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November 19, 2014

Book Review- Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, by Andy Beal

In Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, Andy Beal – world prominent online reputation management (ORM) figure, award-winning blogger, professional speaker, and author, takes readers through a simple 30-day guide to building, managing, monitoring and protecting your valuable online reputation. An action oriented and practical guide, Repped provides sound, useful advice as well…

Cover, Repped

Repped-Andy Beal

In Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, Andy Beal – world prominent online reputation management (ORM) figure, award-winning blogger, professional speaker, and author, takes readers through a simple 30-day guide to building, managing, monitoring and protecting your valuable online reputation. An action oriented and practical guide, Repped provides sound, useful advice as well as practical daily exercises, helping the reader to focus their ideas and plan.

Presenting a wide range of case studies, Repped puts relevant information together in a step-by-step plan, explaining how a positive online reputation can lead to satisfied, loyal customers; fewer detractors; easier job seeking, and most importantly greater profits.

Aimed at those wishing to understand the importance of building an online reputation, Repped is equally suited to the more established ORM practitioner as well as those with no former knowledge of the subject. Small and medium businesses, non-profit corporations, Fortune 500

companies, and even individuals, will benefit from Beal’s ‘from zero to hero’ approach.

Andy Beal walks readers through a clear process, inspiring them to consider:

  • What is online reputation management?
  • How can you find centers of influence?
  • How do you build a proper content online?
  • How do you deal with trash talking?
  • How do you audit your Google reputation?
  • How can you build your reputation safety net?
  • How do you identify your detractors?
  • How do you react in reputation attack?
  • What do you do to clean up negative search results?

But what does Repped really mean? It is about adding “a positive reputation rating to an individual’s online profile”.

By now you will hopefully have come to realise that we all have an online reputation to protect. Considering the fact that social media has allowed our voices to be heard much further in this digital world, the absolute worst time to improve on our online reputation is during a reputation crisis. Beal presents quite an elaborate and to-the-point definition of ORM, and explains why it is essential to deal with online reputation management when you are calm and when you have time and resources.

Online reputation management, in the author’s own words, is “a deliberate effort to increase the number of positive Internet discussions about you, while limiting the damage of any negative ones”.

Beal explains the importance of setting goals in order to measure your results against them. He suggests the 3×30 rule, which divides goals into short-term, mid-term and long-term. Undoubtedly, we all have a desire to be loved, appreciated, liked or embraced, but the main reason for creating positive online reputation is, according to Beal, about “money, money, money!”

Beal outlines the six reputations that most of us need to nurture and take care of:

  • our personal name
  • social media nicknames
  • a company name
  • product and brand names
  • executive names
  • and the marketing message (or slogan) that is tied to your company

He also points out that it is almost impossible to separate your personal reputation from your business reputation, nor your personal opinion from that of your company. The same goes for your online and offline actions.

It is logical for someone to consider where exactly all those reputations are being discussed. Beal focuses on Google, suggesting that an Incognito Tab may help you to find the results that your stakeholders use. Social media monitoring tools, such as Google Analytics, Google Alerts, Trackur and SAS Social Media Analytics – are also aids to track visitors to your website or relevant articles and blog posts.

A strong part of Repped is the “centers of influence”, which will support your online reputation everywhere your stakeholders are present. Conversations about you online should be detected, but also it is necessary to find out where they are hosted, including social networks, blogs, forums etc. Beal also underlines the empowered employees who can be brand ambassadors for your reputation, but at the same time they can be the root of serious reputation scandals.

One of my favorite pieces of advice in this book is about social media content and online behavior. This for me is what makes Repped stand out from other books written on the subject. Beal’s belief that you should invest your effort and time only in those networks where your stakeholders hangout, is invaluable. The book also provides useful technical information and social media tips, and Beal’s experience in both SEO and reputation management is very apparent.

Take his example about building your website, social media networks and even URL so that they include your personal or company name. Rather than using “About us”, it is important to add the company name, for example: “About Company Name”. Google will then understand that the page is relevant enough to show in the page one of its search results. According to Beal, you should also provide the search engine spiders with a clear indication that the content is relevant to you, writing bios in the third person. For example, instead of writing ‘I am the Managing Director of Igniyte’, you could write ‘Simon Wadsworth is the Managing Director of Igniyte’.

Outstanding and authentic content, such as infographics, animations, videos and blog posts can really boost your own center of influence. Beal discusses the notion of ‘goodwill’ and a willingness to make content shareable. Do this, he says, and you will be taking steps to building a reputation as a person that helps others. He also reminds us about the vital importance of including in our vocabulary compassionate words such as “thanks” and “sorry”.

An interesting part of this book is about ‘trash talking’. Beal’s advice is to avoid talking trash about competitors, consumers, boss and another reason, as all this is likely to reflect badly on the perpetrator. There is only one case in which trash talking can be beneficial, according to Beal, and this is when you are under the threat of a defamatory attack.

Just how important are reviews to the consumer? Repped indicates that 85% of consumers care about reviews, thus it is essential to funnel your customers to provide their positive review. Following the advice that Beal gives, it is necessary to respond both to positive and negative reviews, as customers will appreciate it.

This book also discusses that having conducted a reputation audit that will act as a benchmark and will present all the threats and opportunities, you should consider the rule 80/10/10 for the optimisation process. This rule suggests:

  • Spend 80% of your effort on your own web content
  • Spend 10% of your effort on web content you control e.g. Facebook, Twitter or blogs
  • Spend 10% of your effort on content you influence e.g. listings

Be PROACTIVE is one of the book’s main messages. Creating partners through sponsorships, guest posts, affiliates and co-branding, can give you diversity in your search results. Also by identifying your ‘Achille’s heel’ – your weaknesses, you are more likely to build strong foundations and be better prepared for an online reputation attack.

“Reputation never takes a day off”, says Beal, so you need to monitor your reputation, using:

  • social media monitoring tools
  • web analytics
  • strong relationships with your stakeholders

Another useful contribution of this book is about the strength of the detractors. Beal identifies seven categories of detractor (listed below), and explains how to deal with them properly:

  • the loyalist
  • the brandvocate
  • the virgin
  • the professional
  • the disgruntled
  • the underminer
  • the troll

As you would expect, Beal devotes considerable space on how to dealing with a reputation crisis. Don’t panic! Is his first advice. He points out three words that you should keep in mind while facing a reputation attack:

  • sincerity
  • transparency
  • consistency

The book also provides experienced-based advice on dealing directly with the detractor who caused you the damage. The majority of your stakeholders who attack your reputation want just one thing: an APOLOGY.

Congrats Andy and thank you for bringing Repped to us. It might sound impossible to build a positive online reputation within 30 days, especially if you‘re already suffering from reputation crisis, but this practical guide outlines all the essential steps to follow with an easy way. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand and build an outstanding online reputation.

Keep in mind my favorite quote that Beal uses to open and close his book:

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

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