Dear Santa Rosa City Council Members,
I am a Social Media Educator & Consultant here in Santa Rosa and I’ve been watching New York City forge a path of digital resources for small business owners. They have specifically chosen to be proactive and provide a tremendous amount of opportunities for their business owning citizens: NYC Business Express, new wifi units all over the city, opening Cornell NYC Tech, new workforce veteran’s career center, and more. I think we can do a lot to support our local business owners and today they released a new program of which I want you to be aware.
New York City’s Press Release
NYC “today launched a new set of free tools to help small businesses in New York City use digital technologies and social media to grow their businesses and create jobs. The new set of resources is called the Small Business Digital Toolkit. Through a partnership with NYC Digital, the Department of Small Business Services will offer small businesses free training and resources to digitally attract customers, conduct business online and market their products or services through the use of e-commerce technology.”
Small Business Digital Toolkit Initiative (easy reading version)
NYC’s Digital Roadmap of Progress & Innovation
I understand that job creation and growth is important in all communities. I am also painfully aware of lack of funds but I know that we have a ready and willing tech community that can help grow these types of programs right here at home. I am doing what I can to ensure that those working (and not working) have the technology skill set they need in order to thrive. Please know that any effort the city can put into this kind of an initiative will only do more to help Santa Rosa succeed.
cc: Mayor Ernesto Olivares, Vice Mayor John Sawyer, Scott Bartley, Jake Ours, Marsha Vas Dupre, Gary Wysocky, Danielle O’Leary, Rachel Haot
I haven’t talked about this to many people but I’ve been writing a book on online reputation management called “What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: Take Control of Your Online Reputation”. After working in social media exclusively for 4 years now, I hear more and more that individuals and businesses that are affected by their online reputation and I decided it was time to publish on the subject.
Truthfully, I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’ve been writing fiction and poetry since I could hold a pencil. Publishing was a far flung dream until just the last year or so when self publishing became a real option for writers without a book deal. Over the winter holiday of 2011, I sat down and looked at my blog and wrote down the title and theme for everything I’d written over the last 4 years. I found the recurring messages and ended up with outlines for EIGHT books! Some of them will end up being ebooks only but I realized I had enough material to get started.
When I hosted “Risks & Reputation Management: Using Social Media to Protect Your Brand” in March 2012, I pushed this subject ahead of all the rest. This is the one that affects your bottom line, life, and livelihood. This is the one that I think is the scariest and can do the most damage. (If you missed it, never fear! I’ll be doing another seminar in this same vein tentatively scheduled for 10/10/12 in Santa Rosa.)
I am writing all that I know on the subject. The how to’s, the whats, where to go, instructions, tips and more. This is a big one and I hope you take what you need from it to protect yourself and/or your business. If you can’t do it all for yourself, I’m still here to help. Connect with me on any channel that you prefer (you can see all my sm channels on the top of every page of my website except for the home page or use the Contact page).
Social media and online use are only going to increase. My goal is to give you actionable steps to get ahead of the ball.
The book will be available as a preorder in September 2012 and will be shipped in October 2012. You will be able to purchase the book here. If you are on my mailing list, you’ll get notified when pre sale becomes available.
Web4Biz Video Series
Technology Overview Playlist (4 videos):
Trends, Using an Interactive Internet or Mobile Application, Definitions and Examples, and On Gaining Mastery.
This course will take you on a high level tour of the Internet and Mobile application landscape. What is out there? Who is using what? What are the current trends?
Mastery of technology will be discussed so you will understand just how deeply you need to dive into the items you decide to implement for your business.
See series in it’s entirety on Web4Biz.org.
Now available, a FREE video series from Web4Biz aimed at helping you improve your small business strategy. Sections like:
- Technology Overview
- How to Get Started
- New Media Marketing
- Disaster Recovery
- and more
All sections of video are in short snippets that are easy to digest (longest is 8 minutes). You will be able to view again and again, take notes, and work through a plan of action with the provided work materials. Also included: forums to communicate with other small business owners and industry experts, resource materials, and blogs.
Kerry Rego Consulting recommends this course because Kerry is the on camera trainer having delivered all the material.
This is a California Community Colleges funded course aimed at Economic Workforce Development.
You learned a lot of information when you attended “Risks & Reputation Management: Using Social Media to Protect Your Brand”. Or maybe someone you know wasn’t able to come. What are the takeaways?
Disclaimer: You will not be able to accomplish all of this in one day. I want to help manage your expectations. You will want to set aside time to accomplish these tasks on a regular basis (maybe once or twice a week) until you’ve worked your way through the list. Pace yourself. What you learn in this process about the online image of your name and your business will be worth all the effort.
• Perform a vanity search (*1)
• Respond to negative commenters in a positive and validating way (*2)
• Setup Google Alerts (*1)
• Setup Google Places (*3)
• Setup business on Directories (*3)
• Legacy Management/Process (*4)
• Assess Computer Systems security (*4)
• Create a Crisis Plan (*4)
• Setup internal Social Media Communications Policy (*4)
• Assess customer service requirements with survey (*2)
• Review website (I recommend reading it out of order to to more easily spot errors) for correct information, functionality, browser compatibility, update on a schedule to keep rankings high with Google (*4)
Blogs to show you how to do the action items:
[Image via CampaignsMD]
Go ahead, do a vanity search (otherwise known as “Google-ing”) for your name or business. Do you like what you find? So often, people say they’ve done this and have been unhappy at the information they find. It’s old, it’s personal, it’s simply wrong. Don’t waste your time trying to get those webmasters to remove your information because they: 1) won’t 2) aren’t home 3) have been closed down 4) there are simply too many 5) they all get their information from somewhere. You can be proactive with your online information (see How to Get Started in Reputation Management) and displace it with content you DO want people to see. Or you can list yourself.
Why is it important to make sure the information about yourself on the internet is correct? Yellow Pages Association and comScore found that local search for businesses, products and services grew 58% last year and reached 15.7 billion searches, more than a tenth of overall search traffic. Additionally, see this Sprout Social blog to read more about the benefits of social media on local search results.
According to Internet Reputation Management, 94% of people do research before buying and 60% of those are going to research you online. They might use a phone, they might not. If they were to call you, they most likely aren’t using a traditional phone directory. People under the age of 35 probably don’t have a landline. Did you know that if you don’t have a landline, you may not get a book delivered to your door? It’s true. 18 states have enacted an opt-in policy for delivery and only 2% choose to receive one. Check out this infographic by WhitePages to see the status of the phone book.
Here are some tools that I think you’ll find helpful. Granted, there are more here than you’ll ever really use but pick and choose the ones you want to list yourself on. Focus on the biggies towards the top of the list and the ones that have incorrect info about you and get them the right stuff:
- Google Places
- Merchant Circle
- Manta (really common search result)
- Facebook (get a business page and list your address)
- Citysearch (click register to get started)
- InsiderPages (sign up then search for your business, claim it, or create your listing)
- Localeze (search for your business, claim or add listing)
- Angie’s List
- Get Listed (an aggregate and will show you what your listings look like)
Read more blogs by Kerry Rego Consulting on Reputation Management: http://bit.ly/krcrepmng
[Image via Sustainable SPC]
We have always talked about each other, it’s human nature. The difference is now that the internet is involved, our words can last forever. Disparaging remarks can damage a hard earned reputation. It is recommended that individuals and businesses monitor their reputation to make sure that if something negative is in the public eye, it can be addressed. Positive things also surface and it’s nice to thank people for their support or discover something about you online that you simply didn’t know about.
For those that don’t want to actively participate in the online communities that abound, reputation management is the minimum level that is required in today’s digital world. You don’t need to use social networks or other tools but if you don’t know what’s being said about you, your business and reputation could be going down the toilet while you are completely unaware. (Entrepreneur.com article “How to Clean Up an Online Reputation”)
The most frequent comment I hear when it comes to managing online tools of any kind is “I don’t have the time. I’m really busy.” Guess what? No one has the time. We are all busy. Just like the gym and the dentist, you simply must make the time. We no longer use the physical phone book. What people find when they search your name online is what they believe. Carve out a half hour a week and chip away at this task. It will be well worth it in the end. Once you’ve set yourself up, check back in monthly or quarterly. Monitoring is something you can do at a very minimal level and many of the tools I list below remind you on a regular basis or are automated.
The first step is to perform a vanity search most commonly called “Google-ing yourself”. Enter your name, business name, or known as names into search engines. Make sure you do this on not just Google but Bing, Yahoo, Blekko, and any other search tool you know about. Just because Google Powered search engines have 68% market share doesn’t mean they are the only player whose search results of which you need to pay attention. Write down anything you want to follow up on, positive or negative. According to Internet Reputation Management, 85% people check only the first page of search results. I recommend not stopping there. Go as far into those search results as you can. Don’t give up until you stop seeing results associated with you. Dig like your life depends on it. It just might.
Once the vanity search is out of the way, you now have the task of monitoring any new information that pops up about you. Here’s a list of tools that will be useful for you and not all of them will apply to your needs.
- Google Alerts. This tool is free and easy to set up. It provides you emails as new search results as they happen, once per day, or once per week (your choice). You can also get them in an RSS feed. This tool is the top reputation monitoring solution at 45% usage.(Web Liquid survey). Set one up for your name, business name, maiden name, full URL of your website, Facebook page, Twitter handle, competitor’s name, industry keywords and anything else you can think up. Get creative.
- Social Mention. This tool is like Google Alerts but specifically for social media. It’s free and you can get daily alerts for brands, businesses, news stories and more.
- Brand Yourself. Free with upgrade options. BY makes it easy for you to monitor your search results and gives you action items to improve those results.
- Google Places. Local search results are tremendously important for your business. Decision engines that help people navigate the world (Yelp! Ask.com and more) link up to Google Places and get business information including location, driving directions, phone numbers, hours of operation, coupons, pictures, videos and more. Google sets this up for a lot of organizations so you may already have a GP page without even knowing about it. Make sure your locale is set up correctly. Claim your location and control that information.
- Yelp. This tool is a negative reputation all by itself. Generally considered to be a place to kvetch, it can also contain good reviews. Make sure you check out what people might be saying about you here and setup your business correctly and monitor it on a regular basis.
- Tweet Angel. Twitter is often used for complaining about a customer experience. Even if you don’t use Twitter yourself, that doesn’t mean that your customers aren’t. This service will call you when someone speaks negatively about your business and allows you to determine the response. Cost from $9.95-$29.95 per month.
- Get Listed. See how your business is listed on search engines. Here’s a list of directories.
- LinkedIn. Many people don’t understand the true power of this online tool. LinkedIn is one of the most highly trusted source of information on individuals and is the least social of all the social networking tools so it doesn’t require much of your time. LinkedIn is where business happens. Get your profile up, make sure it’s current, and have a friend read through it for you for their impression and for grammatical and spelling errors. This is your resume, references, and portfolio of work. Once you build it, you just need to check it once and awhile to make sure it’s up to date and is reflective of where you are in your career.
How to Get Started in Reputation Managementis a blog I wrote about how to dominate the search results associated with your name.
Read more blogs by Kerry Rego Consulting on Reputation Management: http://bit.ly/krcrepmng
[Image via Online Reputation Management]