Monday, March 3, 2008

Reputation Management - a growing industry

For some reason that I have yet to figure out, the modest content on this blog gets scraped a lot.

(If you aren't familiar with scraping, a bot or individual lifts your content and plants it on their blog or website, with their advertisers, sometimes with credit, most times not).

I did a piece a few days ago that appeared within hours on another site, then the day after on a site that was specializing in something that, very simply, I would never endorse.

Earlier tonight, I read two articles that got me a little wired. One was a war of words, naming names, one site attempting to trash the other, and visa versa. The second piece was about a relatively newer social networking trend, 'negative marketing'. In essence, instead of promoting your own product or content, you quietly and methodically trash your competitors.

This is really nothing new, whether it's on the Internet or not. It's practically a mainstay of political campaigns.

It is a real issue on the 'net, in my view, particularly for young people that are busy building careers, some of whom put their name on a web post, comment, twitter (or wherever), without thinking much about it.

Real or not, you never know when this stuff will come back and you'll need to explain it or even worse, not get that great job or promotion.

Schools and corporations know how to search, and they do.

The result. We now have a growing industry within and industry. Reputation Management. There are numerous companies now promoting themselves in this niche, and larger SEM / SEO companies are venturing into the field as well.

Andy Beal (better known to some as Marketing Pilgrim) last week launched . Andy was ahead of the curve with this one.

It is, in fact, a Internet reputation 'tracking' service.

There's no doubt, that as web competition increases in select spaces and particularly in the blog and forum portion of the Internet, it's going to get worse before it gets better.

A sad reality, especially when most of us want the Internet to remain uncensored, for a variety of positive reasons.

For now, I suppose, teenagers, college students and others who haven't made their way yet in their career ambitions, should be conscious of what they post where. Whether it's words or photos.

By all means, stand by your convictions. Don't get paranoid, but keep in the back of your mind what you're putting out there and the fact, that most of this stuff is archived somewhere.

My first ever disclaimer : Despite an exchange some may notice on Twitter, I was not compensated in any way for this post. Whew!