Deleting Negative Reviews – Drive-By Marketing

In this podcast I address deleting negative reviews and comments about your company / product / service from review sites, Facebook pages and other locations.

I mention the reasons why you shouldn’t delete negative reviews, which include:

  • How it makes your profile looks fake or fixed, as if you were trying to game the system.
  • The missed opportunity to build dialogue and trust with your customers or community
  • The missed opportunity to learn from these reviews and improve your product or service.

If you have questions, comments or things that you’d like me to discuss of future episodes please leave me a message in the comments below.

Podcasting and Social Proof – A Missed Opportunity

Podcasting and Soaccial Proof - Paul OFlaherty

There’s a missed opportunity for podcast hosting companies such as Libsyn, Blubrry and now SoundCloud, to bring social proof to podcasting simply by opening up an API that allows plugins to poll download numbers and display them next to podcast players.

Blubrry already has the excellent PowerPress plugin, which I am sure the vast majority of WordPress based podcasters use regardless of where they host their media, so it should be really easy for them to add it. Libsyn and other providers could get involved simply by releasing a plugin that checks the filename in the enclosure custom field, polls an API every few hours (or once a day even) and allows podcasters to display a chiclet or some text- just like folks do for newsletter subscriber numbers, Facebook subscribers, Twitter followers and YouTube views. SoundCloud could start by making RSS downloads (a podcasters lifeblood) part of the reported public stats instead of hiding the numbers away privately and only showing the “on SoundCloud” plays.

Why would we want this? Because social proof works when building an audience. It’s easier to pick up more followers or downloads the more you already have – then it’s up to you to keep them.

iTunes and it’s frankly poor podcast search, should not be the only social proof that podcasters have.

Why Social Media Marketing? – Drive-By Marketing Podcast

“Why should we bother with social media marketing? We have a website and most of our business comes from Word of Mouth. We’re actually a profitable and very successful local company. Isn’t this just another expense?”

I hear questions like that a lot, and it’s easy to empathize with small business owners who can see social media as just another drain on their already tight time and financial resources.

In the video and audio below I cover 5 reasons why you’re small business needs to be engaged on social media.

Here’s the TL;DR (Too Long Didn’t Read) version for those of you can’t watch or listen right now:

Honestly, it’s not a matter if you should be engaged in social media marketing, it’s only about how  well you commit to doing it.

Blind Reposting – Drive-By Marketing Rant

Reposting content online, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or any other social network, can be an awesome way to keep your followers engaged. It can bring attention to your brand from those whose content you’re reposting, and it can provide your audience with new content while you get your own content ready for sharing. Best of all it helps break the cycle of “me, me, me, product, product, product… sell, sell, sell…”, a cycle which is unfortunately all too common.

Reposting, sharing, retweeting can all be seen by your audience as an endorsement, so be careful what you repost. Don’t automate the process, and definitely read / watch / listen to everything you share or you could end up embarrassing yourself or your brand.

In the video / audio below I give an example of how I encountered this over the past week.

10 Days To Go – Brown Britches Time

The frequency with which I post about personal things on this site has become a rarity akin to a day without TMZ posting a wardrobe malfunction. In some ways that’s a sad thing for me, as this site has been a cathartic release for me for over a decade, however, it’s also a sign that life and business are good. That is to say, business is keeping me too busy to post anything unrelated, and life is too good for me to have much to complain about – besides exhaustion, my ever-present companion… I’m telling you 18 – 20 months old and separation anxiety… oh man!

If I’ve learned anything over the past 15+ years of blogging (an amazing 10 of which are archived on this site) it’s that there’s an ebb and flow to my writing that is not only governed by my passions but also by what’s happening in my life at the time, so I try not to sweat it.

That said, I am sweating right now. Not literally sweating – mentally. Scarlett Elyse will be born in 10 days and her impending arrival is causing me all sorts of anxiety. It isn’t that I’m not excited – quite the opposite. I couldn’t be happier and more excited, but I am afraid.

I was afraid when Malcolm “Stormageddon” Tennant O’Flaherty was born too, but this is different.

You see, Mal was my first and as such my parenting skills were entirely untested. 20 months later and I would have to declare my parenting skills still largely untested. It’s not that I’m not heavily involved in my son’s life, because I like to think I take a more active role than most, but beyond stating that “I haven’t managed to kill the child yet”, I can’t really attest to doing things right.

“The proof is in the pudding”, as they say (I don’t know who they are, but they clearly know a lot about pudding).

Unfortunately the pudding of parenting isn’t ready to eat for about 18 years.

Sara doesn’t berate me much for my parenting style, so I guess that’s something – but now I’m about to have a second child to morally corrupt / screw up / turn into the worlds first evil genius with the ability to actually defeat James Bond and even worse, manage to get through interrogating 007 without divulging any of her plans or secrets.

What can I do. What will become of the world?

I know I’m probably over-reacting. I’m betting that this is standard pre-birth paranoia for most parents. I just don’t want to get things wrong.

I want the best for my kids, and I want to be the best for my kids.

I guess the adventure is worth a little sweating and a fistful of new gray hairs!

It Is A Very Silly Email Address…

Monty Python - Very Silly Email Address - Paul O'Flaherty

What’s your name? What’s your company name? What’s your email address? Ask those 3 questions fast enough and it almost sounds like a Monty Python sketch.

Just like the “Bridge of Death” scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” if you answer incorrectly then cast into the chasm you shall be.

If your email address ends is @yahoo, @gmail, @comcast, @aol or any other service other than @yourcompany then you’re inflicting a serious flesh wound to your reputation and deserve to be mauled by the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.

Reputable companies do not use disposable, throwaway email accounts.

Image: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Fake It ‘Til You Make It – The Thin Veneer Of Social Media?

The Higton Bros may have hit an uncomfortable nail squarely on the head with this video about the reality behind the status updates of our friends and those we follow online.

Facebook can be depressing because everyone else’s lives are better than yours… But are they really?

The video hasn’t last any of its relevancy in the 6 months it has taken to come to my attention (hat-tip to Fast Company) and should serve as a stark reminder that many people who suffer from social anxiety (which I guess we all do in some form or another,  except the most confident of us) are not only dealing with FOMO (fear of missing out syndrome) but with social pressure to be as interesting as everyone else.

It’s a reminder to all of us to take everything we see online from the happiest status update, to the most blistering outrage, with a healthy pinch of salt. It should also bring to the surface the necessity of reaching out to people “in the real world” and finding out what is actually going on before relying on oft ambiguous social updates.

Finally, it’s a stark reminder that if you really want to have awesome stuff to post online – you need to get off your ass and do stuff!

The Beatles Had It Right – Can’t Buy Me Love

Valentines Diamond

So, Valentine’s Day, eh?

My beautiful wife is rather fond of pointing out that “all men pay for it in the end”, and yes Sara’s talking about sex.

She’s not implying that all women are prostitutes, but instead referring to how relationships function and the simple fact that if you want to get something, 99% of the time you have to do something first.

Another way to put it is – lazy, inattentive, unappreciative husbands typically only get two things – nagged at and then divorced. And rightly so. May I add that it also works the other way around.

I have no problem admitting that I dislike Valentines Day. Not because I don’t want to show my appreciation for my wife. Trust me when I say that she will be treated like royalty tomorrow – pampered, have her favorite meal cooked for her, be lavishly spoiled with gifts and I’ll be spending as much time with her as possible.

No, I dislike Valentines Day not only because it is so commercialized but because so many people appear to need Valentines as an excuse to go the extra mile and show their partners how they feel, and so many others are only putting in the effort because, well… It’s Valentine’s Day.

I do not have an ulterior motive when it comes to February 14th. This isn’t a “I’ll treat her like a princess today, and she’ll let me into her castle tonight” kind of thing. Yes, it’s an excuse to buy an extra present or two and maybe go out for a special meal, or to cook her favorite food, but if we are honest with ourselves, we should be doing it all the time.

If you find yourself in a relationship where you are essentially bribing or being bribed in order to get a little “jiggy jiggy” on Valentine’s Day, maybe you need to reevaluate…

I think the reason Sara and I are so happy together is that we don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to roll around in order to make each other feel special. There’s always random “just because” gifts that don’t even have to be expensive, it can often be as little as randomly picking up someone’s favorite ice cream when at the store, or cooking their favorite dinner. They’re just little things that say “I’m thinking of you”.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not perfect. We have our bad days. We argue, we’re grumpy, we piss each other off, but…

We’ve each been around the block before. We’ve learned from our past relationship mistakes and each know how important it is not just to feel loved in a relationship but to make your partner feel loved too.

We always tell each other how we feel, how much we love each other, and we try to talk through an empathize with issues that we may each be having. We make a point of kissing when we see each other, holding hands when we’re out together, message each other and finding time everyday just to be together and talking about our days.

Sara is not just my wife, the mother to my children and the person whom I share a house with. She is my best friend, my confidant, my partner, my lover and everything I could ever want, and more.

If you feel about your spouse, partner or significant other, the way I feel about Sara, I can’t imagine how you could wait or allow yourself to be limited to one over-commercialized day a year to show them just how much you love them.

Native Advertising on Forbes Magazine Cover – Right Or Wrong?

Forbes Cover Page

Image: Forbes

As a consumer I am not a fan of so-called “native” advertising, which are basically advertising pieces that are dressed up to look like editorial content. It’s become a relatively prevalent practice on the web, and in print you’re used to seeing them as advertorials.

Side note: I’m not discussing In-Feed units, recommendation widgets,  paid search units, or any of the other “looks almost like the real thing except for the disclosure” forms of “native” advertising in this post.

No matter how we gussy it up, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that native advertising isn’t about creating a better experience for the reader (although we say it is) , it’s about creating more revenue streams (which we say it isn’t really) and creating adverts in the hopes that the reader doesn’t realize what they are consuming and takes it as a genuine editorial endorsement (no, no no nevah!).

You can put lipstick on a pig…

According to Ad Age, Forbes will run a cover on Monday includes native advertising, can you spot it in the image?

That’s right, it’s the black box on the right shilling for Fidelity, who purchased a two-page infographic in the publication and for what I can only assume is an obscene amount of money.

Forbes aren’t the first to do this. Time Inc., ran Verizon ads on the covers Time and Sports Illustrated last year, but they haven’t tried it again since. Despite this, undisclosed ads on the front of magazine covers remains a new phenomenon.

Mr. Mark Howard, Forbes Media’s chief revenue officer doesn’t see an issue with this:

The cover line doesn’t specifically state that it’s an advertisement. It does, however, include the term “FidelityVoice,” which is how Forbes marks its native ads — melding the advertiser’s name with the word “voice.”

Mr. Howard doesn’t think the cover line is misleading. “When you look at the color scheme and the box, it’s separated, it has a different background,” he said. “For readers of Forbes, they’ve known for four years that when you see FidelityVoice that that is content that’s coming from one of our partners.”

Mr. Howard might not see an issue with this but I do. Granted, the hardcore Forbes readers may recognize this as an advertisement, but the average person at an airport newsstand looking for something to read on their flight will not. Heck, Forbes gets delivered to my house every month and I wouldn’t immediately recognize it as an advert.

This brings to mind the FTCs 2009 guidelines governing endorsements and testimonials and how they affect bloggers. The entire point was to protect consumers (and I suppose search integrity) from fake reviews, essentially forcing bloggers to disclose their advertiser or product owner relationships so that consumers wouldn’t mistake advertorials from unscrupulous bloggers and advertisers with genuine reviews.

The FTC acknowledged in the document that traditional media doesn’t have to do the same thing for reviews because the expectation is different:

The Commission acknowledges that bloggers may be subject to different disclosure requirements than reviewers in traditional media. In general, under usual circumstances, the Commission does not consider reviews published in traditional media (i.e., where a newspaper, magazine, or television or radio station with independent editorial responsibility assigns an employee to review various products or services as part of his or her official duties, and then publishes those reviews) to be sponsored advertising messages. Accordingly, such reviews are not “endorsements” within the meaning of the Guides.Under these circumstances, the Commission believes, knowing whether the media entity that published the review paid for the item in question would not affect the weight consumers give to the reviewer’s statements.

Granted, this Fidelity advert is not a review, but it does fly in the face of the traditional expectations of magazine readers – which is NOT to find advertising on the front cover, especially advertising that is not marked as such.

What do you think? Did Forbes go a step too far?