Social Media - The Instant Brand Killer
By Kalena Jordan
With the increasing uptake of social
media sites such
as Digg, Technorati, Slashdot, YouTube and
MySpace, together with community bookmarking
like Del.icio.us, Reddit and Ma.gnolia,
world over can reach their target markets via
Social networking is like viral marketing on
Companies can release a new product in the
morning and have it talked about by millions
on thousands of sites by the afternoon.
The good news is that social media is user
The bad news is that social media is user
Yes, there's the rub. Users are fickle
creatures - they
can love a product one minute and then drop
it like a
lead balloon the next, depending on their
with the product, a rumor, or whether they
their morning coffee yet. And if their
experience is bad,
the noise is generally louder. To protect their
reputations it's not just journalists that
have to impress these days. It's anyone with a
computer and an Internet connection. Love it
or hate it,
the user community now has enormous power over
the online reputation of a company or brand.
Not surprisingly, businesses and individuals
clamor for the attention and mostly enjoy the
that social media can bring. Others hate the
scrutiny that often accompanies the
example is usability blogger Kim Krause Berg's
unpleasant first experience of Digg - I
Digg Being Dugg.
Online communities can even bring a site to its
knees. Marketers are calling it the "Digg
Effect" or the "Slashdot Effect". Buzz
for a site
can cause more
than good or bad publicity. As Kim found out,
can cause traffic overload sometimes
resulting in site
downtime and lost business.
Social media can also kill the reputation of
instantly. Take the
Microsoft Windows Vista
Scandal for instance. No stranger to the
social media, Microsoft had allegedly tried
the power of the blogosphere at the end of
by sending a number of A-list bloggers a free
Ferrari laptop loaded with the
Windows Vista and Office 2007.
The pitch was a request for the bloggers to
the new Windows software in their influential
Many bloggers did write a review, but some
disclose their free gift. When this fact was
later, the bloggers were hammered by large
of the blogosphere for what they saw as a clear
conflict of interest. Microsoft were tagged
and figuratively as bribers and
widely panned with parody tag lines such as
So Bad We Had to Give it Away". Not a great
start to an
online product release.
Another example of the damage that social
networking can do to a company's online
the National Pork Board of America's recent
with breastfeeding advocate and well-known
Laycock. Jennifer was sent a harshly worded
letter from the Pork Board's representing
legal action for allegedly stealing
their pro-pork slogan "Pork: The Other White
a pro-breastfeeding t-shirt she had designed
read "The Other White Milk".
The letter suggested that their case for
infringement was probably solid.
Unfortunately for the
Pork Board, the poorly-worded letter also
that they were insensitive to breastfeeding
and the plight of starving infants. The Pork
didn't count on Jennifer's influence in the
and the power of social networking to carry
response to the world. The Pork Board ended up
receiving bags of hate mail and thousands of
emails via their online contact form, forcing
public apology to
CEO and a generous donation to the Mother's Milk
Bank of Ohio in order to save face.
To their credit, the Pork Board did the right
also made sure that all persons who complained
about their approach to Jennifer received a
measured email response from the CEO. As a
PR consultant myself, I tip my hat at them.
apology come from the very top is smart. It
demonstrates how seriously they took the
The wording of the complainant response is
and restrained. Addressing each and every
complainer personally is impressive. It
tempting to ignore all the flames and issue some
stock standard release.
Their choice of legal team may have been
questionable, but the Pork Board's public
team mobilized quickly, upgraded to full damage
control mode and did a great job of mopping
PR mess before it spread too far. Social
have damaged them, but the Pork Board's
was ultimately salvaged by quick thinking and
Such situations underscore the growing
of online reputation management
(ORM) in our Web
2.0, social media-driven world. Companies
tracking their online reputation on a daily
check for negative commentary via social
order to avert potential PR disasters. Major
marketing players such as Andy Beal
potential growth in ORM a long time ago.
how many PR/Search Marketing agencies currently
offer this service?
With brand reputation increasingly at risk,
you can be
sure the smart agencies will be adding ORM to
service offerings faster than you can say
About the Author
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first
optimization experts in Australia, who is
respected in the industry, particularly in the
As well as running a daily
Search Engine Advice
Column, Kalena manages Search
Engine College -
online training institution offering
courses and downloadable self-study courses in
Engine Optimization and other Search Engine
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Do you dig being Dugg? If you don't know what
talking about, you obviously haven't been
caught up in
the Social Media revolution yet. I'm
community-driven social sites such as Digg,
and MySpace. Are you an active user of these
services? Or have you had a negative
This month's article is about the power that
media sites give the user community over the
reputation of a brand or company. Social
media was a
hot topic being discussed at the Search
Summit Conference I spoke at in Sydney
this month. Almost every speaker seemed to
opinion on the phenomenon.
The conference was a nice distraction from my
routine and holding it at the Luna Park
venue was a masterstroke. Barry Smyth and his
did a great job of pulling the conference
together in a
short space of time and I expect Search
become an annual event. It was a total trip
Andy Beal in person after knowing him
virtually for so
many years. And it was great to catch up with
Sherman and share a laugh with Detlev Johnson
Thanks to those of you who approached me
speaker session to say hi. It was comforting
that my blog and newsletter resonate with so
people. See you at the next one!
Enjoy this issue and remember to visit
my blog to check out my daily answers to
frequently asked search engine questions or
submit one of your own.
Till next time - wishing you clicks and
|FAQ1: How do I ensure a page is NOT indexed by search engines?|
I want to publish a private page on the web, that only I
and a few other people will use. How can I ensure
that this page is NOT picked up by search engines?
It will be a wiki style page, so there may be lots of
content which could be indexed by the Search
Engines. This is what I want to avoid.
Many thanks for your help,
There are a few ways to achieve this:
1) Use a Robots META tag in the page HTML
and include "no index" in the tag.
2) Disallow the page in your
3) Create the page in a sub-folder and password
protect the folder so only persons with a login can
view it. If your host uses CPanel, you can set this up
yourself using WebProtect.
|FAQ2: Is it ok to use an alt tag for every image for accessibility purposes?|
Your newsletter reply to one visitor included: "I would
also avoid using more than 2 or 3 alt tags on a single
page if you can help it." I designed and manage a site
for a visually impaired friend who writes children's
Especially for her site, I notice how her text reader
(JAWS) handles the page. It was my impression that I
should have an alt tag for every image so a text reader
could let visually impaired visitors know what was
there. I wasn't really thinking about what the search
engines want. What should I do about this?
You also mentioned using only 3 or 4 words in the
tag. On my site, the picture is often a book cover. For
example, I have put in the tag: "Click cover to order
The Buggy That Boogied Away." Should that be
changed to "Click cover to order" or to an abbreviated
form of the title? (Some titles are longer than this
one.) Again, I'm thinking about text readers such as
JAWS rather than search engines.
Don't worry about a thing. When you say "I wasn't
really thinking about what the search engines want",
you're right on the money. You were thinking primarily
about the user and they are THE most important
consideration when it comes to designing a web site.
It's perfectly fine to add an alt img tag to every image if
you are doing it primarily for accessibility purposes.
My prior post was really aimed at persons wanting to
add alt tags primarily for search engines. As long as
the alt tags are not excessively stuffed with keywords,
it shouldn't be a problem to include longer ones,
especially where it makes sense to do so, such as
the use of full book titles.
Do whatever makes the most sense for the user and
you should be fine.
|FAQ3: Why can't I see my favicon?|
I have my own domain and I created a favicon.
I did all
I was supposed to do but still can't see the
Mozilla we can see it on our office computer,
the two other computers we can't see it on
hope after 1.5 days of brain-wrecking
have the ground breaking answer for me.
Thanks from Canada
Don't panic - I see it just fine in both
Firefox and IE
from here. What version of IE are you testing
it on? I'm
using IE 7. Have you bookmarked the site and
refreshed the page? Try doing that on the
where you can't see it and also try dumping your
browser cache, your temporary Internet files
visited page history and then relaunch your
I'm betting this will solve the problem.
Meanwhile, you have a more pressing problem with
the site. What on earth are you thinking keyword-
stuffing the top and bottom of your home page
tiny text? You can't tell me that text is
there for humans
to read. Aren't you aware that such retro
earn you ranking suppression penalties on the
search engines? And then you add insult to
stuffing (nearly) hidden links leading to
some type of
link farm all along the bottom of the page.
Are you not aware that these techniques go
Guidelines? It doesn't look as though
caught it yet, but be ready for your rankings to
plummet if they do. Tsk Tsk!
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