Why is it so important for marketers to Google themselves and their brands?

How often do you Google yourself? Is it something that you’ve ever done? If you manage a brand online (and your personal profile counts for all intents and purposes) it’s something that you should be doing at least once in a while. It might seem vain and like a complete waste of time but I’d argue that it is anything but.

An online reputation is something that precedes you: as a PR professional if you’re pitching for new business or as a marketer if you’re spreading the word about a new product or service. It might seem like it’s impossible to control, but keep a beady eye on the first few pages of Google and you might be able to have more of an impact than you think.

Timely responses are the key. To give you a bad example from my own experience, I Googled myself very recently and not only found what I expected to be there (my Twitter profile, this blog, my LinkedIN profile and my contact details on clients’ press releases), I also discovered that I had been cited as an expert by web design agency Pure Innovations in an article about SEO:

Web design agency Pure Innovation referenced my SEO advice on their own site without my knowledge

The quotes came from a blog I wrote while I was working with digital agency Coast Digital. While it’s not a problem in this instance that they’ve referenced me without my consent (I’d rather they did that than simply pinch my words of wisdom), I would have liked to gain a backlink to the original article for some valuable “link juice” in exchange.

Considering this article was published in October of last year and I knew nothing about it until this week, I was very fortunate that it was a glowing endorsement. Had it been negative, I would have been completely unaware and it might have damaged my reputation a long time before I was able to do anything about it.

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What would your social network look like?

If you’ve got even half an ear to the ground, you won’t have failed to hear of the ongoing grumblings about Facebook and its privacy issues. While it doesn’t seem to have affected the site’s overall popularity or dominance in the social networking space, rather ironically its members have formed groups via the network itself protesting about the ongoing issues.

Facebook groups have been formed to protest against ongoing privacy issues

While Facebook still reigns supreme, I’ve been wondering how these ongoing issues might eventually manifest and whether the masses will desert the site. If they do, where will they go? Surely not back to the rather unfashionable MySpace or Bebo…

Twitter continues to win people over but I have serious doubts about whether it has the mainstream appeal to take over from Facebook. If my usage of the two sites is anything to go by, at a very basic level I use Facebook for personal networking and Twitter for professional networking. While there will always be some overlap, the distinction remains reasonably clear for me. For others it may differ hugely.

LinkedIN continues to operate in the background, attracting many professional networkers like myself but also a multitude of recruitment consultants looking to poach staff who have attractive online CVs. There’s no doubt that this can be off putting.

Chatroulette looked like it was going to gain some prominence when it first appeared but its webcam-based conversations seem to have scared too many potential users away since pornography threatens to rear its ugly head at every other click.

So what is the answer? Where would we all go if we chose to abandon Facebook? I’d like to think that there’s a new kind of social network on the horizon, one that combines the best bits from all of the others but also brings us something fresh and new.

My question to you is – which elements of your social networking couldn’t you live without and which would you happily wave goodbye to? Answers on a postcard please – or in the comments section below!

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Is it a good idea to stay friends with old clients and colleagues?

Yesterday was officially my last day working for Coast Digital. After spending just under a year with the online marketing agency and learning far more than I ever could have imagined about SEO, PPC, analytics, online usability testing, website design and build, I’m now looking forward to returning to work on some offline marketing projects – while retaining a healthy dose of online, too.

It’s always a difficult decision to leave an agency – particularly a small one. Not only do you leave behind the colleagues that you’ve spent days on end with, but it also means saying goodbye to the clients that you’ve worked alongside and who you will have, inevitably, learnt an awful lot from along the way.

I had the pleasure of catching up with some colleagues and friends from my first agency, Berkeley PR, last week and I’m so glad that I took the time to visit them. While many things have remained the same there, it was an absolute delight to hear about the new projects that are now occupying their days, their latest success stories and exciting changes in their personal lives too.

Now that we have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and a whole host of other networking tools at our disposal, keeping in touch with old colleagues has never been so easy. I don’t think that anyone should leave an agency on bad terms if it’s at all avoidable. After all, those colleagues and clients will have contributed an immeasuable amount to your professional achievements and development. Whether you choose to stay connected to your managers, your trainees, your suppliers or your clients, each one of those connections has played a huge role in the kind of employee that you are now and may determine the direction that your career takes in the future.

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