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Posts tagged ‘being googled’

29
Dec

2010 in Review: Twitter, Facebook, Wiki-leaks, Online Reputation Management and Jillian Michaels

In an effort to summarize the past year as it comes to a close, here is the Steven C. Wyer Top Ten List for 2010. Because our company, Reputation Advocate, provides search engine reputation management and online reputation services, our perspective is a little different. We offer this brief summary in the hope that provoking you to thought will compel your awareness and action to manage your online reputation.

  • Facebook passed 500,000,000 subscribers and the movie Social Network became a box office hit. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, beat out Nancy Pelosi, Labron James, Lady Gaga and the Chilean miners to become Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.  Foreign leaders are clamoring for a private meeting with the twenty four year old multi-billionaire. You have to admit that this is pretty impressive considering no one had heard of Facebook five years ago. Oh, and did I mention that the company’s market value is forty billion dollars? Reputation Advocate believes that social media is here to say. From an online reputation management perspective you are more exposed than ever.
  • Online privacy issues came to the forefront on several levels but none as concerning as Google.  The company was forced to admit that they gathered a bit more information than previously disclosed as they captured images of every building found in cities, towns and villages around the world. In 2010 Google was sued for privacy violations by Germany, Spain and Switzerland…but not by the United States. Our government’s perspective is that Google didn’t mean to violate our right to privacy; it was an accident. No harm–no foul. NOT! If I was cynical I might believe that Google and the current administration were doing more than business as usual.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Google and Microsoft are bidding to provide cloud computing for our federal government! We believe that 2010 has been the year when the information found about you on search engines crossed the tipping point and there is no going back. Not being “on the Internet” is no longer an option so you had better take pro-active measures to insure that you know and influence what is found. Your online reputation depends on it!
  • Net neutrality is another 2010 buzzword that most people had never heard a year ago. This benign term will impact your life and your reputation both off- and online more than almost any other federal government action initiated in 2010. The concept of everything being “fair and equal” for Internet use sounds good. However, I am not in favor of putting the FCC in charge of something that is evolving into the control of access to the Internet when it influences almost every aspect of our daily lives. The operation of the Internet is too important to be left to the FCC, whose record of consistent failure in regulation starts with its control over radio back in 1912. The rise of an alternative technology is the best way to break the further intervention by the federal government into our lives. Give me free enterprise over government propaganda any day.
  • The power of social media struck in 2010 where it was least expected. Over the last twelve months social media sites have assisted the FBI in apprehending fugitives, provided virtual weddings and funerals that can be attended globally and broadcast births and suicides. People have gotten jobs, been fired, arrested and sued because of conduct exhibited online.  We have learned that pictures and video matter, that your personal information can be hacked and that no one really takes responsibility for the violations when they occur. Law officers now study the legal implications surrounding social networking.  Legal advisors confront law enforcement from First and Fourth Amendment considerations to liability and litigation issues.  Law enforcement is creating policies to govern law enforcement officers’ off-duty use of social media tools. Social media provides all users with an identity and a social footprint that follows them across the web.  It’s moving very fast and we had better acknowledge the speed at which this train is moving.
  • Google’s estimated 1,000,000 servers house an untold amount of information – about you. They have pictures of your house, have illegally obtained the IP address of your specific computers (unless your network is secure, and most aren’t) and Uncle Sam isn’t compelled to protect us. The government did, however, announce in April that every public tweet since Twitter’s inception in March 2006 would be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets! Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions. There now, don’t you feel safer? (Note to self: What happens in social media matters to you whether you like it or not.)
  • Internet complaint and online slander sites have grown from the hundreds to thousands. There is no legal recourse available to the millions of individuals and small businesses whose online reputations are attacked every day and the federal government continues to enforce federal laws that protect Internet service providers while leaving taxpayers totally exposed to anonymous attacks that can destroy lives, businesses and futures. Hundreds of unknown “online reputation management” companies located in Eastern Europe, Pakistan, India and other countries are either attempting to provide search engine reputation management services or promote online slander sites for profit…or both! Online reputation management has moved from throwing rocks at a complaint to client focused content creation, quality back links and broader online defensive strategies. Aside from strides made by online reputation repair service providers such as Reputation Advocate, there is no positive change foreseen in 2011 so you had better batten down the hatches because the online reputation storm is getting stronger.
  • So now that I have convinced you that the Internet isn’t as safe as you had hoped, let’s talk about local and location based marketing to cellular devices. Marketers have dreamed of this for years and 2010 was the year that it turned the corner. Estimates are that total revenue for 2010 will approach $1 billion. Much of this is driven by your street address or the GPS functions on your cell phone. It is a convenient set of services that cloaks the additional ability to track people. Everyone is so enthralled with location based social networks like Foursquare (currently adding 100,000+ new users a week) that little has been written in 2010 about the shadow side of services like this. But again, because of the online reputation management services that Reputation Advocate provides, we always see things a bit differently. The thought of being notified about sales and coupons based on your GPS location or the ability to download apps that identify who you are, where you are and what you are doing may have long term ramifications that are not yet foreseen. Did I mention that our government is archiving every single public tweet?
  • 2010 saw website failures and crashes from the likes of Skype, Wikipedia, WordPress, Gmail worldwide and PayPal. The Internet is not quite as stable and solid as most of us would like to believe. It’s a complex system, like a living organism, and things do break. With an estimated 2 billion users, 5 billion photos, 75 million websites registered in the U.S. alone and 160 million blogs active daily, you have to figure something is going to break. 2010 showed us that when it does, life as we have come to expect it stops.
  • 2010 brought us another term previously unknown to most individuals. WikiLeaks brought nations of the world to their knees. The new face of war emerged, and even the Pentagon couldn’t attack it. When you stop to consider that every piece of digital communication can be retained and harvested for incriminating information against an individual, company or government you may be saying like us, “Holy crap, Batman!” Again, the immediate impact from online slander may be embarrassment, the loss of a job or a client leaving, but the long-term potential implications are sobering – if nothing else. The thing that amazes me is that as most people read this information, they are not even aware that it is taking place all around them. Anarchy by the masses has always been discussed but anarchy created by the few who have access to unfiltered information … that is a game changer for the world. The response, to have New York publishing firm Alfred A. Knopf sign Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks to a million dollar book deal…what can I say?
  • And finally, GoDaddy has a new spokesperson, fitness guru Jillian Michaels from Biggest Loser. How is that for leveraging a cross promotion! No big deal, you say?  Well, GoDaddy has almost 500,000 new website registrations monthly. That means that Jillian picks up a potential 6,000,000 new fans annually. Perhaps my most compelling argument for the positive that is brought into all of our lives through the worldwide web.

As we enter 2011, consider this: Pandora’s box is open, it will never be closed again and our options are condensed down to two. You can engage with social media and participate and influence how you are seen on the Internet – or you can pretend that nothing is happening.  If 2010 has taught us anything, it is that the Web, social media and poor public policy have left us naked and unprotected. The only question that remains is, what will you do about it?

While it is said that people are innocent until proven guilty, Steven Wyer experienced first hand that the Internet has interrupted such long held notions of justice. As managing director of Reputation Advocate, an online reputation management company, Steven Wyer now helps others who have been slandered online as he was. Adding the title of published author to his string of professional accomplishments, Steven Wyer has written Violated Online. In the book he offers more than 50 specific tips on how the reader can better prepare for an unexpected online attack. For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you repair your online reputation, call 888-229-0746 or go online to http://reputationadvocate.com 

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24
Jan

YOUR LIFE IS A RESUME

I remember buying a book on how to write the perfect resume. Sure, this was back in the day when information came mainly in written form, and recommendations included high quality paper choice and choosing the right type font. Still, nearly every time I go to Kinkos I see people laboring over a paper choice; amazing.

Here is a news alert for you: YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS A RESUME AND YOU HAD BETTER READ IT!

When I was a young salesman, my dad use to tell me that it was important to wear the proper shoes and drive the right car. “They don’t know your family, where you live or who you voted for, but they will evaluate you by your shoes and a car – that’s the ticket.” It should be noted that at eighteen I was driving a brand new Oldsmobile Toronado; red with white leather. I also took a keen interest in Italian shoes way before my time, but that is another story.

We tell our reputationadvocate.com clients that the necessity to put their best foot forward is still essential but it’s a whole new world. “Your best foot” is now electronic and global. It is not primarily anything you have put in print; it’s not even your speaking in the first person. Even without your knowledge, here is what can be found out about you quickly:

Where you live:
The white pages are electronic. Any public social site you have joined is a potential gateway to your address and phone number.

What your house looks like and what it’s worth:
Have you heard of Zillow.com? Virtual appraisals, recent sales, and if your house is currently for sale. How about Google Maps – is your house on an acre lot, one or two stories, do you have a swimming pool, a garage, property taxes?

Who are your neighbors?
Grab an address from Zillow, log in to a reverse append address site and enter the address. See what comes up. Google them. Who are they and what is their resume?

Political giving:
What you have given to political campaigns – contributions by amount, candidate and party.

What you read:
It can be found on Facebook, Anobii, Reddit, Amazon; there are hundreds of book reading sites.

Community involvement:
Memberships, if lists are published. Fraternities, sororities, associations and clubs.

Anyone can find this type of information out quickly with just a little effort. HR directors and headhunters are particularly quick. So if you’ve applied for a job and you don’t get a call back, you may want to take a look at the information they are finding. All of this combines to build an online resume. You can methodically create content or your content will certainly create a perception of you. It’s your choice.

This type of transparency can be both threatening and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Utilizing various websites, blogs and social sites, you can choose to disclose aspects of your life that others will find helpful in evaluating who “you” are. In the same way that you would painstakingly work through a printed resume, lay out a plan for your online content.

Reputationadvocate.com can help you define what information will be presented. Education, community and social activities, interests, travel, family and work history can all add up to build a very positive online “you”. If you have published research for school or work, find a channel to publish it online. Select pictures that present you in the most favorable light possible. Grammar, punctuation and sentence structure – all of the same components used in a written resume –  are needed in building a strong online presence.

And here’s one final thought. Have someone proof for you. While asking for help in proofing a written resume seems logical, most people don’t take it into consideration when they create online content. Since most sites do not have spelling and grammar checking functions, the probability for error is high. Nothing reflects quite as poorly on someone as when important information has errors. Take the time to have someone read the content as soon as it is posted up. Get comments back and then edit and correct errors immediately. Remember, what you post goes “live” to the world once you hit Enter.

-Steven Wyer

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

4
Jun

OPRAH ATTACKED WHILE SLEEPING

As far back as May of 2005, Oprah, the darling of day time television, has been ruthlessly attacked morning, noon and night. She is not even safe as she sleeps behind guarded gates and personal security. Despite her estimated billion dollar net worth, she is helpless to defend herself.

First there is oprahsucks.com. There are multiple posts, comments and even a mailing list for this series of attacks. Debbie Schlussel, a conservative political commentator, radio talk show host, columnist, and attorney owns this website and wastes no time in letting her opinion be known.

Then there are the multiple YouTube attacks on Oprah. There are forums, blogs, posts on many different content sites and a dedicated website just so people can voice their distain for her.

Adding insult to injury, this week the stalwart publication Newsweek has come out against the global media diva. She has been attacked through virtually every form of media, but none has given voice to the masses more than the internet. What is the source of my information you may ask? Google. Simple, straight forward search results. Had these types of results been found for a small business owner or business professional, their career would most likely have been ruined. Fortunately, the big “O” has enough money to simply ignore these complaints.

Ordinary, small businesses cannot afford to ignore online attacks. Doctors, lawyers and officers of public companies are severely impacted by online complaints. Even state and national government officials cannot combat this new form of slander. Conventional approaches to reputation management issues simply do not work and ignoring such online information simply supports perceptions that such claims are true.

Fortunately, there are now reputation management service providers that represent clients against negative search engine results. These reputation advocates operate under yet another acronym; SERM. Search Engine Reputation Management professionals bring a unique set of skills and address these complaint sites and negative postings with unconventional discretion. This service business is sure to experience significant growth over the next few years as these online search attacks grow in number and veracity

While the super stars and the super rich simply brush aside attacks on their character, most cannot. As real income and real opportunity are impacted, all professionals must monitor their online presence and manage the content found. Very few of us can simply say “O” well

-Steven Wyer

23
Apr

BACKING UP YOUR HARD DRIVE

Have you ever spent three days working on a document, a very important document? First draft, improvements. Second draft, more corrections and edits. It’s a lot of work.

Paranoid about your work disappearing without warning, you have been diligently hitting “save”. There’s a battery backup plugged in, so that even if there is a power outage you are covered. Your document, a seminal work that represents your life, is protected from all angles.

Then you hear it–a funny sound, a little smoke–the screen goes dark, and nothing. This has got to be a bad dream, you think, so you press the power button hard, several times. Still nothing. You hadn’t thought much about a failure at the foundation of everything; about your hard drive crashing.

Life is a lot like this nightmare. You work hard to build integrity, character and position. You know these are important for your persona, for who people know you to be, for your reputation. Public service, civic organizations, your education and vocation all represent the sum total of days, week and years of investment. And you’ve got it all backed up to. Credit, social network, peers and friends have been assembled over a lifetime and present a very positive picture of who you are known to be.

But then there is an unhappy customer, a disgruntled employee, a jaded relationship and a puff of smoke appears. That funny little sound is coming from customers, friends, or family. You can’t identify it but you know it’s there. Then, a dark screen–lost business, difficulty being hired and a hit to your income. You hit the power button, check your credit score, ask around but you can’t figure it out. You hadn’t thought much about failure at the foundation of your reputation; an online attack.

Your online reputation may well be the most vulnerable place in your life. Because anyone is free to post an opinion on the Internet, it can hurt. While you may cry foul and protest the accuracy of the information, it will be hard to recall. The worst part is that you cannot easily assess the damage. Because when people read something negative, they don’t pick up the phone to confirm the accuracy of what has been posted, they just go elsewhere.

So take a just a moment and do a search on yourself, your company and those close to you. Be aware of what is out there. Then, either clean it up or live with it.

–Steven Wyer, Reputation Advocate

14
Apr

A REPUTATION VACCINE?

You would think that surely there has to be a vaccination for all of this online complaining. After all, Western culture demands a quick solution for every malady that we encounter.

Certainly some smart, academically advanced scholarly type has offered a suggestion. Surprise… Of the following, which one do you think is untouched by online complaint sites such as Ripoff Report?

  1. Doctor reputation
  2. Cosmetic surgeon reputation
  3. Hospital reputation
  4. Nursing home reputation
  5. Dentist reputation
  6. Chiropractic reputation

Answer: None of the above.

And then there’s attorney reputations. Just try searching the term “bad attorney” or go to the blog attorneys-suck. If that vocation can’t find protection, then how about car dealerships, rmoving companies or day care centers? There is a single truth for all companies–and for that matter all individuals–within the reach of the Internet. Anyone can post anything at anytime. No pill, vaccine or magic solution exists.

But there are three things that can be done. First, be aware of what search engines find when your name and/or the name of your business are searched. Second, take advantage of free listings and social sites and third, if you find something negative or bad information on a complaint site like Ripoff Report, then pro-actively fight it.

There are firms such as our company, Reputation Advocate that can do this work, or you can expand your own knowledge and do it yourself. One way or the other you end up either dealing with it, or living with it. Those are the only two options available.

There is a fourth action that you must take. Do not avoid the illness, but face the Internet head on. Remember the old proverb, “An ounce of prevention is better then a pound of cure?” It has never been more true.

-Steven Wyer