Brownstone Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Delete this post! How to monitor and manage your on-line rep

You’ve got your social media campaign happening. Twitter. Facebook. Your blog. You’ve decided who in your company is responsible for managing your social media. Things seem to be going well until – what’s this? For some reason search engines are kicking up a negative posting which mentions your business from another user at the top of searches or worse, somebody within your organisation has posted something negative about you which is now going viral not just internally but amongst your competitors and the blogosphere at large.

What to do?

It’s not just individuals that have to watch their on-line reputations. It can happen to the biggest and the best. Take for example Google engineer Steve Yegge, whose rant about Google+ and also Amazon and it’s CEO Jeff Bezos, went viral this week after he accidentally posted it on his public Google+ account instead of internally to other Google employees.

In his 5000 word diatribe, Yegge first directs his ire at his employer for their failure to understand platforms: “Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership (hi Larry, Sergey, Eric, Vic, howdy howdy) down to the very lowest leaf workers (hey yo),” Yegge wrote. “Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product.”

He then moves on to describe Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos as “a micromanager fanatic”.

While negative postings of this nature may not be as extreme as this – the fact it was posted by a Google employee with a blog following of over 2000 undoubtedly added to the interest and the capacity of the story to quickly spread, the fact is that rants and inappropriate comments by employees past and present as well as those posted by customers and users can have a huge impact on the perception clients and customers are forming when making the decision to do business. So, if the first result on a Google search of your product or company yields a negative result, what can be done?

‘The thing about social media in particular is that its constantly being updated,’ explains Dave Jabbie. ‘Search engines will be looking for certain key words regarding your business and organisation. While you won’t be able to remove a negative posting what you can do is effectively ‘push’ it further down the search results simply by using the same social media that generated it in the first place. By updating your status more frequently, updating your website or even by opening up new social media accounts this will quickly push down a negative posting. The key is to react quickly – once you can push something off the first page of a search result it has much less ability to cause a negative perception as many users tend to gravitate towards the top and usually the newest entries.’

Obviously if the company is facing a serious problem then crisis management is called for but anyone in business knows that while one tries to keep all ones clients happy, sometimes this just isn’t possible.

‘There’s always going to be the customer with an axe to grind or even an employee that puts up an ill-advised posting. Obviously if its your own social media account then damage mitigation is much easier provided few users have seen it. One example recently was a client who accidentally uploaded a blooper onto their YouTube account where they used some colourful language. Fortunately they realised what they had done and managed to remove it – but not before one person had viewed it. let’s hope they saw the funny side of it!’.

Pushing negative postings and comments from other users down the search ratings is therefore a question of constantly monitoring what others may be writing about you. ‘Ask yourself this: when did I last Google my own business?’ says Jabbie. ‘The thing is – it’s the last thing most of us think of doing – why should we? But if you’re not minding your web presence then who is? Of course it’s your agency’s job to insure your website is kicking up at the top of a search but the other stuff? More than ever we need to be mindful of our on-line rep.’

As for Steve Yegge who has described his rant as ‘the Great-Grandaddy of Reply-All Screw Ups’, he is now charged with finding solutions to the problems he outlined in his posting. He has also since referred to Bezos in a new posting as an “incredibly smart person, arguably a first-class genius.” Probably a good move Steve in case you don’t find those solutions for your present employer and need to go looking for a new one.


Just the Job – in Memory of Steve

No blog which deals with issues around technology, business, design or communication could let the death of Steve Jobs pass without comment. Along with Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Steve Jobs is undoubtedly one of the visionaries who revolutionised our lives handing us the tools which have expanded and enabled our ways of communicating while pushing the boundaries of design ethos. Apple under Steve Jobs’ leadership made what can only be described as nerd tools, sexy.

Jobs shared not only his vision with us all, but also his thoughts. In memory of Steve we’d like to share 25 of the best of those with you here.

1. “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

2. “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

3. “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

4. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

5. “We’ve never worried about numbers. In the marketplace, Apple is trying to focus the spotlight on products, because products really make a difference. … You can’t con people in this business. The products speak for themselves.”

6. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

7. “We didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.”

8. “That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex.”

9. “When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there.”

10. “A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.”

11. “The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.”

12. “We’re gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make ‘me, too’ products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it’s always the next dream.”

13. “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

14. “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

15. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

16. “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM (NYSE: IBM.US) was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money.. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

17. “My self-identity does not revolve around being a businessman, though I recognize that is what I do. I think of myself more as a person who builds neat things. I like building neat things. I like making tools that are useful to people. I like working with very bright people. I like interacting in the world of ideas, though somehow those ideas have to be tied to some physical reality. One of the things I like the most is dropping a new idea on a bunch of incredibly smart and talented people and then letting them work it out themselves. I like all of that very, very much.”

18. “I wish [Bill Gates] the best, I really do. I just think he and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT.US) are a bit narrow. He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”

19. “The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient. But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea. And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

20. “My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are never done by one person; they are done by a team of people.”

21. “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.”

22. “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”

23. “In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”

24. “I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list … That didn’t look so good, but then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And a man on a bicycle blew the condor away. That’s what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”

And finally our particular favourite:-

25. “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed saying we’ve done something wonderful … that matters to me.”

Steve Jobs went to bed knowing he had done something wonderful that had changed millions of lives. Goodnight, Steve. Good job.