How to Optimize Your Digital Footprint in a World Where Your Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset


Is your reputation ruined? Perhaps. And chances are great that if, indeed, insurance companies consider you uninsurable and potential employers consider you unemployable because of something in your digital “record,” you don’t even know it. Welcome to “The Reputation Economy,” the title of a new book by privacy experts Michael Fertik and David Thompson. The theme of The Reputation Economy is that soon, if not already, people know everything there is to know about you — and thus have enough “information” to define your reputation and take steps accordingly.

The Internet’s potential to hurt your reputation is not necessarily new. Clearly if your arrest makes the local newspaper, your name has been indelibly besmirched in hyperspace — but then it’s already been ruined in your community. What the digital age has changed in this example is the breadth of the impact — from your small town to, essentially, the world.

The future Reputation Economy, however, is not about general public information such as newspaper reports. Fertik and Thompson describe a 1984 world that watches every single move you make on the Internet. As they explain, “Massive digital dossiers are being developed on every individual, right down to the websites you visit and the links you click on. There is even a fast-growing underground economy of archives and data-storage sites that quietly collect records of trillions of online activities, often just waiting for someone to figure out a way to make use of all that data.”

And numerous websites are finding ways to make use of that data. mines government records and address databases and makes them available. Klout goes even further, analyzing social media to determine a score on how much influence you might have. Despite some setbacks (notably Klout’s scoring Justin Bieber above Barack Obama), scoring sites are bound to become more numerous and more sophisticated.

The growth of all of these reputation scoring sites, the authors write, will inevitably culminate in “reputation engines.” “Instead of searching for Web pages with relevant information about a particular topic,” the authors write, “reputation engines will search the massive databases of personal information to return all of the relevant information about a person — or find a person who meets a set of criteria.”

It is impossible, according to the authors, to avoid becoming fodder for such reputation engines. “There’s no way to ‘live off the grid’ online,” the authors write. “The reputation engines of the future won’t have an easy opt-out mechanism, and we will all participate whether we like it or not.”

So, what to do? In essence, the authors recommend a “you can’t beat them, so join them” strategy. Don’t try to get off the grid. First, it’s nearly impossible. Even if you don’t have a Facebook page, your friends do and they’re posting pictures of you. And there will always be government records, and a variety of other digital trails of your existence.

Instead of trying to get off the grid, the authors write, it’s better to take charge of your reputation by carefully curating the information on the Internet. As with an art-exhibit curator who selects the pieces in the art show, curating your information on the Internet refers to selecting the “items” you want to highlight. For example, if there’s a picture of you and your sales team receiving an award for sales team of the month, post it. Curating also means avoiding the negative. For example, don’t use social media to insult others, the authors warn. You’ll be the one hurt in the long run. “By carefully curating and highlighting positive information — successes at work, trust among friends, a positive social life and more — you can flood the computers and scoring systems with the type of information you prefer.”

Fertik is the CEO and founder of Thomas is the chief privacy officer of In short, the authors of The Reputation Economy are in the business of privacy. For the majority of the reading public, who may be only dimly aware of the breadth and depth of intrusion allowed by the Internet of today — and even less aware of what awaits on the horizon, The Reputation Economy offers vital advice on how to protect yourself from harm. And even better, according to the authors, anyone can turn the threats of the reputation economy into opportunities.

The Art of Social Media


Perhaps in a few years, as the leadership of companies is taken over by a generation that grew up with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the myriad of other current and future social media channels, there may be less need for books such as Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users. Kawasaki, the former chief evangelist for Apple and author of the highly popular book on entrepreneurship, The Art of the Start, joins forces with co-author Peg Fitzpatrick, a social media strategist, to produce a short yet surprisingly exhaustive primer on the vast variety of tools and processes that individuals and companies can use to leverage their social media efforts.

Feeding the Content Monster

“The biggest daily challenge of social media is finding enough content to share,” Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick write. “We call this ‘feeding the Content Monster.’”

There are two ways to feed the content monster, according to the authors: content creation and content curation. Content creation is the traditional approach: writing copy, taking pictures and/or creating videos, and posting them. The problem is that such creation takes time, making it difficult to add more than two pieces of content per week to the page. Not enough, write the authors. The better approach, therefore, is content curation, which consists of finding high quality content from other people’s social media, then summarizing and sharing it on your page. The authors offer a list of 14 of their favorite curation and aggregation services that make it easy to find good content to curate. They do warn against too much straight sharing, which, they note, will “dull your personal voice and perspective.”

Moving from general to the specific, subsequent chapters range from how to perfect your posts, how to get more followers and how to respond to comments, to how to socialize events, how to run Google+ Hangouts on Air and how to rock a twitter chat.

One of the great strengths of this book is the succinctness of the advice offered. A chapter on “how to perfect your posts” exemplifies the authors’ cut-to-the-chase approach. One section, entitled “be visual,” argues that every single post should have a picture, graphic or video. You can be visual, the authors explain, by including a link to the original story or creating your own graphics, using a company called Canva. Taking a screenshot or “save as” picture from the source and adding it manually to your post is another option but could be legally tricky. The authors refer their readers to a University of Minnesota checklist to see if they are not breaking fair-use laws.

Opt for the E-Book Version

The Art of Social Media is available both as an e-book and in print. However, the University of Minnesota tip exemplifies the problem with the print book. There is no explanation of where to find the University of Minnesota checklist; instead, the words “the University of Minnesota provides a checklist” are underlined in the text, which signifies that it is a hyperlink in the e-book text. The book is crammed with such hyperlinks that will leave print readers frustrated, as these links substitute for examples.

The Art of Social Media is both comprehensive and succinct in its explanations of the myriad possibilities of social media. However, it is recommended to skip the print version and read the e-book.

How to Create Strong Relationships with Consumers

Romancing the Brand. It sounds like the sequel to Romancing the Stone, the movie. But actually it’s a new book by author Tim Halloran. Here is how he begins the book.

“It wasn’t a particularly dramatic moment. The eight women sat around the overflowing table of colored cans and bottles of soft drinks. They has just completed what we call a ‘sorting’ exercise, in which participants arranged soft drink brands in groups based on some organizing principle that they were to develop themselves. I don’t remember how they organized the forty-plus brands that day, but what happened next stuck with me. A petite woman in her late twenties, picked up one of the cans and said to the focus group moderator, ‘I drink eight of these a day. It is always with me, no matter what happens. I was there when my boss gave me my promotion last week. It was at my side two months ago when my cat died. It got me through it. I start and end my day with it. It’s never let me down. I can always count on it. To sum it up, it’s my boyfriend . . . Diet Coke.’”

Wouldn’t we all like to have this kind of loyalty from our customers? They are engaging in a rich, complex, ever-changing relationship, and they’ll stay loyal, resisting marketing gimmicks from competitors and influencing others to try the brand they love.

Halloran reveals what it takes to make consumers fall in love with your brand. Drawing on exclusive, in-depth interviews with managers of some of the world’s most iconic brands, he arms you with an arsenal of classic and emerging marketing tools—such as benefit laddering and word-of-mouth marketing—that make best-in-class brands so successful.

We’ve invited Tim Halloran to join us on April 30th to reveal to us How to Create Strong Relationships with Consumers. This Soundview Live webinar with give you the chance to learn first-hand about these emerging marketing tools, and to ask your most challenging questions. Join us for the sequel and bring your popcorn.

The Importance of Relationships

Relationships are key to business success. On a personal level, who we know really does make a difference in our career and personal life. But on the business level relationships are becoming more critical as well. Companies and brands are being built and destroyed through the power of word of mouth, especially via social media. So our relationship to our customers must be nourished just like our personal connections.

In the coming week we will have the privilege of hosting two webinars with experts in the area of personal and business relationships.

Transforming Your Business Contacts into Success with David Nour

David Nour has been a recognized strategist and thought leader on the topic of business relationships for more than 25 years. He delivers over fifty keynotes annually at leading industry associations, universities and Fortune 500 companies, has several top selling books and pioneered the phenomenon that relationships are the greatest off-balance sheet asset any organization possesses. He shares strategies and insight on The Nour Group’s blog, e-mail newsletters and social media assets reaching hundreds of thousands of executives and entrepreneurs across a broad base of industries and geographic markets.

In this Soundview Live webinar David Nour will take you beyond just getting and giving business cards, working a room, or getting the most out of a conference. His focus is how to strategically invest in relationships as your most valuable asset for an extraordinary return. Nour will introduce new concepts in relationship management, including the exchange of Relationship Currency, the accumulation of Reputation Capital, and the building of Professional Net Worth. These are the fundamental measures of business relationship, and once you understand them, you’ll be able to turn your contacts into better executions, performance, and results.

Harnessing the Power of Word of Mouth with Paul Rand

Paul M. Rand is the founder, president and CEO of Zócalo Group — a leading digital, social media and word-of-mouth marketing agency focused on making its client’s brands the most discovered, talked about and recommended in their category.  In addition to his role at Zócalo Group, Paul serves on the national board of directors for the Council of the Better Business Bureau is a past president and board member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and Vice Chairman of the Dean’s Advisory Board for DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business and Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

In this Soundview Live webinar, Paul Rand, the founder of one of today’s most successful digital and social marketing firms, will reveal how customer recommendations in the digital space have radically transformed the way people buy–which means you need to come up with new methods to reach customers and improve your products. Apply the lessons of one of the pioneers of word of mouth marketing to ensure that your brand is Highly Recommended.

Please join us for these two excellent events, and if you can’t make the particular dates, register anyway and you can watch the replay whenever you want. Put the power of recommendations to work in your career and business.

Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype



Marketing depends on being able to command your customers’ attention. Historically, the strategy for marketing rested on “top-of-mind awareness,” explains marketing consultant Jay Baer in his new book, Youtility. Top-of-mind awareness is predicated on companies putting their brand names in front of the consumer as much as possible.

A more recent marketing strategy is the concept of “frame-of-mind awareness.” In this case, the brand appears when the consumer is in the right frame of mind — that is, when he or she is ready to buy. Search engine optimization and a presence on specialized sites is key.

Inbound marketing, as this type of marketing is called, is important, Baer writes, but it’s only half the story. As social media starts to compete with websites and search engines, companies cannot rely only on frame-of-mind marketing to sustain them in the information age. Today, instead of using a search engine, someone with a new dog might ask for a vet recommendation from his or her Facebook friends. As a result, companies need to engage in what Baer calls “friend of mine” awareness; instead of saying, “I’m here,” they need to ask, “How can I help?”

Baer calls this helpfulness, Youtility. He writes, “Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers.”

Three Facets of Youtility

How do you translate the attitude of helping your customers into action? The first step, according to Baer, is to understand the three facets of Youtility:

  • Self-serve information. Unlike in the past, people today are used to researching the information they need rather than depending on the advice of professionals. To build loyalty, companies must help customers and prospects in their quest for self-serve information.
  • Radical transparency. Companies shouldn’t try to hide or distort information; prospects want to know the unfiltered details. Make it easier, not harder, for them to find information.
  • Real time relevancy. The information must be useful — not only today but, in the age of apps, useful at this very minute.

Blueprints to Create Youtility

Having established the three facets of Youtility as guiding principles, Baer then offers a step-by-step blueprint for “creating” Youtility. The first step, not surprisingly, is understanding customers’ needs. Baer urges companies to use the technology available today — including social chatter and web analytics — to determine exactly what needs customers are looking to fulfill through their purchases. Mapping customer needs to useful marketing is the next step and involves how to best convey the information. “Determining the optimal conveyance mechanism requires a level of research beyond understanding customer needs,” Baer writes.

The third step in creating Youtility is to market your marketing. In other words, promote the useful information your company is pulling together. If you have an app, make sure the app is promoted on your website, describe the app in your email marketing and even create a related YouTube video. The fourth step is to insource Youtility, which refers to getting a wide variety of employees involved in the “useful information” effort. Whether this involvement is voluntary, assisted, mandatory or even circumstantial depends on the situation.

A Process, Not a Project

Baer also urges companies to “make Youtility a process, not a project.” Youtility must be an ongoing program for a number of reasons, including shifting customer needs as well as technology advances, he writes. Finally, companies need to keep score; they should use different categories of measurement — including consumption and sales metrics — to gauge the effectiveness of the effort. Admittedly, the return on investment may not always be easy to calculate.

Baer’s book is a detailed, very well-organized manual for adapting marketing to the parameters of today’s world of information avalanche. At the beginning of the book, Baer writes, “If you sell something, you make a customer today. If you help someone, you make a customer for life.” Youtility will help guide you in making more customers for life.

How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics



Pop stars will always have their die-hard fans, and superstar Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) is no different. Lady Gaga calls her fans “little monsters,” and in Monster Loyalty, marketing and social media author and speaker Jackie Huba shows why the singer known for her outrageous costumes and mega-hits can serve as a model for developing sustained customer loyalty. Huba, whose previous books are Creating Customer Evangelists and Citizen Marketers, draws seven key business lessons from Gaga’s career: focus on your one percenters, lead with values, build community, give fans a name, embrace shared symbols, make them feel like rock stars, and generate something to talk about.

Focus On Your One Percenters

In her 2007 book Citizen Marketers, Huba dismissed the argument that 20 percent of customers create 80 percent of a company’s value. In truth, according to Huba, most of the value that customers bring to the company comes from just one percent of the customer base. These one percenters are fully engaged customers who, among other characteristics, believe in the company and feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Gaga and her manager, Troy Carter, clearly understand and embrace the importance of the one percenters, Huba writes. Despite her 33 million followers on Twitter and 55 million likes on Facebook, Gaga and Carter decided that they needed to create a private space for the most die-hard superfans. Gaga and Carter created, a website in which Gaga communicates with her fans. There is, of course, a high level of interaction among the fans, but it is the direct communication between Gaga and the fans that makes this site unique. As one superfan explained, “Lady Gaga seems to go on [the site] on a regular basis. She’s updating all the time. A couple of weeks ago, she tweeted some fan art that she found on the site.”

Lead With Values

Gaga’s engagement goes further than simply interacting on social media. Gaga is passionate about helping young people feel worthy. She does this not just through her songs but also through her Born This Way foundation, “the mission of which,” Huba writes, “is to empower youth by offering mentoring and career development, and focusing on issues like self-confidence, well-being and anti-bullying.” Gaga thus exemplifies another lesson for business: Lead With Values.

With each business lesson, Huba ties Lady Gaga’s examples to one or two business case studies. One of the most interesting juxtapositions is between Gaga and Finnish housewares company Fiskars, which was founded in 1649. As Huba demonstrates, both the outrageous rock star and the centuries-old company understand how to build a community around their “products” by understanding customers’ passions.

Readers will quickly understand that Huba is no pop fan who decided to stretch her love for her favorite singer into a business case; the lessons in Monster Loyalty are insightful and practical. Nor is Lady Gaga just a young singer who happened to hit it big. From her classical music training to her careful study of Andy Warhol’s iconoclastic life to the deliberate decisions she makes in her causes and career choices (even the infamous meat dress achieved its political aim), Gaga is a savvy marketer and shrewd businessperson.

How to Have an Impact

Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to influence others to take up your passion? Do you want to have a positive effect on the people in your business, family and community?

Read what Chris Brogan and Julien Smith say about this desire to have an impact:

“We want you to think about how your tribe can come from anywhere. We want you to think about how to leave an impression on those who matter and help them gather around you. We want their passion and yours to come together so that you can leave your mark in the world. In short, we want you to have impact.”

In The Impact Equation, Brogan and Smith define the challenge as this “…what’s needed to be seen is a strong idea moved across a well-built platform and into the hands of relationships you’ve built and maintained.” So they came up with a formula to explain how to have impact.

Impact = C X (R + E + A + T + E)

(C) Contrast – When an idea hits a person, it has to feel like something similar to an idea he or she has already experienced, yet it has to be different enough to get noticed.

(R) Reach – The higher the number of people you can connect with, the more influential your idea can become.

(E) Exposure – If Reach is all about how many you connect with, Exposure is all about how often you connect to them.

(A) Articulation – high Articulation means an idea is like a sword, cutting through the fog of the brain and hitting you in exactly the right place to make you understand it.

(T) Trust – Trust is a clear factor in impact, but why do we trust someone? You need to know why and we’ll show you.

(E) Echo – Echo is all about the feeling of connection you give your reader, visitor or participant.

Obviously, there’s more to the formula then what I’ve described here. If you would like to have a greater impact around your passion, then please join us on February 20th to have a conversation with Chris and Julien.

This Soundview Live webinar is titled The Five Key Principles to Having an Impact and it’s FREE for all attendees. The authors will provide examples from their own lives and others to put some meat on the bones of this formula, and you can ask your questions along the way.

Do You Want to Think Like Zuck?

Despite the bad press that Mark Zuckerberg has received over the Winklevoss twins, Facebook privacy issues, and the disastrous IPO, Facebook is nevertheless an overwhelming success story. Zuckerberg has overcome the odds of moving from entrepreneur to CEO, and has broken the 1 billion user mark in the process.

Just consider some Facebook numbers: 1 billion users is one-seventh of the world’s population, the site houses 140.3 billion friendships, 600 million access the site on a mobile device, 52% of job seekers use Facebook to look for jobs and one in five have been sent a job lead via the site.

But there are also many touching stories of people who have been helped in meaningful ways through Facebook. Ekaterina Walter, in her book Think Like Zuck, tells some of those stories as she makes the case for what we can learn from Mark Zuckerberg.

Walter draws out the five “P’s” that are essential to Facebook’s success:

  • Passion
  • Purpose
  • Product
  • People
  • Partnerships

If you would like to hear more about the 5 P’s, and how these principles might bring your company added success, then please join us for our next Soundview Live webinar, The Five Business Secrets of Mark Zuckerberg with Ekaterina Walter. Bring your questions and fill your conference room for this intriguing look into Facebook’s success.

Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?



Bloggers Chris Brogan and Julien Smith burst onto the publishing scene in 2009 with their social media marketing best-seller Trust Agents. They return with a new book, The Impact Equation, which delves deeper into how to be heard and noticed in an age when everyone is connected.

Brogan and Smith know their subject. As the authors explain: “Anyone can write a blog post, but not everyone can get it liked 40,000 times on Facebook and not everyone can get 75,000 blog subscribers. We’ve done these things, but it isn’t because we’re special. It’s because we tried and failed… We tried again and again, and now we have an idea how to get from point A to point B faster because of it.”


The authors’ secret to getting from Point A to Point B is encapsulated in the equation:

Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

The “C” stands for Contrast, which is another way of saying positioning or differentiation. A successful contrast, according to the authors, offers both similarity and a noticeable difference.

The “R” stands for Reach, that is, how many people you connect with in as many channels as possible. At the heart of reach is your platform, which is basically, the authors write, “a combination of all the tools you use to reach others.”

The “E” stands for Exposure. This is a tricky area: Too much exposure and you just become more spam. The authors offer several strategies for building your exposure, including: start with like-minded people before trying to raise awareness; tell stories that make the buyer a hero; and help others first.

The “A” stands for Articulation. For the authors, the key with this attribute is to use small words and connect the dots.

The “T” stands for Trust. A prerequisite to successful impact is understanding why we trust others. Credibility, reliability and self-interest are the key elements that generate trust.

Finally, the “E” stands for Echo, which, the authors write, is the “feeling of connection you give your reader, visitor, or participant.” The best way to create this feeling of connection is to find common experiences and use these experiences to show people that you understand them.

Guiding Principles

The Impact Equation is divided into four sections that give a guiding set of principles for moving forward with your high-impact initiatives. First, begin with your goals, exactly what you are trying to accomplish. The next set of principles is built around the concept of ideas, and covers the Contrast and Articulation attributes. As mentioned above, platform, the next category of principles, is a key component of successful social media Reach and Exposure, while the attributes of Trust and Echo are grouped under network.

Every hour of every day around the world, people are striving to connect with each other. Most of them are no more than grains of sand on the beach, unnoticed by others. The Impact Equation offers solid advice from two veterans of the social media arena on how to break through.

How Businesses Are Using Video

I recently ran across a great article written by Jimm Fox of One Market Media on the many business uses of video. I’ve listed his main categories below, and you can check out the full article for more details.

  1. Customer Reference – video helps with collecting and showing customer testimonials, case studies and interviews.
  2. Product & Service Promotion – companies use video for product presentations, demonstrations and reviews.
  3. Corporate – corporations provide their company overview, executive highlights, facility tours and more with video.
  4. Training & Support – video is the latest thing in employee training, sales presentations and maintenance support.
  5. Internal Communication – video is now being used for business plans, company achievements, event coverage, employee orientation and health & safety education.
  6. Marketing – video promotions can take the form of commercials, viral video, content marketing and landing pages.
  7. PR/Community – video press releases are becoming more popular, along with video PR materials and community relation pieces.
  8. Events – at an event, presentations, roundtable discussions and Q&A with experts can all take place in video.
  9. Other – videos are also being used for recruitment, vlogs (video blogs) and research/surveys.

On the internet search side of the equation, research shows that a webpage with video is 30% more likely to end up on the first page of search results in Google then the same page without video. Google is now giving preference to video content in their search algorithm.

At Soundview, we are following this trend carefully, and have expanded our own offerings to include video. Our iPad format of each business book summary includes a video introduction from our Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dayton.  We now produce Executive Insights, a series of videos which interview active executives regarding key business skills. And we’re developing additional video content to be released soon.

Video increases engagement time, deepens emotional connections, and gives your company more trust and credibility with your customers and other stake-holders. And the cost of entry is becoming less every day with new technologies and web tools. If your company or organization is not currently using video, now is the time to jump in.