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There’s a growing interest in online reputation management. Over at Wildfire Marketing, I answered some reputation management questions for their Thought Leader Thursday series.
Here’s a taster…

What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen people make when it comes to responding to a reputation management crisis, a
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nd how someone salvage the situation if they’ve already made one of these mistakes?
The biggest mistake is simply not having official channels in place to allow your customers to complain. Most disgruntled customers post to blogs and Twitter because they feel like they are not being heard by your company. They get frustrated with your lack of customer service and they think to themselves, “I’ll show them, I’ll post a negative review on Yelp/Twitter/Blog.” If companies would simply look at how they’re listening to their customers, and how they escalate and resolve customer service complaints, many of the reputation problems you see would never make it to the web.
Perhaps the second biggest mistake is not apologizing soon enough. We tend to get too defensive, when we screw-up. We want to try and resolve the problem without accepting blame and without putting our hands in our pockets. When your business faces a legitimate complaint, move quickly to resolve it. Don’t think about the few dollars in refund demanded by the customer, instead think about the thousands of dollars in lost revenue, if the customer creates a reputation headache for your business!

Head on over there for the full interview.

A disgruntled U.S. military soldier shot and killed 11 people and wounded another 31 during a rampage at Fort Hood today.
There years ago, Google and MySpace signed a search deal. Google agreed to provide web, vertical and internal search and contextual ad sales for MySpace and other Fox Interactive Media properties and pay them $900M (guaranteed as long as Fox met its traffic requirements) in shared advertising revenue over the lifetime of the deal. But it looks like this
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year, the last of the deal, Google has fallen short.
But, says MySpace execs and owner Rupert Murdoch, that’s because Fox has failed to meet its traffic requirements. Meaning traffic is down on MySpace, just a few short years after they fell into the “Trough of Disillusionment” in the hype cycle (translation: the MSM turned on them).
And just how much are they falling off? Rupert Murdoch’s initial assessment on the recent earnings call was that they wouldn’t see any income from Google this year—a $300M shortfall. But the other execs on the line disagreed, saying that they’d probably fall short by $90-$100M.
And because MySpace/FIM (now Digital Media Group, but whatever) didn’t meet their “very high guarantees,” as Murdoch put it, it’s their own fault. Interestingly, at first the deal “calmed some analyst and investor nerves, and allowed News Corp. to claim MySpace was paid for and then some,” says paidContent. News Corp bought MySpcae for $580M in July 2005, and they have seen at least that much in revenue from the Google deal.
What do you think? Was this deal not the good idea it seemed three years ago? Or was this an unforeseeable circumstance?

Data portability is just all the rage these days. Google, Facebook, MySpace, OpenID, et al. have spent years creating services where you can use a single login and password to access email, network or make comments.
Now Google’s taking it one step further with something called “hybrid onboarding.” When you receive an email invitation i
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n a Gmail account to join another service, including Plaxo, Facebook and more, instead of being prompted to create yet another username and password, you’re given the option to sign in with your Google account:

On the surface, this seems like it might be less secure—after all, isn’t Google sharing your Gmail username and password in this sign up? Not so, Google says:

At the same time, the hybrid onboarding model improves authentication security because websites like Plaxo that use this technique never see a password from you at all. Since you don’t have to enter your password on additional sites, your password remains closer to you and is less likely to be misused.

However, there is the problem that if your one account gets hacked, the hackers will have access to your other accounts (though this is often the case, since most people use the same password for a lot of their accounts).
Google is also taking this capability to your doorstep: The Google Code Blog also gives details on how any site can add this authentication protocol.
What do you think? Is this a step forward for password and online security? What sites do you want to see participating?

I tried really hard to figure out how to “fluff-up” this announcement. After all, Microsoft went to the trouble to pre-brief me, but I just can’t say it any better than I can show it.
So here goes.
MSN is going from this:

To this:
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Yes, one of the most popular destinations on the web–600 million monthly users no less–is getting a face-lift. Here are some of the key things to note:

  1. There’s a new MSN logo to go with the redesign.

  2. There are 50% fewer links on the page.

  3. The Bing search box is better integrated, because MSN already drives 45% of searches to Bing–something this design will take further advantage of.

  4. You can view and update Twitter and Facebook.

  5. There’s more focus on Local–there’s even a new MSN Local Edition.

  6. As you use the site, MSN will learn your content preferences and customize accordingly.

The new page design will start rolling out today, but most of you won’t see it as the default until early next year. If you’re anxious to use the new design now, you can head to
That’s all!

Imagine just a few short years ago what a headline like this may draw out from the newspaper industry and newspaper readers alike. The shock of such a claim would be the first reaction followed by the naysayers that would predict the rapid decline and fall of the newspaper company silly enough to make such a move.
Welcome to 2009. The newspaper industry is a shambles and no one is able to cover up the fact anymore. Online delivery o
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f news and media of all sorts has changed the way consumers obtain and ingest the news. As a result the delivery is changing. In a way, it’s like a huge media train wreck that has people doing and saying things never imagined before. Are you shocked, though? Desperate times call for desperate measures and it looks like the Tribune Co. newspapers are ready to at least experiment with an idea that was unfathomable until recently. No AP news wire service for the week of Nov. 8.
The Chicago Tribune and other Tribune Co. newspapers plan to utilize as little content from the Associated Press as practical during the week of Nov. 8.
The goal, as the papers review costs and needs, is to see whether severing ties with the news cooperative next fall is a viable option, the Chicago-based media company confirmed Monday.
The trial is scheduled to be conducted almost 13 months after Tribune Co. gave the AP a required two-year warning that it might drop the news service, effective Oct. 15, 2010. Tribune Co. said at the time that it was keeping its options open while weighing what role, if any, the AP would play in its future.
While it’s not a complete removal of AP sources for material this is very dramatic considering how the news business has traditionally worked seemingly forever. So where are they getting their news from you ask? Is it all going to fall on the Tribune and its paired down staff? The short answer is no.
Besides the content provided by the staff of its own titles, Tribune Co. newspapers will draw from such news sources as Reuters, the Washington Post, New York Times, Agence France Presse, Cable News Network, Global Post, Bloomberg and McClatchy newspapers during its AP-less trial. Not all of those sources are normally available to Tribune Co. papers.
How does the AP feel? They’re not really letting on with statements like this one.

“The Associated Press has been working with all members of the cooperative, including Tribune Co., to ensure that the AP news report retains its value to member newspapers and their readers,” AP spokesman Paul Colford said in a statement.
If you read through the comment thread of this article you will find some pretty dissatisfied tribune readers with the current state of the paper so maybe the Tribune Co. figures it can’t get any worse. Or can it?
Pilgrim’s Partners: – Bloggers earn cash, Advertisers build buzz!

We spend all day talking to each other about the importance of social media. I agree that it is important. We also seem to yell a lot about how social media can cure many marketing ills. I am often included in that kind of talk as well. We act as if social media is right for everyone to some degree or another. I feel that way most times but I am beginning to wonder if this is not putting the cart before the horse for the SMB (small a
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nd medium business) market.
The Center for Media Research shared a report that tells an interesting tale regarding the SMB and social media.

According to a new Citibank / GfK Roper survey of 500 small business executives across the United States, 76% have not found social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be helpful in generating business leads or for expanding their business during the last year, while 86% say they have not used social networking sites to get business advice or information.
Why is that? Well, the next point tells the tale.
The survey found that general search engine sites such as Google and Yahoo! trump small business-focused sites and the as destinations for small business owners to seek business advice or information. 61% of respondents say they rely on these search engine sites.
The first reason offered for the apparent lack of social media sophistication is the lack of time. I don’t disagree but I think it may be more basic than that. I think it’s lack of trust. Most small business people are literally just starting to understand the basics of good web design and development so the social media thing is way ahead of them. Is it because they aren’t smart? No. It’s more likely that they aren’t just suckers who listen to everyone prattling on about social media and how it is the light unto their path to profits.
Many small business folks live around many small town folks. Small town folks may be using social media but they aren’t telling all of their cool friends in some urban center how they just crossed the street and are now successfully maneuvering down another block to do that again. They live where people are trying to get on with life in a difficult economic environment. As a result they are not interested in the latest and greatest social media trends. They are interested in getting what they need at the right price from someone they trust. Search engines and a good web site are more than enough to accomplish that in the vast majority of cases.
Here’s how business owners in this poll see social media

So go ahead and complain that I and the SMB just don’t get it. That’s cool. You have your opinion and it counts just as much as the next guy’s. What’s interesting though is that the battle cry of the hip or the Fortune 500 is yelled on a field far, far away from where a lot of people work, live and purchase. In fact, these aren’t battlefields at all. They are just simple places where people want some solid information they can trust and not just the referrals of ‘friends’ who wouldn’t know them if they stepped on them on their way to the next street corner.

Two months ago, Facebook responded to Canada’s inquiry into the privacy practices of the most popular social network in the world. The (somewhat surprising) result was Facebook changing the way that third-party apps could access users’ perso
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nal information and how long they retained user data.
And now those changes are going live. With the info in clear, non-legalese language in the privacy section of the site, Facebook is giving users 7 days to comment on the new policies.
The major changes include “how users can delete their profiles, how long ‘backup copies’ of personal data get stored, and how some of their new data partnerships with companies like Nielsen might impact the ads users see.”
Also this week, Facebook announced changes to apps and APIs. Perhaps most interesting of all, Facebook will also soon offer an API to make any web page into a “Fan” page. The “Open Graph” API will make it so that website visitors can become fans of any participating web page and add it to their news feed.
For developers, MediaPost reports:

Facebook will enable developers to ask for users’ primary email address within applications to facilitate direct contact. At the same time, developers will only be able to send notifications and invitations via email, a user’s Facebook Inbox or the News Feed and other activity streams.
New application and games dashboards are slated for the home page, making it easier for people to see the latest apps they have used as well as discovering new ones based on what friends are engaging in.

Meanwhile, Facebook is ending its verified app program, instead extending the standards from the program to all apps.
Developers aren’t the only ones affected by Facebook’s moves this week. Advertisers and users will be, too. Advertisers should be pleased with the privacy changes, as will bing, according to paidContent’s Tameka Kee:

Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP of communications and public policy, explained that the company wants to offer advertisers better conversion tracking; this means the company will need to share more than just the thumbs up vs. thumbs down and standard click-through stats it currently offers advertisers. While the company will anonymize any user data it shares with advertisers, the new policy informs users that they can opt-out of being cookied.
Other changes include the notification that users who set their profiles as viewable to “Everyone” will have that data crawled by the search engines—this includes their wall posts and news feeds—likely as a result of the new data-sharing deal with Microsoft’s Bing.

What do you think? Will you be commenting on the new privacy or other changes in the works? Will these help Facebook in its quest for monetization, or just help with user loyalty?

The other day I clicked a link on Twitter to a blog post everyone was talking about. I did like everyone else and read the post and then left a snarky comment. But then unlike most everyone else, I right clicked the margin and selected “view source”. Why did I do that? I am not really sure, I honestly did it without thinking. Looking at other people&
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#8217;s code has become something of a habit for me. I find myself sometimes getting more out of analyzing the blog’s HTML, than the post itself!
Anyways, on this particular site I was shocked when I saw the HTML. It was horrible. I mean it was really really bad. It looked like this site was coded by a drunk monkey in 1998! And, to be honest, it really got my angry. Angry? Yes, angry! You see this site isn’t just any site, this site happens to be the corporate web site for a very recognizable brand. This company is known for their excellence in their industry. Furthermore I know a few of the folks that work for this company, and they are all really awesome people that do good work and believe in what they do. And because of that, it mad me angry that their site is so haphazardly put together. It made me angry that a company that I believed in, wasn’t taking my profession seriously.
The folks that I know that work for this company deserve better, they deserve the best site money can buy, and trust me, this company can afford it. So I started asking myself, why? Why would a company that has earned so much respect, developed such a strong brand, and have such awesome employees, have such a horrible site?
I ask myself these types of questions a lot, because unfortunately the story above isn’t uncommon. There are many good companies with strong brands that don’t care enough to build a good web site. And, I will freely admit that I have extremely high standards when it comes to web development.
So why does this matter? Why should these companies care what a geeky code monkey thinks? They should care, because I am not alone! They should care because as leaders in their industries people look to them to set the standard. They should care because their competitors know they can do better and are prepared to prove it. But most importantly, they should care because their clients and customers expect the best in everything they do, and if they find out the truth, then they can find another company to do business with very quickly.
And no I am not naming names, but if you think this post is about your company, get in touch with me and I would be happy to give you a free site audit.

I. Am. Hilarious. Anchor Intelligence has just released its Q3 09 click fraud data—and it’s down, contrary to what Click Forensics reported for the same period. Anchor saw worldwide click fraud drop almost four percentage points from Q2, to 23.2% of all clicks in Q3.
Interestingly, Anchor found that malicious, “attempted” click fraud had fallen off in this period—dropping from 22.9% of all clicks in Q2 to only 18.6% of all
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clicks in Q3. Accidental, “innocuous” click fraud rose slightly (0.4 percentage points) to 4.6%. (Anchor measure all attempts at click fraud, not just charged clicks. The labels they use reflect the motivation behind the attempts.) They also noted some geographic shifts in click fraud:

Search Engine Watch says that Anchor also observed click fraudsters getting more creative:

Anchor Intelligence says it did observe more sophisticated click fraud schemes in the third quarter, such as browser hijacking. They also saw an increase in the threats of malicious advertisements in paid search and ads on publisher websites.

Although Anchor’s findings contradict Click Forensics’, CF finds a lower rate of click fraud on the rise (12.7% in Q2 to 14.1% in Q3).
What do you think? Is Click Forensics’ more pessimistic report right, or does Anchor Networks more accurately reflect the state of the industry?