Archive for October, 2011

Online reputation management

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Online reputation management

Protecting one’s online reputation – personal or professional – is extremely important in this day and age. The power of the Internet should never be underestimated. Dissatisfied customers, bitter co-workers and disgruntled employees alike have the potential to seriously damage one’s image on the web.

In order to protect one’s reputation, it is crucial to exercise self-control and censorship when posting content to the Internet. Social networks are an easy place to get carried away and share comments or opinions that might later be used against a person.

One should never forget that content published in an online platform such as Facebook, Twitter or blogs can be viewed by anyone: This means potential employers, recruiters and clients. Most networks are directly associated with one’s name and will come up in an online search.

Many forget that content posted online cannot only be found, but it has the potential to stay there permanently.

Personal censorship is an easy thing to control online. If it seems like something that could be potentially embarrassing or damaging to one’s reputation, it is probably best left unsaid. But what other people have to say about a person or business on the Internet is an entirely different and much more difficult situation to manage.

The beauty of the Internet – and its inherent danger – is that anyone has the power to post anything they want. This means that satisfied clients can rave about a business or its products, whereas cynics and disgruntled customers can just as easily blow off some steam in a blog or review.

Businesses should monitor such online conversations to find out what people are saying about them and to discover which issues need to be addressed. After determining which comments could turn into potential problems, the next step is to resolve them.

A common solution in dealing with online criticism is to simply delete the comments. Although this might be an easy short-term answer to the problem, it’s not always the best idea. In doing so, this conveys to the online community that a person or business has something to hide.

The best thing to do in this situation is to respond to the critical commentary in an apologetic and understanding manner. The customer is always right, and unfortunately, this translates to the social sphere as well. Most dissatisfied clients will appreciate the time and attention they received with a response to their issue, which may even lead them to remove the comment and gain a new perspective on the issue.

Another way to respond to negative online comments is through a blog. Creating a blog with one’s name in the URL will create favorable search engine result pages (SERPs) when people look up the name of a person or business. This will help to push some of the negative content down on the list of results and keep the blog at the top.

Blogs also give the receiver of negative commentary a chance to defend him or herself in a respectable and legitimate online platform. Frequently updating the blog will help the positive content to be viewed before the criticisms. Google responds well to fresh content, and by tagging keywords that are relevant to the issues that need to be resolved, the content of the blog will be more visible in search engine results.

Ideally, all potentially reputation-tarnishing issues online could be resolved via direct communication with the person or organization that originally posted the comment. However, there are unfortunately a lot of people out there who are bitter and quick to jump at the opportunity to criticize.

If a problem can be solved through an apology or explanation, this is the best way to handle it. When you’ve exhausted all other avenues, however, the best way to increase your positive presence online is to create new, engaging content.

WORKS CITED:

Berline, Amanda. “How To Protect Your Online Reputation” Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/01/online-reputation-protect-leadership-careers-networking.html Accessed 10/17/11

Carracher, Jamie. “4 Ways to Protect the Reputation of Your Small Business Online” Mashable http://mashable.com/2011/10/15/protect-small-business-reputation-online/ Accessed 10/17/11

Weinberg, Tamar. “Manage Your Online Reputation” lifehacker http://lifehacker.com/357460/manage-your-online-reputation Accessed 10/17/11

Steve Jobs’s death provokes Internet scams

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Whenever tragedy strikes, Internet scammers are close on the trail with a new ruse to reel in the unsuspecting.

Fraudulent donation funds followed the natural disasters of the Haiti earthquake and the Japan tsunami. Amy Winehouse’s death in July prompted a slew of fake Facebook pop-ups. Most recently, Steve Jobs’s passing has given virtual conmen new fodder to work with.

Within just a few hours of the news breaking about Steve Jobs’ death last week, cyber criminals were hard at work littering the Internet with new scams. Facebook is a popular platform for such fraudulent activity, targeting users that are click-friendly and unwary of being duped.

One such Facebook scam involving the Apple co-founder announced the giving away of 1,000 iPads in commemoration of Steve Jobs. As with most scams on Facebook, users are asked to click on a link which then shares the post on their wall.

In order to be eligible for the iPad drawing, people on Facebook were redirected to an advertising site. Each time a visitor went to the site, the scammer’s earnings increased.

Another variation of the Steve Jobs scam asked users to complete an online survey before they could receive their free iPad or other Apple device. The survey required sensitive personal information, such as birth dates and even credit card numbers for shipping purposes.

The deceptive sites also infected computers with malware when users clicked the links. Some of these websites worked on commission, and with an increase in traffic, came an increase in revenue.

Most Internet scams work in the same fashion: They get people to click on links, share the post with others, and give away their sensitive information.

The Better Business Bureau put out a warning against the Steve Jobs Internet scam, and they urged people to be suspicious of any posts advertising free products and asking users to complete online surveys, especially those on Facebook.

Scammers often target Facebook users because of their click-happy and social nature. Facebook is considered to be somewhat of a community where friends share things. If a friend shares a link for free iPads, most assume that they can trust their judgment and sign up for the free stuff as well.

It’s unfortunate that evildoers out there prey on unsuspecting and trustworthy Internet users. To use someone’s death for monetary benefit is a disgraceful act, but it continues to happen each time a newsworthy event occurs.

Facebook has 800 million users, and in the eyes of scammers, they’re all potential prey and sources of income.

In order to steer clear of such situations, it’s important to follow a few key guidelines. Don’t ever give out credit card numbers or personal information, be wary of anything that looks suspicious, and above all, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

WORKS CITED:

Hart, Janet C. “BBB: Watch Out for Internet Scams Related to Steve Jobs’ Death” BBB http://charlotte.bbb.org/article/BBB-Watch-Out-for-Internet-Scams-Related-to-Steve-Jobs-Death-29901 Accessed 10/11/11

“Steve Jobs’ death spawns scams” channelnewasia.com http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/technologynews/view/1158287/1/.html Accessed 10/10/11

Reebok to refund $25m to consumers over deceptive ads

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Reebok to refund $25m to consumers over deceptive ads

Some things are just too good to be true. Among these is attaining a state of physical fitness without any exercising.

Reebok, which claimed that their EasyTone shoes strengthen and tone muscles in the legs, thighs and buttocks, announced last week that they will be refunding $25 million to consumers who purchased the footwear on or after December 5, 2009.

Over the past twenty years, the US population has suffered increasingly from poor diet and sedentary lifestyles. In a nation where one-third of adults are obese, Reebok built an advertising campaign for their EasyTone shoes on the American desire to get the benefits of exercise without having to do the necessary work.

The “balance pod technology” featured in the soles of the EasyTone footwear was developed by former NASA engineer Bill McInnis, who currently serves as the Head of Innovation for Reebok.

Over 18 months, McInnis developed the EasyTone system, which features rounded shoe soles that use natural instability in every step to force the wearer to use more muscles to achieve balance. EasyTone sneakers are intended for walking only, and Reebok discourages consumers from using them for sports, as injury is likely to occur.

Although Reebok was the first to incorporate the balance pod technology into their footwear, New Balance and Skechers also make use of a similar system.

Introduced in 2009, Reebok had one of their most successful product launches with the EasyTone and its advertising campaign. In 2010, the toning footwear became extremely popular and opened up a $1.1 billion market that included shoes, flip-flops, and apparel.

Playing on the notion that sex sells, Reebok’s EasyTone ads featured women in short shorts and well-formed derrieres, claiming that the shoes were proven to lead to 28 percent more strength and tone in buttock muscles and 11 percent more in hamstring and calf muscles when compared to regular walking shoes.

The ads targeted women that live busy lifestyles and little time for a gym membership.

After various studies challenging the advertisement claims, the Federal Trade Commission announced that there was no evidence to support Reebok. Research by the American Council on Exercise concluded that the toning shoes did not lead to increased muscle activation or energy expenditure.

Some consumers have even reported that they suffered from various injuries due to wearing the EasyTone shoes, such as shin splints, twisted ankles and sore muscles.

In response to government interaction, Reebok reached a settlement with the FTC and agreed to refund up to $25 million to people who bought the EasyTone shoes. Those eligible for the settlement claim are able to fill out a form provided by the FTC and Reebook for a refund.

Reebok footwear that features the balance pod technology includes EasyTone flip-flops ($60), EasyTone walking shoes ($80 to $100) and RunTone running shoes ($80 to $100).

Reebok’s advertising campaign was ingenious: It appealed to the American desire to have an attractive body, yet catered to the fact that our culture is busy and lacks time or motivation for a gym membership.

Reebok compelled thousands of consumers to flock to retail shops everywhere and purchase the magical shoes. In the end, Reebok learned a difficult and expensive lesson – one that will cost them fiscally now and a lowered reputation in the future.

WORKS CITED:

Aviles, Kay. “A Quick Glimpse on Reebok’s ‘EasyTone’ Sneaker” International Business Times http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/223345/20111002/a-quick-glimpse-on-reebok-s-easytone-sneakers.htm Accessed 10/3/11

Freeman, Hadley. “Reebok EasyTone: the shoes that undermines all fitness advertising” theguardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/blog/2011/sep/29/reebok-easytone-ftc-fine?newsfeed=true Accessed 10/3/11

Skidmore, Sarah. “Reebok to pay $25M over toning shoes claims” The Associated Press http://www.suntimes.com/business/7932713-420/reebok-to-pay-25m-over-toning-shoe-claims.html Accessed 10/3/11