It takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in something, but wouldn’t you rather get it done in 10 minutes? That’s all it’ll take for you to read this week’s interview with the CEO of Reputation Rhino, Todd William. Todd is a true master when it comes to promoting, protecting, and defending online reputations. Read on for some fantastic insight on reputation management, social media strategy, and how to handle being Red Sox fan while living in New York.
1. What exactly is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is the art and science of creating a positive first impression when someone is looking for you or your company online. Online reputation management can remove or suppress negative search results; optimize positive online content; outrank complaint and review sites; and fight libel and online defamation.
2. With more people putting more of themselves on the web, is it becoming harder for you guys to manage their reputations?
I think people are a lot more conscious about what they are doing and saying online. We might thank Anthony Weiner for exposing (pardon the pun) the danger of sharing too much. The biggest challenge I see now is not what you are saying on the web, but what others are saying about you or your company.
3. How do you go about creating reputation-enhancing content?
I have a talented team of writers with extensive public relations experience, so they understand how to write and how to portray our clients in the best possible light. For individual clients, we take the time to understand their online goals and establish our clients as experts and authorities in their line of business. For small and midsize companies, we develop interactive digital content that supports their brand marketing and messaging.
4. How concerned should a company be about its employees’ personal social media content?
I think it depends on the company. For some companies, the risk of a breach of client or patient confidentiality or potential disclosure of non-public information is greater than the potential reward of building a social community. So I understand why some lawyers, doctors and investment firms are hesitant to embrace social media. For a retail, technology or creative business, social media engagement should be part of the job description for every employee.
5. Can you list a small first step or two a company can take to improve its online reputation?
We don’t have a lot of control about what others say about us, but we have a lot of control about what we say about ourselves and our company. I strongly encourage individuals and companies to actively engage in social media, blogging and proactive public relations like press releases and charitable activities. I also see a lot of companies ignore customer complaints instead of addressing them. Issues that could have been resolved by an empowered manager or customer service representative get escalated by the customer online in a way that is public and permanent. I can’t think of a worse result for a brand or company of any size.
6. How would you help the Scottsdale, Arizona restaurant that recently got swamped by nasty comments on their Facebook page, went overboard in their responses, and had the whole story go viral? Is that a lost cause? Or maybe the kinda challenge you’d love to take on?
On the bright side, not so long ago noone ever heard of Amy’s Baking Company and now they’re the most famous restaurant in Arizona. I’d be tempted to reboot with a “We’re not as bad as you think we are” theme and embrace the controversy, but this is going to be a tough fix.
7. Are there particular types of businesses that tend to need Reputation Rhino’s help more often than others?
I seem to spend a lot of time with doctors, lawyers and business owners. I also work with a lot of small and midsize businesses that can’t afford a traditional PR firm.
8. I see you offer a service that lets companies see what is being said online about them in real time. How does that work?
Rhino360 is a free online and social media monitoring tool we created to make it easier for people to see what’s being said about them online. There are some excellent paid services out there that offer a lot for larger brands and agencies, but we wanted to make something simple for everyone.
8. Have you guys done any work with Joan Jett? Because when we last checked, she didn’t give a damn about her bad reputation.
We haven’t done any work for Joan Jett, but rock stars and Hollywood celebrities should think about online reputation management like everyone else. We haven’t chosen a company theme song yet, so thanks for the suggestion. It’s time to update my playlist.
10. It appears you’re a Red Sox fan living in New York City. That probably puts you in a good position to tell us about the reputations of Yankee fans, huh?
I love New York City and the people who live and work here are incredibly passionate about everything — from baseball to bagels. Some of my best friends are Yankee fans. I only hold it against them from April to October.
When not overseeing the management of online reputations at Reputation Rhino, Todd enjoys listening to Bruce Springsteen and being diplomatic about fans of the Evil Empire. Thanks for the quality time, Todd!