Aren’t I a Lucky Duck?
Signing my life away to MySpace!
Welcome Chris Abraham!
Many hands make light online reputation work. Changing your reputation online is no small task. It’s also a house of cards. You can either do it yourself, about yourself, for yourself, or you can start the equivalent of an online reputation club, inviting friends, family, your colleagues, and your industry to start building a universe of content that is germane and salient to who you are, what you believe, what you’ve done, and what you’re doing as well as who they are, what they believe, what they’ve done, and what they’re doing.
Wikipedia was created by a bunch of casual experts who collaborated in creating a comprehensive, living, and growing resource of all there is. If the editors and experts at Wikipedia were to take an interest in your, how much of your true narrative, story, song, would they have access to? I know, I know, Wikipedia dictates that all its content be rigorously referenced and footnoted — but let’s assume it were different: and it is!
Google is an emergent Wikipedia, its index is comprehensive, living, and growing — but without the editors. And Wikipedia is only a small part of Google’s index. And unlike Wikipedia, anyone and everyone can contribute openly and generously to Google’s index.
You are compelled to become a contributor to Google — to write your very own life and to write your very own truth (to the very best of your ability) — to sing your very own unique song. For if you do not, anyone and everyone else may also, as easily and as completely. To paraphrase “The Cluetrain Manifesto,” people may be already talking about you online; and, even if they’re not right now, there’s no barrier to entry when it comes to other people writing about you copiously into the vacuum that you have left by not taking responsibility for your own storytelling.
And, to paraphrase The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Internet is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to the Internet.
So, if you want to make any inroads into “exploring space” then you’ll surely need to do one or more of three things: become immensely prolific and generative, producing copious amounts of content about yourself; hire my company, Reputation.com, to work with you on maximizing your online reputation profile; or, if you’re intent on captivating Google search but really don’t have the time, the technical prowess, the writer’s gift, or any idea where to start, you can start a reputation club.
Good questions. Since I have only ever done this in a limited way and only organically and over time, this is only conjecture based on years of experience. The first thing you need to do is to read my previous posts about reputation management: The best online reputation defense is a good offense, How to wine, dine and marry into the Google Search Index, and How to take control of your online reputation. Then, you need to take everything I tell you to do in How to wine, dine and marry and figure out how you can convince a bunch of folks to help you accomplish this — but not just for you, most likely, but for everyone who’s willing to take part.
Since reputation management, at a very high-level, leverages pieces and parts of search engine optimization (SEO), you and your friends need to brag about each other in both name and links. Since Google doesn’t know who you or any of your friends are, you need to be very explicit.
While it might be more fun to brag about your friends and your brands online — to tell stories about how they were total nerds in high school or how they impressed you when they interned at your firm — all your work would be for naught if you don’t remember to remind Google again and again both who you are, by name, and who your friends are, by name — and not just their first name, their last name, or their proper name, but in all variations: Chris, Abraham, Chris Abraham, Christopher Abraham, Chris J Abraham, CJ Abraham, Abey-Baby, Broham, Dooga, Zeus, and Uncle Chris — if that’s important to you.
And, in the case of your brands, write out every variation as well. For example, Reputation.com is one name, but there’s also ReputationDefender, Picasso, MyPrivacy, Executive Privacy Plus, and any variation; for my old company, you would write out Abraham Harrison, Abraham & Harrison, AH, and maybe AHLLC — whichever are important to you. And, of course, there’s Socialmedia.biz, Socialmedia dot biz (follow us at www.facebook.com/socialmediadotbiz), Social Media Business.
Google only posseses the most basic and primitive skills in putting disparate contexts together. While I do believe Google does know that Chris is short for Christopher, Google always errs on the side of the literal. Not only will Google always serve content based on literal search if all possible, but Google has no understanding at all of pronouns — so if you want to do this right, you’ll need to throw out your copy of Strunk & White‘s Elements of Style and always choose not he, him, they, or Chris, but write out your proper name when possible.
Linking is also important, so as you build your own story online, you can either link to your own work or to other pages — using your your own name as the linking text — or, you can have all the other folks who are part of your reputation party mention you in their story-writing, in their bio-writing, and in their profile-writing, linking you you and your new content not only by name but also by turning these names into “hot” text links.
None of this has to be perfect. Never let the perfect get in the way of the good enough. While you might surely want the content you’re writing to be appealing and compelling to human visitors, you also need to be even more compelling to three indices: Google’s, Bing’s, and Yahoo’s. (Who am I kidding, you only have to appeal to Google.) So, be comprehensive, be awesome, and give till it hurts but be sure to get stuff up there — don’t write your online search legacy the same way you wrote your master’s thesis or your it-took-us-forever-to-make-it-perfect website and sales assets — write it quickly and personally and even imperfectly — it’s in your flaws thet the magic happens (though you don’t want to come across to your human visitors like a MySpace illiterate moron either).
I know I make this all sound super-easy — and it is! For me! Because I love writing, because I can write super-fast and pretty well publish-ready in a single draft, and because I really, really, really love this stuff. (Maybe I am one of the very first digital natives, though I am seriously old!)
For you, maybe not so easy. That’s when the motivation of a large group, broken up over time, can really help you. So, use your team, your pack, your reputation quilting bee, to motivate you and keep you on task, yes, but also pumped about it. Turn it into a game — the way I see the Internet. I mean, I really like Angry Birds but I love hacking reality in the form of influencing an impossibly hige and formidable search-o-sphere — the Googleverse — with my simple photos, graphics, text, and links! Amazing!
So, give it a go — and if you’re overwhelmed and starting to feel a little hopeless, don’t worry! Contact me to make everything OK if you need some help with your reputation. And add a commentbelow — because I guarantee that if you have a question, they lots of other people do, too — and I am here to help.
You can’t ignore the power that search holds for your business. If you’re a serious business person whose business isn’t digital, you’re probably too busy making money to fool around on social media. Social media’s stupid, right? Just baby pictures, workout check-ins, adorable kittens and the self-indulgent ramblings of under-employed folks too far to either the left or the right to amount to much.
Just because you’re old-fashioned doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t working.
Big business has adopted many of the tools of the digital age, but it hasn’t gone native — because it doesn’t need to. Big money doesn’t need digital to do big business. It’s just cream — an additional channel for additional revenue.
There’s a lot of business being done and a lot of money being made using ’50s-era technology: phone calls, meetings, conference calls, lunches, dinners and hours at the club or the golf course. The Internet has not usurped the traditional, it has merely enriched it; however, there’s also no barrier to entry so this party isn’t exclusive but it’s super-saturated with powerful influencers and new media gods. So, please beware.
Yes, I know: you’re too busy for all of this rubbish. But the truth is, you cannot afford to let another day pass without sending in your social media and search insurance premium.
While I appreciate how valuable your time is, you’re playing a very dangerous game of Russian Roulette. The reason you’re so accomplished is because you are a shrewd judge of the landscape — and the landscape has changed and it includes not just what’s said by your communications team, your press releases, the New York Times, the Financial Times, or even MarketWatch.
Folks are already talking about you online — or soon will, gladly and badly.
The social media lunatics have taken over the Internet asylum, and unless your very own personal voice, face, story, narrative, history, resume, wins and losses are fed into the Googlesphere, you’re vulnerable to whatever anyone cares to say about you, no matter who. No doors, gates or private security will insulate you from attack, insult and slander.
There is no armor available to protect you besides the active armor that is your own version of yourself online in the form of your biography, personal history and content, content and more content. You need to get in front of the storm that’s sure to come. You need to develop and populate your own personal Whitmanesque song of yourself onto the Internet, into search-optimized text, links, images and photos — and you need to do it well in advance of any problems you might potentially ever have, no matter how discrete and low-profile you might fancy yourself.
Back in the day, the Internet witch hunt was for politicians, then it became bankers, now it’s evolving toward anyone and everyone who’s thriving in free enterprise and pursuing the American dream, especially as it relates to what’s going on in Washington and the elections. There’s never been a worse time to take your ball and go home. So, it’s better to take some time, get together with your lawyer or business partner, and approve reams of text and start speaking for yourself, your life, your choices and your accomplishments instead of letting someone else speak for you (they’re never nearly as charming as you and your colleagues are, that’s for sure).
“But where?” you ask. Well, you first need to build out any sites you already have, including all your companies, foundations and boards. Next, you should become a blogger — or at least develop a process to produce blog content since Google adores blogs and seriously understands the architecture and framework of most blog platforms. Finally, you should start populating every social network service, social bookmarking site and social news site. Here’s an incomplete though comprehensive list for you to start on:
43 Things, Badoo, Bebo, Blog.com, Blogetry, Blogger, Blogster, CafeMom, Cyworld, delicious, deviantART, Diaspora, Digg , Diigo , douban, eToro, Facebook, Flickr, Flixster, folkd , Foursquare, Friendster, Google+, GovLoop, hi5, italki.com, iWiW, Jaiku, LinkedIn , LiveJournal, Meetup, mixi, Mubi, Myspace, Netlog, Newsvine , Ning, Open Diary, Orkut, Pinboard , Pinterest, Plaxo, Plurk, Posterous, Reddit , Squidoo , StumbleUpon, tribe.net, Tumblr, Twitter, TypePad, Virb, Vox, WordPress.com, Xanga, XING
Do exactly the opposite of what you’d like: Reveal ’til it hurts.
You need to reveal yourself completely — as much as you, your spouse and lawyer agree to, anyway (forget your kids, they’ll be embarrassed, of course) — and you need to give ’til it hurts and well past your normal tendency toward discretion and your obsession with privacy. That Sea-Dweller on your wrist isn’t pretension, it’s because you’ve been a world class Submariner for yours — but you need to come up for air from now on, otherwise, you’re sure to be sunk.
Feel free to own the yacht but hire a crew if you’re not yet seaworthy. If you get my drift and want to adopt the yachting lifestyle yourself but either don’t have the mad sailing skills yourself, don’t yet posses a world-class crew, and don’t know yet where to go, then you should give me a call or reach out me by email — so I can help you pilot your vessel now, in the tranquil blue-green shallows of the Caribbean, as well as in the roughest seas and into — as well as out of — the storm.
Whichever way you go, please start. You can keep it simple and slow, but start today. You can task your Summer Intern (whatever times’ left), you can push it on your PR or communications team, or you can do it yourself — but do it.
It’s essential that you start feeding your best self online before you’re brought down by just about anyone with a device and a connection to the Internet — and you won’t be able to sue your way out of this one, I promise you.
[author]Yesterday I wrote a post called Blogger outreach is earned media not paid, right? wherein I asked if earned media was a think of the past and whether payola, pay-per-post, pay-per-link, sponsored posts, and site sponsorship were the new de facto in digital PR.
This morning, Gail Gardner wrote a post in response, accusing us digital PR professional of stealing from bloggers since we agencies do get paid for doing blogger outreach only to “talk bloggers into working for free” on our behalf:
These companies want to argue they deserve “earned” media coverage when what they are really doing is BUYING that awareness by paying PR agencies to go out and sell it for them. They aren’t earning it by some good deed or being awesome – they are spending money to get a PR agency to talk bloggers into working for free on their behalf.
NOTE The following is basically a copy/paste of the comment that I left over at the article, so it’s written to Gail, which might read weird, so forgive me on that. At the end of the day, I worship Gail Gardner for starting this conversation so please forgive my mild ‘tude — I am well-caffeinated and really passionate about this topic.
While I don’t believe or agree with a word in this post as the entire premise is flawed, however, I agree with everything that Doc Sheldon says in his comment — thanks Doc (we don’t know each other, I don’t think):
I agree that a blogger should have the option of taking pay for reviews, opinions or publicity, if that’s their chosen business model. For many, it is, and I have no problem with that. But when the required disclosure tells me that a blogger was paid to write about a product or service, it causes me to doubt their objectivity. If they’re okay with that, fine. Personally, I prefer that my readers believe I’m giving them an honest review, so I prefer to do independent reviews. That doesn’t mean that I think that every blogger that receives pay or gifts is being dishonest… just that it casts a shadow of doubt. One I prefer to avoid.
Let me explain the flawed nature. Firstly, I don’t believe that you, Gail, read the post very carefully at all; secondly, I never said their were thousands of exceptional bloggers — I believe that there are a few exceptions — awesome — bloggers, a number of payola bloggers, and then a long tail of passion-players; finally, your line, “they are spending money to get a PR agency to talk bloggers into working for free on their behalf,” is just a little bitter but it is also not true.
We don’t want to get bloggers to work for us at all — we just want each blogger to consider what we’re pitching — yes, to the blogger, but also to the readers. We can only pitch content to the blogger for the benefit of his or her readers.
And, if we’re able to engage with them in such a way that the blogger sees a professional, reputation and content benefit to what we’re pitching, then, and only then, do we “earn” an “earned media” post.
And, the blogger is under zero obligation to write nicely; he or she is allowed his or her own integrity and journalistic distance and is more than able to trash it, to love it, to recommend it or not.
Which is the risk I take when I go any outreach. If my client’s products or services such or if we package it poorly or target it sloppily, then the entire campaign can roll snake eyes at best and at worst, there can be a huge media blow-back.
The biggest flaw in the premise is that we’re stealing from bloggers. That because we’re professionals we’re in some way duping or conning these poor guileless bloggers into doing work for us for free.
With earned media blogger outreach, there must be a win-win-win between the blogger, the client, and the readership or it really doesn’t work at all.
I so do enjoy the conversation, so thank you for that, Gail.