Content Is Key to Repairing Online Reputations

How do you get rid of damaging information about yourself online—like arrests, scandals and offensive activity?

You don’t get rid of it, you add to it.

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors charged 50 parents in a bribing scheme to buy their children admission to top universities. The individuals charged—including actresses and a famous fashion designer—face fines, prison time and damaged reputations.

Unfortunately, some of the students involved had no idea that illegal activity helped them get into college. Several are now seniors facing job rejections and other fallout from the scandal because their parents are on the list of those charged.

We’ve all heard how some college grads miss out on jobs due to off-color Facebook photos or offensive Twitter rants. Employers and hiring managers often use search engines and social media searches to glean info on job applicants. Even though these students were not named in the bribery scandal, a few Google searches easily link them to their parents.

We all make mistakes and atone for them, so how do we repair our online reputations when those mistakes become permanent fixtures on the web?

A real-life example

I had a client years ago who was a successful business owner, community advocate and all-around good citizen. He had a stroke of bad luck one day when a policeman arrested him for possessing an illegal hunting rifle. He went to court, paid the fine and did community service.

Though he had a great reputation in his community, Google searches for his name led with the negative news stories.

Why did his arrest story come up first? It was the only information about him online.

When you’re creating content, you control the story

There’s no way to delete the bad stuff, so just create more good stuff.

Create truthful content that tells your story how you want to be portrayed. By creating content that highlights how you’re benefiting the community, your business or the planet, you’ll:

  1. Control your story
  2. Promote your good reputation
  3. Compete with the negative stories in search results

It’s not just spin

Using a content strategy to repair your online reputation is really no different than how anyone defends their reputation in real life. You tell your side of the story after you’re accused. Even if you admit guilt, sharing your good deeds might reduce the punishment.

My past client had done so many good works in the community, but none of them came up in searches. Why? Because neither he nor anyone else had written about them online.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, start a personal website with a blog and share those stories. If your issue is a bit more complicated, you can hire a reputation marketing consultant to create SEO-friendly content and tell your story.

Call us today at Mammoth Undertakings if you’d like some suggestions on how to get this done.

 

 

By |2019-03-28T18:12:52+00:00March 28th, 2019|Categories: Content, Social Media|Tags: , |

Netflix Doesn’t Have a Brand. Does it Matter?

On Tuesday, CNBC reported that AT&T’s new HBO chief Bob Greenblatt threw a little shade at rival Netflix.

Or, was he just stating the obvious?

“Netflix doesn’t have a brand. It’s just a place you go to get anything — it’s like Encyclopedia Britannica,” Greenblatt said. “That’s a great business model when you’re trying to reach as many people on the planet as you can.”

More than anything, Greenblatt is making a point about brand identity.

Namely, it’s the idea that when you offer everything, you’re known for nothing.

Brand Identity Basics

What is brand identity? It’s basically how a product, company or organization presents itself.

What do people think of when your product or business is mentioned? Quality, fair price, good customer service? That’s your brand identity.

So, what does Greenblatt’s statement mean for your business?

When entering a crowded marketplace—let’s say you’re opening a family therapy clinic in a community that has several—it might be a good idea to set yourself apart from the competition.

How? Start with some soul-searching. For example, does your clinic handle learning disabilities particularly well? Trauma? ADHD? Is it based on some specific type of therapy?

By narrowing your field of focus, you help separate yourself from the competition. You might think that this type of narrowing would lead to missed opportunities, but it’s just as easy to argue that becoming known for “something” rather than “everything” helps build your brand.

Netflix: Too Much of a Good Thing?

HBO is known for a particular kind of content. When HBO creates a streaming series, you know it’s going to be well-produced, smart and most likely push the boundaries of risqué content (like nudity, violence, mature themes).

HBO has sort of always been known for this.

Netflix is known for… well, everything. High-quality, low-budget, family, drama, romance, classic TV, cooking—even streaming videos of fireplaces and fish tanks.

And Greenblatt’s point is that Netflix is casting a huge net. Maybe too huge.

The good part: Customers of all ages, genders, etc. can usually find something to watch on Netflix.

The bad part: By offering “everything,” Netflix becomes known for nothing.

Customers have tons of muck to wade through on Netflix (there’s a common joke that one often spends more time looking for something to watch on Netflix than actually watching that thing they found). However, when someone is in the mood for an HBO-style show, they know exactly where to find it. Quickly.

Does It Matter?

Though HBO’s content offerings—by volume—pale in comparison to Netflix, they are winning the brand identity race. That said, is it possible to have your brand identity be basically that you are known for everything? Wal-Mart, for example, is known for “everyday low prices,” yet it’s also known for being a place where you can get everything—from beard trimmers to apples to smartphones—and Wal-Mart is doing okay.

The longer Netflix stays in business and continues to serve as a warehouse of wide-ranging streaming content, its brand identity might actually be that broad, shaggy, non-specific everything HBO rejects.

 

By |2019-03-06T18:21:57+00:00March 6th, 2019|Categories: Brand Marketing, Content|

Content, the Media and the Future of Humanity

In a sort-of Jerry Maguire move Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, told BBC Radio 4 that social media is making us dumber, pointing to the abundance of fake news and misinformation spread around Twitter and Facebook during the 2016 campaign for president. The Hill quotes him as saying:

“It is the quality of the information we consume that is reinforcing dangerous beliefs and isolating people and limiting people’s open-mindedness and respect for truth.” Williams said there is a media ecosystem that “is supported and thrives on attention.”

He blames the ad-driven media for irresponsibly promoting President Trump’s un-verified claims and statements via Tweet, which created an atmosphere of absurd reality where everyone was promoting “fake news” and blaming everyone else for it. Intellectuals called Trump supporters dumb, while Trump supporters (and negative partisans who simply did not like his opponent Hillary Clinton) built up heated resentment at being told what to believe.

Hillary Clinton also blames the media. Political journalists, she writes in her new book What Happened, “can’t bear to face their own role in helping elect Trump” by what she believes was irresponsibly promoting his Twitter statements.

Donald Trump points the finger, as well. Earlier this spring, the president at a rally blamed the media for “selectively quoting” him after the Charlottesville disaster, thereby causing additional fury among the public and extending our political and philosophical divisions.

Are both sides of the aisle blaming the messenger? Maybe. But you can’t deny that the media is driven by storytelling techniques that are designed to tap into people’s anger, fears and other acute emotions, rather than presenting a more balanced–and calming–narrative.

Do media marketers and content strategists now have a responsibility to refrain from promoting “low-quality” information?

Mr. Williams’ claim, paraphrased by The Hill, says that access to information doesn’t necessarily make people smarter. This would assume that people frequent social media sites to become smarter, which is not altogether true.

Since the media can’t suppress information based on what is perceived as “quality,” we might need to get back to good old-fashioned fact checking. Major media outlets do this from time to time (e.g. The Washington Post‘s Pinocchio Scale fact checker), but any news outlet or digital strategist should at least provide a caveat with posts that are clearly in the absurdist category.

“What you are about to read might not be true…”

“What you are about to read is a little crazy…”

“What you are about to read is actually a meme…”

Finally, for those with large audiences, we might be ready for a moral code in which we ask ourselves, “what do I hope to achieve by sharing this information?”

Selling ads and drawing attention to ourselves can’t be the answer every time.

By |2017-09-13T15:56:04+00:00September 13th, 2017|Categories: Content|Tags: , |

Beat the Ad Blockers: Spend Less on Ads, More on Content

Once you ignore something for long enough, it becomes invisible. This is what’s happening to online advertising.

With Apple’s iOS9 operating system’s installed ad blockers, most ads on any given web page — ads that businesses have paid to be there — are not visible at all to consumers. Some of these ad blockers replace the ads with something else. Others don’t replace them with anything, leaving holes or broken links on the page.

While most people have applauded these applications for blocking ads that pop up in front of articles or videos they’re trying to enjoy, we can’t forget that these ads provide the revenue to make the content available for free to that audience. Advertising will always be linked to subscription-free and low-cost subscription content platforms. It’s like death and taxes.

(What are the advantages of putting more of your ad dollars into content? Click here to jump ahead.)

Eliminating ad blockers might not make much of a difference, though, thanks to a new phenomenon called “ad blindness,” which occurs when people don’t even notice ads anymore because they’ve already ignored them for so long.

Plus, no one is clicking on these ads even when they’re unblocked. Display ads have an average click-through rate of .1%, and only 8% of all web consumers account for 85% of all ad clicks. On smartphones, 40% of all ad clicks are made by mistake. As a business, when you think about how much of your marketing budget went into that 15-second video or banner ad that’s either being ignored or blocked, it’s enough to make you a little sick.

This is why marketers are turning increasingly more to “native advertising,” which are ads that mimic the content already on the platform. An ad on a magazine site will take the form of a relevant article, while an ad on a retail site will take the form of a featured product. What’s the difference? The ad is simply conceived, developed and presented differently, but not in an effort to trick the consumer: Native advertising is basically content which is designed to be sought out, enjoyed and shared by your customers, not ignored.

According to Business Insider, native advertising spending will eclipse $8 billion this year. By 2018, it will hit $21 billion. Marketers are putting more money, effort and creativity into creating content that will inform, delight and inspire consumers, rather than presenting them merely with images and videos of models with products.

The Content Fix

What are the advantages of putting more of your advertising dollars into content? Here are a few:

  1. It beats ad blockers and ad blindness: When your “ad” is part of a site’s content offering, ad blockers won’t block it and consumers will not ignore it. Early research confirms that people look at native ads 52% more often than display ads, and they look at native ads 25% more than banners.
  2. More engagement: Someone looks at a display ad for less than a second, but they linger longer on content.
  3. More clicks for your money: Native ads get seven times higher click-through stats than display ads.
  4. It’s mobile-friendly: Content is more easily accessed on mobile devices, making it more likely to be looked at.
  5. It lasts and lasts: Ads get taken down over time, and they are almost never shared. Hosted content in the form of things like articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, slideshows, etc. can be found through search engines, shared and posted by your audience on their social channels.

This is not to say that display ads are dead or not worth your time. A good display ad campaign online can do wonders for building and reinforcing your brand awareness. Alongside it, a native advertising or content campaign can give consumers something that actually informs them about the need for your products and services rather than just showing them how great they look in photos.

Interested in learning more about how to develop and share content for your campaign? Call Mammoth at (540) 252-5122 for a chat.

By |2017-06-11T22:05:50+00:00November 25th, 2015|Categories: Brand Marketing, Content, Creative|Tags: , , , |

New Site Launch: Moo Thru Ice Cream

If you’ve driven from Washington, D.C. to Charlottesville via the James Madison Highway 29, you might have seen the big red barn in Remington, Virginia with the long lines of people out front. This is Moo Thru, a popular spot for locally made ice cream. We just finished building their new website, a one-page WordPress site that’s fully responsive, mobile-friendly, and built on a content management system (CMS) that’s easy to edit and update by the client.

Check out the new Moo Thru site and if you’re passing through Remington, stop by for some great ice cream.

By |2017-06-11T22:05:50+00:00June 12th, 2015|Categories: Clients, Content, Creative, Design|Tags: , , |

Facebook Announces Algorithm Changes

Last week, Google announced that it would be changing its search to tag mobile-friendly sites. Now Facebook has announced algorithm changes based on surveys from users who wanted to see more of their friends’ content on news feeds. Whether you’re simply a user of Facebook or internet marketer, this will be of interest.

1. You can now see multiple posts in a row from a single friend. Facebook prevented this from happening in the past (not sure why) but Facebook users who did not have a large friend network will now have access to more content.

2. Content from friends will take priority over news feeds and publisher content.

3. Content that friends have liked or commented on will be hidden further down, since users complained about this. I guess people want to see content their friends’ post but not content they comment on.

All in all, this will be a benefit to the Facebook user as opposed to the marketer on Facebook, but in the long run it will satisfy the Facebook audience and ensure its marketing platform for advertisers.

By |2017-06-11T22:05:50+00:00April 27th, 2015|Categories: Brand Marketing, Content, Social Media|Tags: , |

New Site Launch: An Upscale Salon for Dogs

Dog owners in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Middleburg, Virginia, tired of dropping their dogs off at depressing places for dog grooming now have an upscale alternative. Mammoth has just finished work on their new, fully responsive website.

Check out the Studio Grooming Salon site here.

By |2015-02-12T14:36:38+00:00February 12th, 2015|Categories: Clients, Content, Creative|Tags: , , |

How’s Your Social Marketing? Grade It!

Social media’s big advantage over traditional print media is the ability to gauge metrics, i.e. crunch the numbers and learn if all those hours spent on Twitter and Facebook are attracting customers. But this capability is in some ways a two-edged sword: Online media metrics can also point out if it’s not working.

Whether you’re a marketer or a small business owner, you might want to do an extensive audit of your website and social networking accounts to make sure your time in front of the computer is maximized.

This is easily done. Google products (like Google Analytics) allow you to access and download reports on web traffic, subscribers, keywords and other ways people are accessing your web site. You can print charts and graphs to gauge traffic, repeat customers, geo-data and more.

Even better, and slightly more fun to play around with, is HubSpot’s Marketing Grader, which works very simply: Just enter your site url and generate a report that grades your site’s accessibility, set-up, SEO and popularity, among other things. This free product also give suggestions on where improvements can be made. Of course, the most extensive reporting must be purchased, but there’s enough free material to satisfy casual users.

If that one doesn’t help you track how your social networking is helping your website, here’s a list of 25 website grader tools that should help.

[I originally wrote this post for ReachFactor, a real estate reputation marketer.]

 

By |2017-06-11T22:05:50+00:00February 5th, 2015|Categories: Brand Marketing, Content, Creative, Social Media|Tags: , |

Here’s Why People Aren’t Opening Your Emails

A lot of work goes into your email campaigns, from the brainstorming to the writing to the graphics. Sadly, many people on your mailing list won’t even see them because not enough thought went into one simple thing: your subject line.

If you haven’t signed up for Sidekick (a great email application that helps you organize and track your correspondences) I highly recommend it. This week, they are promoting research about email open rates and insight into why certain emails get opened and others don’t.

A few of the figures:

40% of emails are opened on mobile first – where the average mobile screen can only fit 4-7 words max.

33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone.

Emails with “You” in the subject line were opened 5% less than those without.

Emails with “Free” in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without.

There’s a lot of helpful data here to help you craft better subject lines. It’s important, however, to track your usage over time and pay careful attention to your metrics. Also, don’t forget your content marketing strategy, because you want people to have something to read when they open the message.

For example, email subject lines with “Alert” get opened more often, but if you use the word “Alert” excessively in your campaign the word might get worn out with your audience. The Internet can grow wearing of things quickly. For example there’s 18.7% decrease in open rates when the word “newsletter” is used in subject lines, which probably has to do with the fact that it is not only obvious but has been used too much.

On the other hand, words like “Video,” which also gets a higher open rate, can be used freely, since they describe specifically the content in the email. Also, video is a much bigger draw than text, so video will always get people clicking.

Source: Sidekick

By |2017-06-11T22:05:50+00:00January 8th, 2015|Categories: Content, Creative|Tags: , |

Miss Google Blog Search? You Don’t Have To

If you’ve ever wanted to know what bloggers think about a particular topic, you might have used the “blog search” option on Google, which conveniently sorted out the blogs from the news articles and shopping pages. Unfortunately, Google Blog Search is no more, leaving those of us who used to rely on it scratching our heads and searching for a workaround.

Why search just blogs? News articles can be a little biased:

1. Some of them don’t state an opinion at all (AP articles, etc.)

2. Some are subject to advertiser or sponsor influence (e.g., Washington Post is not likely to talk straight about owner Jeff Bezos)

3. Some go through endless rounds of editing to the point where you can’t be sure if one person actually wrote it

For this reason, some corporations and organizations might find the “straight talk” of a blog to more accurately represent what the people are thinking. The best bloggers also have demonstrated the ability to build dedicated audiences, making their words very influential.

While it’s not impossible to search blogs on Google (you can still filter blogs in your news searches under the “Search Tools” button) the results are not as extensive as the old Google Blog Search. So, what’s an internet researcher to do?

You can jimmy the system by adding Google Blog Search (tbm=blg) to the end of the URL in your browser’s address bar: http://www.google.com/search?tbm=blg.

What’s a Google application? You can find all of them here: http://webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/58550/what-does-tbm-mean-in-google-search

Source: Internet for Lawyers

Could your company use product or topic research on the web? Contact us today at info@mammothundertakings.com.