Managing your online reputation was one of the sessions I was looking to most for this conference, with Rhea Drysdale of Outspoken Media, Gary Kibel of Davis & Gilbert Law, Charlie Cole VP of Online at Lucky Brand Jeans and Nick Pavlidas of Arent Fox Law (can you tell that I am relaximng in the press room now, I’m managing to get all my links in and if you’re lucky there’ll be formatting too!)
Having a mix of brand, agency and legal eagles on a panel like this certainly made it a lot more insightful than I was expecyting and there were some great insights came out of the session.
Just a note, the advice given by the lawyers on this panel was based on US law, your mileage may vary.
Gary Kibel started with a quick legal reminder. There are 2 key laws that make user generated content possible – DMCA, gives an online publisher immunity for copyright infringement uploaded by users, however you have to put a policy in place for users to make complaints about content – this is only for copyright, and the service provider only has immunity if they follow the procedures
Then there is the Community decency act, (both written in the mid 90’s) there is blanket immunity without the need to put policies in place with this one. He walked us through the case of Todd Hollis v www.don’thatehimgirl.com, whereby Todd kept getting bad reviews of himself removed until the site decided that they were going to maintain the comments made about him. At this point Todd sued, and Don’t date that girl were found nopt to be liable for comments made by users (the users may be). However be careful if you give people the tools to make speech illegal, you may become liable
He also talked about needing to control your employees, as that may leave you in sticky situations too followed by a quick review of the Chrysler situation from a cople of weeks ago
Charlie Cole, was up next to give us the brand perspective
He highlighted the methods of brand protection as SEO, Social media, domain registrations, presence. For SEO he talked about page domination, using some relatively simple techniques like Sitelinks to push everyone else below the fold. For social media he talked about engagement and brand monitoring. He feels that the key is monitoring and engagement (they have 14 admins on their FB account). He is saying that even a fairly innocuous comment can cause a flurry of similar comments that causes complaints, for him the key is getting that discussion taken off Facebook, don’t try and solve it online, allow the compliment about how you fixed it to be the online aspect. He describes it as a mob, I like that
On to domain registration, think about what domains you would hate to see ranking online, he starts talking about www.dellsucks.com, he advocates registering every domain you can think of that might rank badly for your brand, I disagree with this, he says get 1,000 domains for 10,000 bucks, but I think chances are if someone is determined they’re still going to think of one he hasn’t (luckybrandjeansneverfit.com is available I just checked)
Protect your brand through online presence, you should be present everywhere so you can combat other people being present where you’re not, ie people posting unoffical videos. PPC is also a chanel that you should ensure you are being seen for in terms of brand protection, that some keywords may not convert, but being there may be necessary for your reputation
Next up is Rhea – She starts with the question ‘What is your brand worth?’ Brand is worth 70% of a companies market capitalization
She then defines the threats to a companies online reputation as, competitors, affiliates, resellers, company news, industry news, reviews (reviews are kind of new but they weren’t such a big issue until search engines and social media)
She says reviews are here to stay because Google loves them, she shows business attourney listings with the stars reviews from a year ago, and now the way that these are placing within the reviews rather than within the 7 pack. Sometimes just having valid contact information is all you need to capture the contactin addition to aggregating reviews from around the world, there are also Google reviews, but don’t try and game it, it is generally very easy to spot gamed reviews. She also pointed out that if you don’t have google reviews available, Google will recommend similar places to yours who do. Google is also pulling in reviews from Google products, and ebay (these are the ratings of the seller) & working with Bazaarvoice & power reviews to pull in reviews, demand force & customer lobby will also go and solicit reviews for you, they’re not partnered with Google yet, so these are great places to start improving your customer rating online.
She then goes on to recommend auditing existting threats & potential risks, define metrics and establish a baseline, invest in ORM reviews & offsite reviews, use the hReview microformat, and use canonical reviews creatively, protect your brand, optimise corporate & personal profiles
- audit web properties
- claim and optimise local listings
- develop & promote off site content
- co-ordinate with PR
Last up is Nick Pavlidis talking about the law of reputation management. Firstly he defines the sources of legal risks,
- customers & potential customers
- Affiliates & agent
- unrelated 3rd parties
If your employees are doing something that is within the scope of their role, this can cause legal issues (ie a lawyer blogging about a legal issue) he listed some common legal issues including;
- trade libel
- e personattion law
- advertising law
Opinion is not defamation, it needs to be a statement of fact, and the defamed party needs to prove that they have been hurt.
Employees can unknowingly let out trade secrets, if you don’t have the right policies in place, you may lose protection, you have to make sure your employees know what to do with information. Interesting poiont, if you don’t want people to know your customer list, employees linking with their contacts throuh linked in can cause issues.
e-personation started out with old laws, this is about people cyber quatting, and creating sites that either makemoney off, or harm a company throughimpersonation. Many states including CA have now made this illegal
Best practices & opportunities
- develop online posting policies
- train employees
- consider where monitoring is appropriate
- limit involvement with UGC
- respect privacy
- consider the risks/rewards
- consider courts assistance
There was so much great advice came out of this session, I don’t think I’ve even managed to cover half of it, but there were certainly some aspects I hadn’t considered before. Great to see such a rounded session on this.