Topic: Reputation

Reputation tips and tricks

Grow Your Online Presence Organically 0

How to leverage non-paid social media content

Over 50 million small businesses use Facebook, 70% of small businesses report using Twitter for marketing, and there are currently 8 million business accounts on Instagram.

What does this mean for your small business?

It means you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed trying to find a way for your small busines to stand out online.

With more pieces of content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram than one person can count, some small business owners turn to paid content instead of organic content to get new social media followers and increase engagement.

CEO of Vayner Media Gary Vaynerchuk explains why you shouldn’t do that:

“No amount of paid media is going to turn bad creative into good content. If you’re a small business, you want to focus on spending your time, money, and effort on creating great content (and a lot of it). The impression you get when someone comes directly to your page is a much more qualified lead and potentially a more valuable customer than someone you got through an ad buy.”

The numbers prove it— when marketers across the country were surveyed, most agreed that organic social media had a higher return on investment, or ROI, than paid social media.

Learn more about social media ROI here.

While it may be tempting to pull out your credit card to grow your small business’ online presence — don’t. Try these 5 things instead:

Display your social media handles in your business

Your customers may not be fans of your social media pages yet, but they are fans of your business!

Make sure your customers know they can find you online — have your social media handles visible in your store, whether it’s on a poster on a wall, on the bottom of their receipt, or on a window decal.

Letting your customers know they can find your business online is the first step to getting them to follow you online.

Focus on visual content

When people are scrolling through their social media feeds, they are more likely to pay attention to images than photos.

Try creating short videos or snapping photos at your business. Sharing these on your social media platforms will be more engaging and interesting to your followers than text-based posts.

Create platform-specific content

Every platform has its own purpose, which means different types of content will perform better on each one.

For more insight into each platform, check out our Facebook Breakdown, Twitter Breakdown, and Instagram Breakdown!

The graphics you create for Facebook may not work as well on Instagram and that Instagram post may not perform as well on Twitter. Get to know each platform, and play around with content specific to each one.

For example:

Show a time-lapse video of your most popular dish being made on Instagram.

Post a photo of a customer smiling with their clean car after having it cleaned at your car wash on your Facebook page.

Share content that’s not yours

While the content you create is excellent, there are customers and people in your community who are also sharing quality content that could be useful for your business.

For example:

If one of your customers posts a photo of their brunch from your restaurant, repost the photo and give them credit.

If you’re a boutique that sells products from local artists, share one of their posts on your page.

Reach out to potential customers

It’s great when customers find your business online on their own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek new customers out yourself!

Social media isn’t just about posting content — it’s about starting conversations.

Don’t be afraid to jump into conversations that are relevant to you business.

For example:

If you’re a gym, search on Twitter for people talking about #fitness or #fitspo, and try replying to their tweets.

To learn more about Twitter Advanced Search, check out our blog post!

If you’re a restaurant, look for people on Instagram in your city using popular food hashtags.

Taking the time to revamp your content strategy instead of just putting money towards your content may take a bit of time, but the payoff will be greater than a paid post.

Want help growing your online presence organically? Get started with us here.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn!

Grow Your Online Presence Organically was originally published in Main Street Hub on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Main Street Hub

Women in Tech: Roundtable with Our Leaders 0

Back (L to R): Qingqing Ouyang, Valerie Pearcy, Nicole Cornelson; Front (L to R): Jenn Bacon, Alicia Dixon, Andrea Maher

Insights from our Leaders in Content, Customer Success, Engineering, People & Sales

We sat down with some of our women leaders at Main Street Hub and asked them about what it takes to be a leader, how they’ve developed their leadership skills, and the best advice they’ve learned along the way.

Hear their stories and learn how you can grow and develop in your own career:

What skills do you find you use most often in your leadership roles?

(L to R): Andrea Maher and Valerie Pearcy

Andrea Maher, Director of Operations Excellence: “Having a growth mindset, listening intently, and problem solving.”

Alicia Dixon, VP, People: “Adaptability, passion, empathy, understanding, and vision.”

Qingqing Ouyang, SVP, Engineering: “People skills, listening skills, communication skills, and development skills.”

Nicole Cornelson, Director of Software Engineering: “Listening, observation, leading by example, setting expectations while providing consistent and clear feedback, and understanding people.”

Valerie Pearcy, VP, Content: “Honing communication skills, maintaining strong relationships across teams, and creating, interpreting, and making decisions from data.”

Jenn Bacon, VP, Learning and Development: “Problem-solving, communication, multi-tasking, organization, prioritizing, gratitude, adaptability, resourcefulness, self-awareness, and persistence.”

How did you build your leadership skills over the years?

Andrea: “My early years were spent in public relations, which taught me how to interact and communicate with really bright and creative journalists. It was a great lesson in balancing taking charge with having a good time. After that, I went to business school and then spent 12 years in management consulting across several different industries. In consulting, you learn very quickly to not make assumptions about a business or to be paternalistic — it’s so important to respect the individuality of each business and to quickly gain a deep understanding. My next chapter at HomeAway taught me not just to see opportunities to enable but to implement them and prove them out.”

Alicia: “Many ways — watching and learning from others, reading, making initial mistakes and trying to correct them, and above all, listening to the people around me and what they need. Having a flexible leadership style helps ensure that your people get what they need out of you.”

(L to R): Nicole Cornelson, Qingqing Ouyang

Qingqing: “First, I learn from great leaders. I am extremely fortunate to have worked for some great leaders all through my career. They taught me everything I know today. By watching them in action, listening to them describe why they did what they did, and asking them for advice, I benefited from all of their great wisdom and generous help.

“Second, I read. Books are great at broadening my perspective. They also provides the vocabularies that describe intangible skills, such as leadership, that I struggle to articulate sometimes. I am on my 16th book now for the year, closing in on my goal of finishing 20 books by year-end.

“Third, I practice. I believe leadership skills can be learned. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to learn next. Once I commit, I look for opportunities to practice those skills. Asking for feedback after every practice is a great way to improve more purposefully.”

Nicole: “I have had various leadership roles in my career. The ability to communicate with people effectively and make decisions on what to do next are key components to any leadership role. To learn more about how to do this, I read leadership books, and my two most recommended are Daniel Pink’s Drive and James A. Autry’s The Servant Leader. As a voracious reader, it’s important to expand my thinking on leadership styles, human motivation, and educate myself on common fears and concerns of people.”

Valerie: “I’m still building my skills! I have learned a lot from other leaders — observing both positive and negative traits that I have chosen either to work hard to emulate or vow to avoid. I consume information both broadly and widely: articles, books, TED talks, local meetups, larger professional networks — you name it. I don’t always agree with everything I take in, but I value a continuous stream of insight with which to challenge myself and my thinking.

“Stretch projects have done a lot for me as well through the years. I know that if I get a bit anxious about a new opportunity — be it a single meeting or a new role — that it means that experience is likely going to be positive for my growth.

“I’m fairly introverted, but my roles have required a fair amount of public speaking. To help manage this innate challenge, I can’t count the number of classes I have taken to gain comfort, if not mastery, in this area.”

Jenn: “I have learned a lot by watching and talking to other leaders. However, the most memorable lessons I have learned came from making mistakes. When that happens, it is essential to take a moment to honestly evaluate what I can do better, and commit to not make the same mistake again. I often say, ‘You’ve only made a mistake if you’ve learned nothing from it.’”

What advice do you have for young women looking to advance their careers and take on leadership roles?

Andrea: “If you see an opportunity for improvement, seize it. Never be afraid to ask for help and a second opinion. Take credit for your accomplishments while elevating others.”

(L to R): Alicia Dixon, Jenn Bacon

Alicia: “Take risks: Take every opportunity to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Make mistakes.

“Travel: Learn by experiencing new things, and expand the way you think about everyday things by experiencing them in a new place.

“Mentor: Find a mentor and be a mentor. You learn different but equally important things on each side of the table.

“Network: Meet people and learn from them. Ask questions about what they do and how they do it.”

Qingqing: “My advice is the same to both young women and young men who are looking to advance their careers and take on leadership roles: To advance your career, always chase after the responsibilities and never the money or title. The more responsibilities you have, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you are at what you do. The better you are, the further and faster you go in your career. Responsibilities pay way more dividends than title.

“Leadership is about owning your responsibilities. No excuses. It’s again not about money or positional power. It’s all about doing everything that needs to get done, whether it is in your job description or not. As a matter of fact, it is the extra effort that makes someone a leader.”

Nicole: “Try new things, observe, listen and most of all — share. You never know what professional or personal experience might speak to someone else. Failure is a way to learn, take reasonable risks, and try something that makes you feel out of your comfort zone. Be personally responsible for your work and your career.”

Valerie: “Like many women, I have fought against the so-called ‘Imposter Syndrome’ for much of my career, both academic and professional. Recognizing these distorted thoughts is the first step in the battle.

“It’s common for women not to seek new challenges or roles until they feel they meet 100% (or more!) of the criteria, as opposed to recognizing that most roles require some on-the-job development. Qualifications certainly matter, but with a self-limiting mindset, it’s more common to pass up potential opportunities.”

Jenn: “1. Know your strengths and your weaknesses.

2. Surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses.

3. Surround yourself with smart individuals.

4. Be able to say ‘I don’t know’ and ‘Will you help me?’

5. After you receive help, remember what you were taught — knowledge is a gift and people hate wasting their time!”

Learn more from our team — follow us Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram!

Women in Tech: Roundtable with Our Leaders was originally published in Main Street Hub on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Main Street Hub

Main Street Hub & Homebase Present: What Not To Say 0

Tips to help you protect your business & online brand

In a world where everything your business says online can be saved forever, it’s important to make sure you’re saying the right things.

Whether you’re responding to reviews, promoting your business, or highlighting your employees, make sure you know what to and what not to say online!

Our Local Outreach Manager Emma Vaughn partnered with Homebase’s People Operations Director Carol Wood to give you the dos and don’ts for what to say online.


Want some extra online dos and don’ts for your small business? Check out Emma discussing her favorite tips on our Facebook page:

Don’t miss any of our upcoming events! Follow us on on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn!

Main Street Hub & Homebase Present: What Not To Say was originally published in Main Street Hub on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Main Street Hub

Here’s How Adidas Should Handle Its PR Crisis 0

By Laura Jaffee, Director of Business Development at Status Labs

By now, you’ve heard that US prosecutors charged 10 people, including Adidas’ director of global sports marketing, James Gatto, with bribery, wire fraud, and conspiracy in connection with college recruiting. Allegedly, Gatto used hundreds of thousands of Adidas money to bribe elite high school athletes into attending Adidas-affiliated colleges.

The investigation is ongoing and is likely only the tip of a destructive iceberg for Adidas, the N.C.A.A., and other athletic brands like Nike and Under Armour, who could be next in line for a federal investigation.

Although the government didn’t name Adidas directly, the brand’s share price dropped 2.5% immediately after the scandal was made public, and may continue to fall as more details unfold.

In addition to unhappy shareholders, Adidas’ employees are likely confused and frustrated by the scandal and the subsequent negative press coverage, and company morale is low. Not to mention the emotional trauma felt by the student athletes and their families who were manipulated by their coaches, and the millions of Adidas customers who may question their own brand loyalty, and start buying from competitors instead.

Adidas’ immediate and long term crisis strategy will determine if the brand sinks or swims moving forward.

Starting immediately, in addition to cooperating with authorities, the Adidas’ executive team should be as transparent and honest as possible with its employees, customers, and the media.

Rote “corporate-speak” statements tend to backfire and can lead to an even bigger PR crisis when the public is left unsatisfied. Adidas can get ahead of a potential apology circuit by being genuine and human in its communication both internally and externally.

From a digital perspective, negative press coverage will be ongoing as the investigation continues, burying any positive content that appeared in Adidas’ search results before the scandal broke. Left unchecked, these negative stories will permanently populate the first page of Adidas’ Google search results, where over 95% of people go to learn about the brand.

Studies show that businesses risk losing as many as 22% of customers when just one negative article is found by users considering buying their product. Given that Adidas is a multi-billion dollar company, this damaging crisis could cost the brand billions in lost revenue.

If they aren’t already, Adidas executives should consider working with an experienced PR crisis manager, a digital reputation management firm, as well as competent legal counsel to balance the conversation happening around the brand. Maintaining a positive reputation will be vital to Adidas’ long term success.

If Adidas prioritizes these things, it should be back to “running” the world in no time.


Status Labs is the premier digital reputation management firm, with offices in Austin, New York, Los Angeles, London and São Paulo. For more information visit or sign up for a Free Consultation.

Source: Status Labs

#33 – Black hat online reputation management tactics you should avoid 0

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There’s the right way to do online reputation management and then there are these black hat tactics that you should never employ.

Each week, Erin Jones and I take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:

  • We share more than a dozen black hat tactics that you should never use–or let an ORM firm use–to rebuild your online reputation.

If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.

Transcript (forgive us for any typos):

Andy Beal:                  Thank you for joining us. We’re going to do something a little bit different this week. Erin and I have both had kind of a circumstances, situations where we’ve been exposed to the black hat side of reputation management. Now neither of us condone that kind of thing. We don’t use any black hat techniques, but you don’t necessarily know what’s black hat, i.e, stuff that you shouldn’t do, and what is often called white hat, which is the good stuff that you should focus on. So, there’s been some stories about that. Erin, you had a particular run in as well that kind of made you go, “Is there kind of a stigma that we need to correct about what good reputation management people do?”

Erin Jones:                  I did. It was really interesting to me, because I’ve been very fortunate to be on the positive side of ORM, working with positive techniques and staying above board. A few weeks ago at a networking event that I was at, a local designer/social media/SEO person wearing a lot of hats, implied to the group that because I do ORM work that I participate in black hat techniques, that was one of the first times I’ve actually heard of an ORM professional being accused of doing black hat work. Typically, I heard about company owners trying to get the jump on things and trying something and making a terrible choice.

To have it being done intentionally, it offended and it also kind of hurt my feelings because I work really hard to try to make sure that I keep my clients above board. I don’t take on clients who won’t be above board, so that really shocked me.

Andy Beal:                  Whenever you get somebody that has multiple slashes in their title, they generally don’t know a whole lot. Because they don’t know a lot about a particular subject, they’ll often just throw out this kind of, “Hey, you must be using black hat voodoo techniques.” We used to see it a lot in the search engine optimization space. So, SEOs would always get accused of doing black hat by webmasters. Really, when you looked at it, it’s just that webmasters didn’t know the great techniques to use. So, they just thought it was all magic, all voodoo, and it must be negative. We’ve seen over the years that there’s been an education where, “Hey, not all SEO is bad. There’s a lot of great SEOs out there doing a lot of good work.”

The same goes for reputation management. People have this perception that if you’re trying to push something negative down off of Google or trying to improve someone’s reputation, you got to be doing something that is at worst illegal or at best somewhat shady. So, what we thought we would do is we’re going to put our white hats firmly on our heads and go through a list. We got 10 or 12 different tactics that we think you should never do and hopefully this would be something that if you start your own reputation management campaign, you’ll have these list of things … hey, I should avoid this.

Or if you hire a firm, then you’ll have a list as well to kind of check off and make sure this firm’s not going to do any of these tactics. So, let’s kick it off. Number one: I’ve got creating fake or spammy-looking social media accounts. So, trying to create an account where just for the sake of having another Facebook page that shows up in your search results or you create a second Twitter account just for the purpose of trying to get it to show up in Google and you think, “Hey, if one my Twitter accounts is showing up in Google, then if I have two that’s even better.” So, creating fake, spammy content, Erin, is what I’ve got for number one.

Erin Jones:                  On top of that, I want to know who has time to create multiple social media accounts, because managing mine and managing them well for myself and my clients I feel like is a full-time-and-then-some job. So, if you’re creating multiple social media accounts and using them to comment on other pages, you need to find a hobby because you have too much time on your hands.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. People are smart. When they see that Facebook commenter coming to your page, giving you a five star review and just saying, “How wonderful you are,” but then they go and look, and that person’s only two friends, is somewhat ambiguous about where they were, who they’re related to. People are smart. They figure out that, hey, that’s probably not somebody that’s real. It’s probably a fake account. Number two-

Erin Jones:                  [crosstalk 00:05:17].

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. Along similar lines, creating like these empty websites. These thin sites or thin blogs. It’s a good strategy to maybe create a second website or use a subdomain, but I always say, “It’s got to pass the Google sniff test.” If a human at Google were to do a manual review, is there a legitimate reason for you to have a separate site for your blog or a subdomain, whatever it may be. Now, if you’re a publicly traded company and you’ve got investor relation information, sure, you don’t want that on your ecommerce shopping site. So, you have a good reason to build

If you’re just registering lots of domain names and putting up one or two pages hoping they’re going to rank, it’s just not going to work too well. Is it, Erin?

Erin Jones:                  It’s not going to work and it’s also you’re diluting your content. You’re diluting your message. So, some people do this unintentionally and you kind of want to think about where is your value going to be. Your customers or your investors don’t want to be clicking from website to website. So, give them what they want. If it makes sense, put it in one place. If it doesn’t, put it in two. I really thinking through what you’re doing can avoid an inadvertent version of this happening.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, good point. All right. Number three. Erin, what do you have for that?

Erin Jones:                  Number three: Bait and switch, also known as page swapping. So, some shady people will get a website indexed and ranking and then they’ll change the content on the page. It’s one thing to update our content. It is a completely different thing to start ranking for something and then completely change the industry. So, when a user clicks on a result in the search engines and they ended up looking at something that they have no idea how they got there.

Andy Beal:                  And using misleading title tags or H1 headers to try and trick the user into clicking through, or even along those lines, buying PPC ads that are bait-and-switch as well. So, think they’re going to a site that’s going to be critical of a brand, but then it turns into something really positive, because the brand itself has purchased it. It’s okay to buy PPC ads to promote your positive size, but just avoid making it look like you’re another attacker and then switching over to something positive.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. If I get to your website and the first paragraph looks like gibberish, I can see that you’re doing that for your benefit and not for my benefit as the reader so I’m going to move on to someone who’s looking to get a reader’s attention.

Andy Beal:                  Good point. Number four is along similar lines of what we were talking about, but creating fake review profiles. So, you’ve got one-star Yelp reviews or you got one-star Amazon review profile and you think to yourself, “Well, why don’t I just create 10 different accounts and then post positive reviews?” Then you think you’re really clever. You’re thinking you’re outsmarting Yelp, and Google, and Amazon, because you’re going to use different IP addresses and you’re going to space them out over a period of time and you think you’re really clever. Trust me. These sites. Whether it’s Yelp, Amazon, whoever it is. They have seen it all.

It is very difficult to create a brand new Yelp profile and actually get your reviews to be trust. Yelp is going to sit around and wait to see what kind of friends you add, the places you check in at. All these points, these triggers to say, “Is this reviewer trusted?” Even if you do make it past that, the worst thing that could possibly happen is someone figures this all out and then busts you for astroturfing, which is, basically, hey, instead of creating real green grass, you’re just using fake stuff to try and make the grass look greener.

Erin Jones:                  Yes. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.

Andy Beal:                  It’s really not. Whatever you’re trying to cover up will be worse if you get found out that you’re trying to cover it up by having fake review profiles. All right. Moving on, number five. Erin, what do you have for number five?

Erin Jones:                  Number five is duplicate content. Sometimes people will see a website that ranks really well, and say, “Well, they’re doing it right so I’m going to copy what they’re doing.” They copy it verbatim. Don’t do it. Whether it’s your own content that you’re copying over to get a new website to rank or someone else’s, it’s just not a good idea. Write your own content with your voice. Make it fresh. Make it relevant. Then if you are going to pull content from another site, quote it, and site your sources.

Andy Beal:                  That’s a good suggestion. Then, along those lines, don’t duplicate your own content. So, you’ve got this great About Us profile that you’ve got on your website and then you decide, “Hey, I’m just going to cut and paste this and put it on everything else I own, because hey, this is our information. This is about us.” Well, think about it. You’re taking the exact same content and putting it into your Facebook profile or your LinkedIn page or whatever it is that you’re building and it’s technically duplicate content. Now, I’m a big fan of congruence across your different channels.

So, that does mean you want to have the same tone of voice. You want the similar kind of facts and figures and the highlights, but don’t just do cut and paste. Consider putting in the effort to actually write new, unique bios and About Us information for each of these profiles or websites.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. I try to usually think of it as who I’m talking to when I’m writing the content. Maybe your main website is in a really professional tone and a really professional voice and then you have a voice that’s for current clients or members or shareholders. You can use a little bit more of a conversational voice, because they already know you. So, you’re using the same … like you said … the same content, but your tone is going to change a little based on how well you know the audience.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, that’s fantastic. You’re absolutely right. Pick the voice that matches the media and you’ll be good to go. Number six, we’re going to look at low-quality link building. In particular, just trying to throw out a whole lot of just bad-looking links. Whether or not that’s leaving comments somewhere or just kind of going to a link farm. Erin, you had some ideas on this.

Erin Jones:                  Yeah. There’s a lot of places where you’ll see people, especially back in the olden days of SEO where you see a chiropractic office linking on a travel website because they set up a little director and let anyone sign up. Google’s not going to give you credit for that and neither am I. Clearly, you put that on there on purpose to get some link backs. I think we all did a little bit of that when we thought that it was working, but now it’s frowned upon, it looks bad, and it looks dishonest. Anything that looks dishonest is not going to gain you points either with your readers or with the search engines.

Andy Beal:                  You are much better off thinking to yourself, “What can I create that’s actually going to get people wanting to link to my content?” Focus in your efforts on that then trying to do anything low quality with link builder. Erin, you had something for number seven?

Erin Jones:                  Yes, domain squatting. I know some people have made a whole lot of money and have made full-time jobs off of this, but people will register domains either with a business name or a trademarked word in the title in hopes of selling it back to the brand that owns that word. That’s not cool. It doesn’t look good. If you try to put content on that site, they’re probably going to win it back. When it goes to court, it’s going to show that you did intentionally take this name and they’re going to move on.

Andy Beal:                  Along those lines, certainly go ahead and register domain names for your own brand, but don’t go overboard. Don’t worry about registering You can’t think ahead of all the iterations that an attacker is going to use to try to get at you, but certainly get the .org, .net, that kind of thing. Number eight. Now, this one is kind of linking. This is getting paid links or sponsored blog posts, something of that nature. I have no problem with you reaching out to a blogger and offering whether that’s flat-out sponsorship or a contest, so you’re going to give them a prize, or you’re going to give them a free product to try.

However, you’ve got to disclose that. That has to be disclosed by the blogger. This would be a technique that you would do before you have a crisis. So, you would want to use this before you’re being attacked, otherwise what could potentially happen is one of two things. If you don’t disclose it and you get found out, hey, there’s another negative thing that someone’s going to attack you. If you do disclose it but you’re soliciting them and getting them posted while you’re in the middle of a attack, your detractor might turn around and say, “Hey, look. They’re trying to cover things up by paying their way out of it.”

Erin Jones:                  Right. It looks like a big PR campaign instead of a positive way to get your name out there. One thing I’ve noticed with a lot of these is that my tendency to look on the bright side is a lot of these things can be done accidentally, or an agency can do them saying they’re doing something on your behalf and then you find out later that it’s making your brand look bad. So, if you’re working with a consultant, please just make sure that they have your best interest in mind and not just your biggest promotion.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, that’s a good point, because the consultant should never act on their own behalf. You should always know what your ORM is doing for you, because Erin and I, even if we’re doing a specific tactic for a client, we want to run it by the client and get the client’s buy-in, because this needs to be owned by the client. They need to know about it. They need to take ownership of it. We’re just facilitating it. We’re just an extension of their firm, their company. You don’t ever want to have a situation where you’ve got an agency that’s doing tactics, doing outreach, doing promotions on your behalf, and you have no clue what they’re doing.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. Especially if you’re a company that is strong on your corporate culture, you want to make sure that what they’re doing is in line with your beliefs and what you would do on your own naturally.

Andy Beal:                  Number nine: Submitting fake court orders. This is something we’re seeing more and more of. The history behind this, if you had a clear case of defamation, you could go to a court and if you proved it, you could get a court order that you could submit to Google and Google would pretty much automatically take down any offending URL that was part of this defamation win. Now, the black hats, the bad people kind of got wise to this and now we’re seeing all kinds of fake plaintiffs, fake defendants. Now, just this past week, fake court orders. There was a guy, a CEO of a company that spent $30,000 to win a court case and he won only because the defendant didn’t show.

So, it’s by default whether or not he had a legit case or not, it doesn’t matter. The defendant didn’t show. He got this court order by default. However, it cost him $30,000, which is about on track. 20, $30,000 for something like this. He was upset that it costs so much. He had some other URLs that he wanted to get listed. So, instead of hiring the attorney to do it the right way, he actually decided to turn to Photoshop and created fake court orders and submitted them to Google. Now, he just pled guilty to a federal indictment.

Erin Jones:                  What blows me away the most about this is not only that he did it. I mean, that is just incomprehensible to me, to think that someone could be that dishonest, but then he went and bragged about it.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, that’s right.

Erin Jones:                  How much money he saved … No. I can’t believe … that’s like going out and pictures on Facebook of you robbing a bank. I know it happens, but what are these people thinking?

Andy Beal:                  I have no idea. Then along those lines number 10 is, I’m starting to see people trying to use the DCMA takedown request. The DMCA is designed to help individuals in businesses get their copyrighted content removed from a website or the search results. So, it’s really, if someone’s stolen your video that you created or that has writs … some of the text from your book, or as Erin mentioned earlier, completely copied all of your content from your website, pretending to be you. So, it’s designed to protect for a copyright theft. However, you’re seeing people trying to say, “Well, they’ll create a webpage. They’ll backdate it. Put the same content on it and then claim that the newspaper that wrote the negative story actually stole part of it from their content,” and then try and get a DMCA takedown.

So, that’s really shady. I can’t believe … and whether they get away with it or not, they shouldn’t, but don’t try and say, “Hey, this blogger is attacking me, but he’s using my company name. My company name is copyrighted. He can’t do that. No, that’s not a legit use for a DMCA takedown.”

Erin Jones:                  I feel like I say this a lot, but clever negative use of black hat … I even hate to say, “Clever,” but this is why we can’t have nice things you guys.

Andy Beal:                  That’s right.

Erin Jones:                  Stop abusing the system.

Andy Beal:                  All right. Number 11 is another kind of legal thing that I’ve seen. That is just basically trying to put pressure on a blogger or a journalist with empty legal threats. So, you see a lot … there’s been a lot of firms. Usually, they’re really large reputation management firms that like to use a tactic of just basically sending a threatening-looking letter that looks like it’s come from an attorney that there’s going to be all kinds of consequences if they don’t remove the negative review from a person’s website or they don’t takedown their Yelp review. They’re all unsubstantiated. There’s nothing behind them, but it can work if you get a nervous blogger that has no idea about the law.

It can also backfire because if you actually get a blogger that knows a little something, they’re going to actually end up doing a new post to say, you’re trying to bully them.

Erin Jones:                  Right. When people start realizing that these court cases do cost 20 or $30,000, some people may back down, but some people may call your bluff and then you’re going to find yourself in court.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. This is different from where you know you’ve got a clearcut defamation case and you want to take the soft approach first to say, “Hey, look, buddy. You’ve posted this information based on a third-party source. It’s actually incorrect. I’ve got evidence here that suggests that. By you keeping this up. It is hurting my business and defaming my name. I’d love for us to get this resolved so I don’t have to speak to attorney.” Something along those lines is fine. Proceed with caution, but generally fine, but out and out just trying to bully someone, absolutely black hat. We don’t recommend that.

All right, lastly, number 12 is, distributed denial of service attacks on negative content. Now this is getting really hardcore black hat. This is where you understand that if the website loads slowly or is often down during the day, then Google might say, “Hey, I can’t trust this site to be around if I show it in the search results.” So, they start dropping off the first page in Google. So, what’s a really nefarious black hat reputation people will do is they actually will create these botnets to try and attack the webpage and the website to stop it from loading to overloaded server and do it on a regular enough basis so that Google that exact stance and stop showing it in the search rolls. I mean, how shady is that, Erin?

Erin Jones:                  It’s beyond shady. I think it kind of crosses line into hacking a little bit.

Andy Beal:                  Absolutely. It’s illegal.

Erin Jones:                  I’ve heard stories about different uses for DDoS attacks because my husband is a network engineer. They’re never good. It’s terrifying to me, too, how … usually the smaller the business, the easier they are to attack or takedown. A lot of my heart is with helping small businesses. It’s just awful. Getting it to stop or finding out who’s doing it is not always easy, especially not with a huge amount of resources.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, absolutely. Well, we hope you found these useful. These are 12 tactics that we definitely don’t recommend. These are some things that if you’re going to implement a campaign yourself, you can keep in the back of your mind. If you’re going to hire somebody, then you’ll know the questions to ask so that you’d make sure they’re not doing these kinds of things. Incidentally, a lot of these items came from some training I did this week. If you’re not familiar, if you go to, I’m setting up a limited number of mentoring spots for people that want to learn reputation management, whether it’s to start a firm or to add to an agency service, whatever it may be.

So, certainly, we talked about the black hat tactics to avoid. Do you like how I snuck a little plug in there, Erin?

Erin Jones:                  It was fantastic, but did you see how above board and honest it was?

Andy Beal:                  It was. I didn’t have to shoehorn it in. You can go to Erin’s new brand, which is I’ve updated a link in the podcast page, because Erin has just gone through a rebranding. So,, if you want to speak to Erin about anything. I think that’s the only blatant plug we’ve done in 33 shows. So, hopefully, you’ll forgive us for that. Erin, always a pleasure to chat with you.

Erin Jones:                  Thank you. I love bring here.

Andy Beal:                  Thank you guys for tuning in. We’ll hope you catch us again next time. Thanks a lot and bye-bye.

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