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December 15, 2009


by stevenwyer

I remember as a kid playing around the train tracks. They were a couple of blocks from our home, an easy bike ride. We liked to hide in the train trestles as the trains went by.

You could feel the power, the rumble. You had to respect the size, speed and power of these machines. We knew to never get in the way; there was no second chance. This was proven time and again by the most simple of objects, the penny.

Placing a single penny on the railroad tracks and waiting was as big a thrill as anything a third grader could experience. You could see it from a long way off because of the headlight. You could hear the train coming if you put your ear down on the track. You knew the outcome for the poor little Lincoln head before it ever happened; it was just a matter of time.

The year 2009 has delivered to the mainline consumer social media within the Internet, and things will never be the same. I am convinced that online reputation management is moving at such a speed that the average consumer and small business owner has no idea what is coming. Now for the metaphor. A few people have put their ears to the tracks and heard something. Some have looked up and seen something on the horizon, but they are not sure what it is. Nearly everyone falls into the category of the Lincoln penny. It is only a matter of time before the power, speed and size of these changes impacts culture in ways that will surprise everyone.

There are no trestles to hide under. The defense needed is awareness and understanding. This necessarily requires a good bit of reading, hours spent do research online and open-minded discussions with knowledgeable people. Most small businesses have been so focused on just having a website that the power of social media has missed them. And people who had no idea that something so good could do so much damage are feeling the shadow side of this new voice. At Reputation Advocate, we talk to such people every day, so we do hear the rumble. You would be well advised to spend some time learning. Put your ear on the track, what do you hear?

-Steven Wyer

Steven C. Wyer is the Managing Director of Reputation Advocate, LLC ( The firm specializes in online reputation management services for both individuals and companies. Steven Wyer can be reached at 888-229-0746.

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