • Keep an eye on those who are critical
  24. 24. @chrisabraham #smm #orm People Are Already Talking About You Online Alerts There are online tools that will let you know if you, your brand, and your staff are mentioned online – Google Alerts (free) • – Sysomos Heartbeat • – SDL SM2 • – Synthesio • – Radian 6 • al-media-listening/
  25. 25. @chrisabraham #smm #orm General Principles Prevention is more effective and less expensive than treatment1 Aim to control as many of the search results as possible2 Empty search results create vulnerability3 Avoid clicking on negative/critical websites, which increases their relevance4 Be proactive with online reviews5  (Almost) never comment on critical blogs or forums  Avoid communicating with attackers  Avoid discussing the defamation in online channels  Diversity is important: choose several types of sites
  26. 26. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Building a Good Reputation is Not Easy Actions need to match words1 Pay close attention to public sentiment2 Proactive online reputation to protect against attacks or misunderstandings3 Ongoing, high-quality interaction with stakeholders4 Reputation Management for key executives or other prominent figures5
  27. 27. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Do an Aggressive Domain Name Buy • Misspellings Domains –,,, for example • Variation Domains – for the British, for example, rather than • Similar Domains – Domain investors and marketers often steal traffic and harm brand by creating similarly branded and named properties that succeed parasitically off of common user error and intentional misdirection • One example is, rather than for the home wares superstore • Transposed Letter Domains –,, etc.
  28. 28. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Do an Aggressive Domain Name Buy • Search String Domains – Make a list of keyword search terms and phrases that one might use to find and register as many of them as possible • Staff Member Domains – Consider registering the domain names for your executive team, C- suite, and board • Unfriendly Domains – It is important to make sure that any derisive domain names are registered – Competitors are not above hosting slanderous web sites and web properties – Even though may never be used or even registered, the price of registering even dozens of domain names at $9/year is cheaper than any crisis response or legal actions
  29. 29. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Dominate the First Page of Google Control all possible social media profiles • One of the easiest ways of doing a quick search results land grab is to secure as many social media profiles as makes sense – Be sure to spend some time filling out every required section – Links, bios, names, and keywords are essential parts – Be sure to include all keywords terms that are apropos • can make the process easier
  30. 30. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Review Sites • Encourage your customers to say nice things about you • Make it as easy as possible to write reviews for you – Name the preferred review sites by name – Include review sites’ names (Charity Navigator, Yelp, etc) – Suggest what to write (people have writer’s block) • Don’t be shy to make bold requests for reviews – Displayed at point of sale or in stores – In a message on sales receipt – As part of the official messaging via email, mail, or newsletters – Via social media
  31. 31. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Social Networking Services Social media is becoming an essential pulse point for Google and other organic search engines • Google+ Page – the least popular by arguably most important for influencing Google’s organic search results • Google Profile – Google’s algorithm has changed; Google requires that each contribution is backed by an identifiable “author” • YouTube Channel – The 2nd largest search engine with results that come up in routine Google search • LinkedIn Page – LinkedIn is a powerful and search optimized • Facebook Page – SEO optimized and a powerful platform to prepare in case you need to message during a crisis • Twitter – Ditto
  32. 32. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Become Your Own Publishing Empire • Blogging – as long as it’s on a separate domain • Publishing – many online magazines accept articles – Huffington Post, Medium, BuzzFeed, Forbes, etc • Aggregation – some sites aggregate “best of” content – Business2Community and others repurposed good content – Many feed their content to Google News and Yahoo News • News Source – apply to become a wire service – You can apply to be a source for Google News • Cross-Pollination – many hands make light work – Sharing up – GII can aggregate best of content from regionals – Sharing down – regional Goodwills could share GII news – Share laterally – cross-pollinating across regional
  33. 33. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Influencer Marketing • Online Engagement – people collect and self-organize – find them! – Facebook & LinkedIn Groups, Pinterest boards, Flickr groups, online forums • Blogger Outreach – if it exists, there’s a blog about it – Include the long tail – reach out to hundreds of bloggers and not merely top-25 • Content Marketing – creating stories others will post and share – Guest Blogger – Infographic – Videos – Events – Pledge Drives I have been doing earned media marketing for over seven years, including blogger outreach and influencer marketing for Alzheimer’s Association, The Fresh Air Fund, Greenpeace, Habitat for Humanity, International Medical Corps, and Miriam’s Kitchen – bloggers and other influencers are willing to bend over backward to help out – for free (that’s what earned media means)
  34. 34. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Evading Long-Term Damage (After a Crisis)
  35. 35. @chrisabraham #smm #orm When a Crisis Occurs: Don’t Panic! • Don’t click – If you find anything bad online don’t click on it (Google tracks building interest) • No, do not speak to the media – Take time to prepare your response – Your response has consequences – Rely on your crisis managers – Stay off of Twitter, Facebook, etc. • Alert your chain of command – You’re probably not properly trained • Call Communications & Public Affairs – They can give you guidance • Prepare (or activate) talking points – Do not wing a response – Prepare in advance if possible • Initiate online reputation management plan – ORM is about keeping the crisis off of permanent search results – Just because something’s in the news doesn’t mean it’ll end up on search
  36. 36. @chrisabraham #smm #orm The Technique • SEARCH – Actively seek out positive and neutral content about your brand that already exists and aggressively “promote” it to all of the search engines • CREATE – Create additional positive and neutral content about your brand • LEVERAGE – After positive pages and content has been identified and created, leverage established Google mojo Online Reputation Management (ORM) Briefing
  37. 37. @chrisabraham #smm #orm The Effect • NEGATIVE RESULTS BURIED – Those pages we promote climb past the negative pages, and push the negatives down to a point in the results where very few people are ever going to stumble across them • POSITIVE RESULTS KEEP THE SEARCH ENGINES’ ATTENTION – We compare this strategy to the sort of countermeasures – called soft-kill measures – that aircraft use to evade missile attacks: chaff-decoys, flare-decoys, and radar decoys Online Reputation Management (ORM) Briefing
  38. 38. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Online Reputation: First Steps Claim and as many useful variations as possible1 Fill out profiles on industry listing sites, review sites, social media (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)2 Create new content: start a blog, publish information of relevance to the business, generate positive press, get involved philanthropically3 Be a part of the conversation: the Web is going to say something about you whether you like it or not4 Engage in social media, communicate regularly with your stakeholders, respond authentically to their concerns, share information of value5 Keep tabs on all of the websites connected to your business, especially those you don’t control: forums, review sites, social media6
  39. 39. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Common Mistakes
  40. 40. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Mistake: ORM Isn’t SEO Example: Com Hem  One of Sweden’s largest telecom providers  No amount of SEO spend can fix an ORM issue Company website is optimized 1 Critical websites/forums also optimized 4–5 Unrelated travel site 10
  41. 41. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Mistake: Relying on Litigation  Success rates are low (although sometimes litigation is appropriate)  Weigh the pros and cons: litigation can make the problem worse e.g. British Chiropractic Association  In 2008, the British Chiropractic Association sued science writer Simon Singh for criticizing them  Provoked serious backlash  Even 4 years later, half of the Page 1 results for the BCA are negative portrayals of the case
  42. 42. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Mistake: Will-Not-Review Agreements Why not?  Ethically questionable  You may end up on the “Wall of Shame” of review sites  Unlikely to hold up in court:  Coerced agreement  First Amendment violation  Alienates clients and prospects  Encourages searchers to go digging for negative reviews
  43. 43. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Mistake: Threatening Litigation Why not?  Most attacks by clients fall under the category of opinion, not considered libel  Negative information may be reposted even if successfully taken down  Litigation tends to attract a landslide of negative reactions  Even if you win, your reputation may have already been irreparably damaged  Search for “gelareh rahbar dds”  Google p.1 #4, 2 years later  Seen by >50% of potential patients
  44. 44. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Mistake: Posting Fake Reviews Why not?  It’s illegal  Can be detected algorithmically  Short-term, ineffective solution  You will get caught up in the review authenticity “arms race”  Review sites and researchers constantly refining approaches  You need to keep buying into fake-review services forever to one-up them  Savvy reviewers can spot fakes and read up to 10 reviews before making a decision  If people see a lot of fakes, you risk an online backlash FTC Guidelines on Fake Reviews
  45. 45. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Mistake: Commenting on Attack Blogs/Forums Why not?  Places emphasis on the unwanted content, pushing it higher  Search engines will think this content is more important than it is  You probably won’t change the visitor’s mind  Likely to attract additional attacks based on your comments  Search for “edward dove dds”  Google p.1 #3, 1 year later  Seen by >60% of potential patients
  46. 46. @chrisabraham #smm #orm We would be happy to help Do You Have Any Questions?
  47. 47. @chrisabraham #smm #orm Take Control of Your Reputation Online About Chris Abraham Chris Abraham Feel free to get – and keep – in touch with me!  Principal Consultant, Gerris Corp Contact info    +1 202-352-5051 Social Media       