Tag Archives: reputation

Believe It Or Not

We’re busy prepping Rancho Deluxe for sale and so we’re in need of some outside services to perform tasks such as washing the roof (damn lichen). In our digital age, I’m doing what any person would do: checking the web for reviews as well as for potential service people. The problem is not finding information. The issue is knowing which information to trust. I suspect this is an issue for you and for your business as well.

There are review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List. Yelp, in particular, has a reputation, justified or not, of having issues. Fake reviews are allegedly rampant and the company has been accused of elevating negative reviews to higher positions in the results if the company doesn’t pay to advertise on Yelp. As an aside, a court found that even if they were doing that, it wouldn’t be illegal, but it sure makes one question the validity of what you learn. Angie’s List has had similar problems, saying that they’re consumer driven when 70% of their revenue comes from advertising. That makes them less than disinterested information brokers in my book.

Do people really use reviews? A new study by Trustpilot suggests that 88 percent of consumers say that reviews help when deciding what to buy and where to buy it. The study also found, however, that only 18 percent say they think online reviews are actually valid, so do consumers believe them or not? As a business owner, can you believe what you’re reading or not before you think about taking action?

I don’t think there is a simple answer. Most fake reviews are fairly easy to identify. You look at how many other reviews have been written by the author, you check if there are multiple reviews with similar verbiage, etc. I’m a fan of Amazon’s identifier of reviewers who actually purchased the product via Amazon, and some sites let you see if the person has actually checked in. That’s more of a clue for negative reviews in my book. Yelp and other sites are probably more of a help as a consumer than they are as places to conduct business based on some of the alleged shady business practices. Check multiple sites and social media, gather a lot of information and form an opinion based on the preponderance of the evidence (can you tell I hang out with lawyers?).

Actually, that last sentence is probably good advice for anything we do in business, wouldn’t you say?

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

Fake Traffic

You probably have read about fake Twitter followers.  Most people have some (1% of mine are), famous people have lots (Justin Bieber has 14%).  You can check out the fake or inactive counts at Status People.  Obviously I haven’t gone out to acquire fake followers but like every part of the interwebs, Twitter has its share of  spammers and other flavors of cretin and they leach on to legitimate folks all the time.

That’s very different from folks who create fake accounts to add to their follower totals and very far removed from folks who go out and buy followers.  I suppose that the quantity of an audience is important to some people who market themselves based on their Twitter base or Klout score.  It’s been interesting as I pitch new business to have potential clients ask about that and how their minds change a bit after they understand how the system can be gamed.  Caveat Emptor if you’re hiring based on that and not on business acumen – it’s much harder to buy!

One way a system is gamed that I find really disturbing is the sale of web traffic.  No, I don’t mean impressions being sold to advertisers as ad space but the sale of bulk traffic to websites looking to increase their numbers.  There are a number of firms – I’m not going to plug them here – who will generate visits to your website for a fee.  Need 100,000 visits quickly?  $250 will get them for you.  Obviously for sites that sell based on rate bases or on impression guarantees, this is a form of fraud.

How do they do this?  Some companies use bots – automated scripts.  Others pay people to do nothing but click on the list of pages they’re given.  Still others push pop-unders which display the purchasing site when a user hits some other site the vendor controls.  Others use redirects from abandoned domains.  Pretty questionable stuff.

I’m told that some rather prominent sites use these firms near the end of a month when their traffic is kind of light.  I sure hope not.  This is exactly the kind of thing that will set back digital advertising 10 years just as it’s getting a fair amount of traction.  I can’t imagine what these folks are thinking.  Like the lightweight consultants who buy followers and game the reputation system, once this found out, those same systems will be used to spread the word about their duplicity.  Skeevy, right?

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Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud

Pay Attention!

The title of this post is about the simplest advice I can give my clients. It’s SOOO easy to listen if that’s what you choose to do. Fabulous tools like Tweetdeck, the amalgamation of Google Reader and Alerts, and dozens of others are available to help you monitor your brand (and personal) reputation.  I’m always amazed at how many negative articles, blog posts, tweets, etc. aren’t accompanied by a subsequent comment from someone who is being criticized.  It may not change anyone’s opinion but at least your side of the story is out and you’ve turned a rant into a conversation.  Bravo for you!

There is no excuse to let other people dictate how you’re perceived. You and your company should be actively managing your reputations. The first step is to listen. The second is to act on what your hear.

That said, it’s time for me and you to listen to our families. Have a great holiday!

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Helpful Hints