Tag Archives: social media

Protect Your Online Reputation

The internet marketing agency that I work for has been looking to hire an SEO/PPC specialist for a few weeks now, but we’re having a hard time finding the right person.  We’ve been posting ads and getting a decent amount of responses, but not too many people are qualified enough for what we’re looking for.

Today I received the resume of a person who seemed to have just the right amount of work experience and knowledge.  Before I attempted to schedule an interview I decided to Google his name and see what comes up.  There was the usual- links to his LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest accounts (which always rank high), his blog, a popular SEO site that he’s probably mentioned on and his mug shot.  Wait, mug shot?

Guess who just missed out on a job opportunity.  Especially being a search marketing professional and all, the least I expected from the guy was to have a clean online reputation.

At least once in your life, someone important will look you up on Google.  There’s a good chance it’s already happened, as search insiders estimate that that non-celebrity people searches account for more than 10% of Google’s search volume.

Admit it; you’ve Googled yourself at least once just to see what came up. But who else has?  Recruiters and hiring managers will likely look you up on search engines before offering you an interview or job. Colleges have been known to look up students before accepting them.  In my single days I wouldn’t go on a date without Googling the guy first.

Having a person Google your name is something that’s going to happen (again) in your life. If there’s something negative that might come up and hurt you, it’s up to you to fix it.  Here are four easy things you can do to manage your online reputation.

Google Yourself

If you haven’t done this already, start by going to Google and typing in your name.  Make sure you’re logged out of Google so you see standard results rather than personalized ones. Consider the first page of search results for your name your own personal home page. Studies show that about 75% of search engine users never click past the first page, so it’s extremely important to use that real estate to your full advantage.  If you have a common name and share it with some scandalous characters, I would start using a middle name or initial on job applications, your resume and social media sites.

Own Your Name

The term “own your name” refers to “owning” all of the domains that come up in the search results.  I’m lucky- there are no other Casey Kurlanders in the world that I know of, so I don’t have any competition.  But if you look, every search result on the first page for my name is something that I created and pretty much have control over.

SERP

Here are some tips on how to own the first page of results for your name:

  • Get your Linkedin profile to show up first by making sure you have a custom URL with your name.  For example, my LinkedIn URL is www.linkedin.com/in/caseykurlander/ and it always ranks high because the URL matches the keyword searched and LinkedIn has high SEO authority.  To create your own custom LinkedIn URL, go to the “edit profile” section and it’s right there.
  • Google-owned properties like Picasa, YouTube and Google+ often rank high, so make sure to utilize them using your name.  Google+ is great because it’s free and it offers lots of options for providing links, photos, and information you may want to highlight
  • Start a blog and make your name the title.  Also make sure that your name is in the URL.  I recommend using WordPress, as it’s the blogging platform that seems to rank the highest.  It’s also free and extremely easy to use.
  • Be mindful of what you use as your default photos on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn- those also rank high and are often one of the first to show up in Google Images. This also applies to photos that you post on your blog, as many of them will come up.

Fight back!

Depending on the website, the instructions for removing or hiding results vary.  However, information that’s been indexed in Google’s database cannot be extracted from Google search results.  Google has ownership of its database and will not act on negative publicity.  Even if the offending article is removed by the publisher, the content still exists in Google’s database and could be found in a search.

One of the places that you can fight back is Facebook.  There you can mark specific content as public or with varying levels of privacy. To protect yourself, it is best to keep Facebook content limited to friends only. If your online reputation is really bad, you can always give us a call at BMI Elite to remove negative or undesired content associated with your name.

Prevention

The best defense is a great offense- don’t wait until there’s something negative in the search results to improve your online reputation.  A great defense strategy is to have an abundance of positive content on the first page of results.  Go ahead and tweet, post, comment and blog!

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Mark Zuckerberg is Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEO

It’s been a bit of a rough year for Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, following the social network’s disastrous IPO last May.  The company’s stocks have dropped and Zuckerberg has had to deal with some harsh critics.  But he must be doing something right, as he has defeated Apple’s Tim Cook as the highest rated CEO.

According to Glassdoor’s 2013 Highest Rated CEOs index, Zuckerberg received a 99% approval rating from his employees, which is a 14% increase from last year.  While Zuckerberg’s approval rating went up this year, Cook’s went down 4%, from 97% to 93%.  This was enough to not only push Cook out of the top 10, but all the way down to the 18thslot.  Cook’s decline comes about a year and a half after the death of former CEO Steve Jobs and as the Apple’s stock has tumbled almost 40% from all-time highs.

Glassdoor is a free jobs and career community online that offers an inside look at jobs and companies.  The site features “employee generated content” – anonymous salaries, company reviews, interview questions, and more – all posted by employees, job seekers, and sometimes the companies themselves.

To compile its list of Highest Rated CEOs, Glassdoor surveyed hundreds of thousands of employees across many industries.  CEO approval ratings are calculated much the same as presidential approval ratings.  Employees were asked questions such as “Do you approve or disapprove of the way your CEO is leading the company?”

One unnamed Facebook employee told Glassdoor that Facebook possesses “an open community from Zuck on down.” There is “mutual trust companywide and a sense of community and drive, instilled by our CEO who we all truly respect.”

After Zuckerberg, the rest of the top 10 included, in order:

  • Bill McDermott & Jim Hagemann Snabe, SAP (99%)
  • Dominic Barton, McKinsey & Co. (97%)
  • Jim Turley, Ernst & Young (96%)
  • John E. Schlifske, Northwestern Mutual (96%)
  • Frank D’Souza, Cognizant Technology Solutions (96%)
  • Joe Tucci, EMC (96%)
  • Paul E. Jacobs, Qualcomm (95%)
  • Richard K. Davis, U.S. Bank (95%)
  • Pierre Nanterme, Accenture (95%)

Click here to see the full list of Glassdoor’s 2013 Highest Rated CEOs.

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Mistakes That Can Render Your Website Worthless

When I started this blog almost a year ago, I didn’t really have a vision or goal for it.  I just wanted to use it as a place to put my thoughts and to write and document what I’ve learned about the internet marketing industry and life.  I’m up to about 66 followers (thank you, guys!) and the stats tell me that my site has visitors every day.  However, I’m not seeing as many visitors as I had in the beginning and I know it’s my own fault.

The most successful bloggers know that it takes a good amount of time and dedication to keep users coming back to their sites. One of the biggest mistakes that many bloggers make is putting in a ton of work in the beginning, and then kicking back and counting on the website to perform all the work later on.  If you do this, expect to see your traffic decline.  If traffic is your goal, avoid these mistakes that could render your site worthless.

Not Posting Enough

This is where I have gone wrong.  Work, family and life have got me really busy, and I am not updating my blog nearly enough.  Essentially, blogs should be updated with unique content at least once a day, and the most successful ones are often updated multiple times.  For SEO purposes and the sake of keeping people interested, you must generate new articles as often as possible.  Skipping a day here and there is not a huge deal, but posting at the rate that I have been (once every week or two) can kill your site.  Luckily it can be brought back to life, if you commit to putting in the time and work and make it a habit.

Going Overboard With Ads

The goal of many bloggers these days is to generate profit through their site.  However, if you are going to put advertisements on your website, make sure that you are careful not to go overboard.

There’s nothing wrong with a few well-placed ads that provide visitors with links to sites that are relevant to the content on your site. But promoting everything under the sun on your site by filling it with banners and ads is not a good idea.

A Sloppy Appearance

Looks matter.  If your website looks like a lot of work and thought went into it, your audience is much more likely to take it seriously. If you want to attract a decent amount of traffic to your site, give users something that they’ll actually want to look at.  If you have the money, I recommend hiring a web designer to help you build it.

Going Overboard With Images

Just like banners and ads, there is a such thing as too many photos.  A few are good to have, as they add visual interest to your site and can actually help to bring in visitors.  But if you make the mistake of going overboard, it can have the opposite effect and push visitors away.  Don’t use more than a few images for each post.

Posting Offensive Material

Think about who you may be offending before you type!  I cannot stress this enough!  This rule applies to your entire internet life, way beyond just your blog.  This applies to social media, discussion forums and any other articles that you may have written.  I’m careful what I say through emails, even when I’m just talking to close friends.  I have seen first-hand how things that you said long ago can come back to haunt you down the road.  I’d avoid posting content about religion, politics, gossip, and strong opinions on any other controversial topics.  I also recommend being careful about the jokes and pictures you post.

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Valentine’s Day Spending

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  While today is no Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it is still a major retail and e-commerce event, and a boost for stores and shipping companies early in the calendar year.  With the help of the National Retail Federation, UPS , Ad Age and the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey, I’d like to present you with Valentine’s Day by the numbers.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend $18.6 billion overall on Valentine’s Day gifts.

Jewelry is the big-ticket item for gift givers.  $4.4 billion will be spent on diamonds, gold and silver.

$1.9 billion will be spent on flowers today.

$1.6 will be spent on candy; 51% of those surveyed give sweet treats to their loved ones.

Who would have thought- $1.5 billion will be spent on gift cards.

$815 million will be spent on the ones who love us unconditionally- our pets.

UPS will ship 95 million flowers for Valentine’s Day, with the bulk coming from Latin America on UPS temperature-controlled aircraft from Ecuador and Colombia (big rose-growing countries).

6,000,000 are expected to get engaged on February 14; that number is up from 4 million in 2012.

3,000 TONS of flowers will move through a massive refrigerated warehouse in Miami that UPS has set up to keep flowers fresh.

Can you guess what the average U.S. consumer plans to spend on candy, cards, gifts and more this year?  The answer is $130.97- up from $126.03 last year.

So how much is the average woman spending on today? About $88.78, which is less than half of what men are estimated to spend (an average of $175.61 on jewelry, flowers, and a romantic evening out).

40.7% of smartphone owners are estimated to have used their handhelds to shop for gifts.

26.3% of Valentine’s gifts are found online, up from 19.3% last year

29% of those surveyed said they’d post sweet nothings on Facebook.

Americans spend an average of $8.49 on friends for Valentine’s cards and gifts; they’ll shell out an average of $5.12 on colleagues.

7% of consumers who in a survey said they send their Valentine’s message via Twitter in 140 characters or less.

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Instagram Gets Web Profiles

Today, as most social media companies like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn work to improve their mobile interfaces, Instagram has done just the opposite.  The popular mobile application recently introduced web profiles to give users a chance to share photos and find friends on the web.

The photo sharing website looks a lot like the Facebook timeline, which is a good thing because 14 million Instagram users also use Facebook. This is most likely due to Facebook acquiring Instagram for about $1 billion in April. Since Facebook is one of the largest photo-sharing outlets in the world, they have not allowed Instagram to upload any pictures on the web.

This remains true for now, but users are now able to like and comment on other users’ photos, in addition to being able to browse your own and other users’ photos on the web.  It’s so nice to be able to finally view photos on something larger than an iPhone or tablet screen!  Users can also change their name, bio and profile picture via the web.

A lot of marketers are happy to have Instagram on the web because they have wanted to expand their mobile followers to the web. The social network is now a more effective place for brands to boast their services and products.  Instagram did not function before like some of the other more prominent networks did because it was solely a mobile service. When I visited the site before, all that was there was a simple page which welcomed users and some information on how to download the mobile app.  All of Instagram’s traffic so far has come from mobile platforms. This has been the main setback that marketers have faced in seeing their full potential with a photo sharing social media platform. Imagine what brands can do now that it is on the web.

This is something a lot of people wished Instagram did a long time ago.  Websites like Webstagram allows users to surf profiles on the web, but it isn’t the same experience. It is kind of like buying bootleg DVD’s on Canal Street instead of watching it in IMAX theaters. I am really happy with this Instagram launch and I cannot wait to see what they do in the future.  Instagram founder Kevin Systrom has already hinted at more stuff in the works, saying “It’s not the last thing you’re seeing from us on the web.”

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Did You Unfriend Anyone During This Election?

For the last few months, I have been waiting for the election to end.  Not so much because I was eager to know the outcome (I wasn’t particularly crazy about either candidate), but more for the ads, phone calls, and social media rants to end.

In elections past, before the days of Facebook, I couldn’t tell you where most of my friends stood on the political spectrum.  There were no “like” buttons and I didn’t have to listen to a political rant unless I tuned into a talk radio station or was in the presence of someone speaking about a candidate.  But now thanks to social media, I now know how hundreds of my friends feel about Obamacare, abortion, gay marriage, Big Bird, the Middle East, horses and bayonets, marijuana legalization and more.

Sometimes I read and saw a lot more than I would’ve liked to.  If I see one more person threaten to leave the country or post another Sesame Street meme I’m going to scream.  My news feeds were constantly filled with political chatter, and it was negative more often than not.

During this election I realized how politically fired up some of the people I care about really are.  Before social media I had no idea that they were total right or left-wing whack-jobs who had so much to say that they felt compelled to write a 400-word Facebook status every single day.

Many times I wanted to add to my “Most Annoying People on Facebook” list, and a few times I even considered unfriending.  I didn’t, reminding myself that everyone is entitled to their opinion and that it’ll be over soon.

I was not alone in considering to unfriend people.  According to a Mashable poll of 2,772 people, the majority of voters (46%) couldn’t take it anymore and unfriended someone during this election.  Like me, 32% thought about it but didn’t, and 22% didn’t even consider it.

Mashable poll results of who unfriended someone on social media sites during the 2012 election.

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Boca Raton is Least-Tweeted U.S. Presidential Debate of This Election

The presidential debate between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney was right here in Boca Raton, Florida last night.  It was the third and final face-off, but instead of getting into the spirit just two weeks before the election, social media numbers suggest that people have lost interest.

Perhaps it’s because the debate, which focused on foreign policy, was competing with Monday Night Football and Major League Baseball’s NCLS Game 7.  Either way, last night was the least-tweeted debate of this election, generating 6.5 million tweets- less than New York’s 7.2 million tweets and Denver’s 10.3 million.

According to Twitter, the debate’s hottest topics were foreign policy with 54% of the night’s tweets sent, the economy with 20%, terrorism with 9%, taxes with 7% and energy and the environment with 4%.  Tweets-per-minute peaked at 105,767 when Obama hit Romney with the remark, “We also have fewer horses and bayonets,” when referring to the size of the U.S. military force.  What’s interesting is that Google’s search engine also shifted into high gear after Obama’s remark, with a “sharp spike” in Google Searches for “bayonets.”

What did you think of last night’s debate?  Let us know in a comment!

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Think Before You Tweet!

Once again, two large companies have angered lots of people and bruised their reputations by making a simple and increasingly common social media mistake.  The latest two companies to post offensive tweets on their Twitter pages are StubHub and KitchenAid, who each stirred up controversy last week.

StubHub’s tweet, shown below, is estimated to have come from a StubHub employee, or someone pretending to be one.

The tweet was posted at 7:33 p.m. ET. Almost an hour later, at 8:20 p.m., @StubHub posted an apology tweet:

StubHub currently has 19,062 Twitter followers and many of them screen-captured the tweet and posted it all over the site.   According to StubHub’s public relations, the account was most likely hacked, or the user thought they were tweeting to their personal account.  Or perhaps it was just a distraught employee having a really bad day.

StubHub was not the only large company to experience a Twitter disaster this month.  KitchenAid is now doing some serious damage control following an insulting tweet sent out during the presidential debate.  The tweet, shown below, referenced Obama’s deceased grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died a few days before he was elected president in 2008.

KitchenAid also quickly deleted the tweet and issued an apology, but it has already been retweeted many times.  Several hours after the original tweet was posted, Cynthia Soledad, KitchenAid’s senior director of branding, took to Twitter to explain what happened and apologize to President Obama.

Stubhub and KitchenAid aren’t the first to bruise their image via Twitter.  The following are some other notable PR nightmares that came as a result of a Twitter fail:

  • Just days after gunman James Holmes murdered 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July, UK-based online retailer CelebBoutique tweeted that their Kim Kardashian-inspired Aurora dress was the reason for their city being on the news.  The tweet said “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress 😉 Shop: celebboutique.com/aurora-white-pleated-v-neck-strong-shoulder-dress-en.html …”
  • While Egypt was going through a period of violent political protest, Kenneth Cole’s brand took a beating after the company’s Twitter posted a tweet that said: “”Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.”
  • An employee of the American Red Cross released a tweet that said: “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd.” It may have been some awesome free advertising for DogFish Head Craft Brewery, but it was a PR nightmare for the Red Cross.  Luckily, the two companies worked together and managed to turn the disaster into a brilliant fundraising opportunity for the Red Cross.

So what can we learn from these Twitter fails?  Here are a few PR tips on how to draw positive attention to your company’s Twitter page:

  • Choose your account administrators wisely.  Make sure they are professional, responsible, and well versed on the risks of social media.
  • Be attentive and involved in all online conversations about your brand.
  • Realize that mistakes do- and will- happen at some point and have an emergency plan in place.
  • Respond quickly and directly.
  • Have a social media policy and make sure employees and outside agencies hired are aware of it.
  • Be honest, genuine and transparent.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Your audience wants to see the human side of your brand, so have some fun with it.  Just make sure not to have too much fun though!
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Facebook Shares Drop Below $20 Again

So much for a big comeback from Facebook’s stock.

After Facebook stock hit an all-time low of $17.55 a share at the beginning of this month, Mr. Zuckerberg came forward and promised not to sell any of his stock for at least a year.  It was a move that was set to reassure investors and staff who were nervous about Facebook’s stock decline since its IPO in May.  It seemed to work at first, with the stock rising back up to more than $23.

But now the stock has fallen back down below $20 a share in early trading today for the first time in two weeks.  Facebook’s stock has declined this week following a particularly damaging report in Barron’s, which claims that Facebook’s stock is still extremely overvalued and should only be priced around $15 a share.  Another report from IDC also found that the majority of developers surveyed believe that a mobile-first startup would be “likely to very likely” to take away market share from Facebook.

Even though Zuckerberg assured investors that he and the company take mobile seriously, it seems like they have gotten nervous once again.  What is Mark Zuckerberg going to do to try and save the day this time?

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Chinese Social Media

Unlike most of the world, the people of China are not able to enjoy social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube, thanks to the government’s notorious Great Firewall, or as they call it, the Golden Shield.  Although some of these companies’ stated missions are to connect the entire world, they are unable to reach a third of the globe’s population.  There are currently about 513 million Chinese Internet users, more than twice the number of wired Americans.  The Chinese are enthusiastic social networkers, spending 46 minutes a day visiting social-media sites, compared with just 37 minutes in the U.S.

Even if Facebook, Twitter or YouTube did end up being granted a license by the government to operate in China, there is no guarantee that consumers would even sign up.  The local market is dominated by popular social networks with their own diversified business models, and the interest in them and the number of users continues to grow.  Chinese companies have the natural advantage of understanding the nuance of the Chinese consumer, giving them an edge over American sites.

According to Elle Lee, the founder and host of the online show Weibo Today, international audiences and brands usually have no clue about the social media landscape in China.  In an interview with Global Voices, she explains that it can be very difficult to understand to understand what is going on on China’s social media if you don’t speak Chinese.

As a marketer who is passionate about social media, it blows my mind that such a large percentage of the world’s population is using social platforms that the rest of us know so little about.  If I had unlimited time and income to take off and go explore China for a few months, I would.  But until I manage to find a sponsor for this project (or a sugar daddy), I will settle for doing some research to learn what China’s top social networks are and what they do.

Sina Weibo is the hottest social networking site in China right now. It consumes 90% market shares of China’s microblogging services with more than 300 million registered users and about 25 million daily users. It is the most popular social networking site in China’s 1st and 2nd tier cities among city dwellers and white-collar users.

Sina Weibo is often described as the Twitter of China, as some concepts are similar, but it has twice the amount of users.  Like Twitter, it is a big driver for consumer activity and a big celebrity hub.  Both American and Chinese celebrities use the sites to connect with their fans and drive popularity.

Sina Weibo and Twitter are also both comprised of a “tweet” platform where people can post 140 characters, but the Chinese characters go much further than English ones.  140 Chinese characters can tell a full story, as opposed to English, where 140 characters is only about three or four sentences.

Features of Sina Weibo that Twitter lacks are threaded comments, stylized user pages, the ability to use rich media in ‘tweet,’ a badge reward system and Weibo Events.

Like Sina Weibo, Tencent also has a user base of over 300 million people.  It is the preferred platform in China’s 3rd and 4th tier cities and rural areas.  One advantage that Tencent has over Sina Weibo is its ability to sync with all of Tencent’s other social platforms. It is the equivalent of a social media hub, owning many other social platforms including QQ chat and Qzone (similar to MSN messenger and MSN profile accounts). Due to its multiple platforms, Tencent maintains the biggest community in China in terms of sheer registered users.

RenRen is often referred to as China’s Facebook.  The site’s interface, functionality and features are very similar to Facebook.  RenRen is a public company that makes a majority of its revenue through social games like Happy Farmer(similar to Farmville) and the website is filled with ads and product placements within 3rd party applications.

Like Facebook, it began with a predominantly student user base, but it is currently trying to expand.  With over 148 million registered users and 31 million active users per month, Renren is taking over as the top social networking platform for the college-educated population in China.

Youku is a video hosting platform that only loosely enforces copyright laws.  If YouTube and Hulu had a baby, it would be much like Youku, as many popular TV shows and movies are posted freely on it.

In addition to having its own social networks, China also has its own major search giant.  Baidu holds an 80% share of the Chinese search engine market, while Google reaches just 11% of market share.  It was created in 2000 as just a simple search engine, but it has developed into a multifaceted site providing a range of services including a Q&A forum, its own “Wikipedia” and instant messaging.

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