Episode 51: Andy Beal, author of "Radically Transparent" on Creating Your Personal Brand, 26 DIY Reputation Management Freebies and Twitter as Mentor
Andy debuted "Radically Transparent," his book on online reputation management, this March. He said writing it pushed his edge harder than anything he's done so far in his life. It shows. This is a great book, chock full of step-by-step instructions and applicable examples that culminates in a "7 Step Action Plan" to execute your strategic goals for creating, understanding, managing, growing and if necessary, repairing the online reputation of you and/or your company.
Andy balances his advice with both personal and professional wisdom. From offering a "how to develop your personal brand" with "DIY reputation monitoring" for the guerilla marketer in all of us to more business-oriented objectives including the specific steps to execute a social media-optimized press release and how to leverage a videogenic CEO.
One of the gems of this interview is Andy's explicit instructions for targeting top bloggers in your space with your story. How can you tell who the best bloggers are for your news? Which bloggers might be interested in covering you? The secret in finding your most aligned targets is through the beauty of cross-tabbing data-points. Compare blog site traffic on Compete.com. Get a vibe for "citations" and the level of respect a blogger engenders from traditional media by checking if they've been quoted via Google News. Use Google Search to see which bloggers rank for your target keywords and phrases. Check the number of in-bound links a blogger gets and from whom they get them on Yahoo! Site Explorer. Type in your keywords and phrases and sort by "Authority" on Technorati. These are just some of the ideas Andy gives for helping you get your arms around the tricky process of targeting bloggers as a media channel.
Andy does a marvelous job explaining his new service, Trackur, which is like Google Alerts on anti-oxidant, pomegranate infused martinis. (Yum!) With Trackur's online reputation tracking technology you can keep track of any web content that mentions your name. Not just your personal name, but your executives, your company brands, and even your competition. And instead of filling up your inbox with Alerts, you get an optional dashboard, filters and all kinds of trend analysis.
Twitter - what would DishyMix be without a mention of Twitter and/or Facebook? Andy leverages the collective knowledge or "crowd sourcing" of his 2,500 followers to learn about the market, test his ideas and promote his book and blog, MarketingPilgrim. Then he wraps up the show by taking us on a mental tour of his favorite spot in Hawaii. Sigh. I can feel the tropical air brushing my skin right now.
SUSAN BRATTON: Welcome to Dishy Mix. I’m your host Susan Bratton. Hey, thanks so much for joining me on today’s show. We’re going to meet Andy Beal. He’s an author, a blogger and a marketing consultant. And on today’s show we’re going to talk about online reputation management, love as the killer app., Twitter as mentor, the three most amazing people in Web 2.0 (according to Andy), and Hawaii. So, get some aloha spirit going on and please meet Andy Beal.
ANDY BEAL: I think the toughest thing for a lot of people is that they have the expertise and they have the experience..ah..but they’ve never really applied basic marketing principles to themselves. And so I see a lot of companies where the CEO is very talented, he’s got a 200 person firm and the company name is well known, but the CEO has very much been in the shadows. As marketers we..we absolutely need to promote the company or the blog or whatever it is that kind of is appropriate to our stage in our careers at this point in time. But I think it is always a good idea to continue to promote yourself as your own personal brand. I would definitely recommend just sticking with the mainstream tools that are out there. I know YouTube allows you these days to upload videos directly from your webcam, you don’t have to record them first. Even Flickr now lets you record videos on top of images. So kind of stick with the main players they’re usually are easier to use, they usually have a very refined uploading process and make it easier for you to get your content out there and syndicated. For me, when I am looking at top bloggers, I am looking at a number of different factors. I’m looking at their authority in services such as Technorati, which tends to show me the number of back links from other bloggers. I would also search for the person on Google or search for industry terms on Google, and look at if there’s any bloggers that show up there because then that tells me that that blogger has such a popular resource that they are even raking well in just regular Google results.
SUSAN BRATTON: Welcome Andy.
ANDY BEAL: Hi Susan. Thanks for having me on the show.
SUSAN BRATTON: It’s my pleasure. I actually saw you speak at South by Southwest and I really liked what you had to say, Andy, and I said “Note to self, have Andy Beal on Dishy Mix.” You’re right up our ally. You, just for the listeners who may not know you, you’re the blogger at Marketing Pilgrim.com.
ANDY BEAL: That’s right.
SUSAN BRATTON: You have a really you started out as kind of an SEO guy, and you’ve moved much more now into online reputation management. You have your business blog, you’ve just released your book Radically Transparent, which I’ve read and we’re going to talk about on the show, and you’ve just launched an online reputation management service called Trackur.com. So you are the guy to talk to about reputation management.
ANDY BEAL: Yeah..you’ve..you did a good job with highlighting my bio there. I should get you to write my professional bio for my website.
SUSAN BRATTON: (laughs) Yeah, because I’ve got plenty of time for bio writing.
ANDY BEAL: (laughs)
SUSAN BRATTON: I do like to do them though. They’re fun, actually to write bios for people. It’s..If you interview people and you can pull a lot out of them, it can be really fun. So, one of the things I want to talk about on today’s show is developing your personal brand online and then understanding how to track it. I want to talk a little bit about social media press releases. I want to use…I want to talk about using multimedia to engage your audience. I want to get into some really specific details about using Technorati and Google to find top bloggers in your space because I think that is confusing for a lot of people. I want to talk about your opinion of Facebook vs. MySpace for corporate pages and fan pages. And, if we get to it, also, I think it would be really helpful..Oh, I definitely want to talk about the do-it-yourself, the reputation monitoring, both for personal reasons, your personal brand, and corporate reputation monitoring, so we are going to talk about Trackur. And then I want to, if we have time, just to take a quick vignette at the end and do the’ Seven Step Action Plan, Setting Your Strategic Goals’, because I think that is so good. That’s, to me, the best part of the whole book for Radically Transparent. So, do you think we can get through as much of that as possible?
ANDY BEAL: We can certainly give it a shot.
SUSAN BRATTON: Alright, good. Well, and one of the things that you can do is..because the show is..I do a transcript, so you can reference URLs as you go and use that as kind of a short hand. Because this is an issue that I think I want to cover as much as we can on the show.
ANDY BEAL: Ok, sounds good.
SB : Good. So first of all, I want the Andy Beal developing your personal brand story. How would you set about explaining to someone who is maybe..a web celebrity wannabe or something like that, how they can develop their personal brand online.
ANDY BEAL: I think the toughest thing for a lot of people is that they have the expertise and they have the experience but they’ve never really applied basic marketing principles to themselves. And so I see a lot of companies where the CEO is very talented, he’s got a 200 person firm and the company name is well known, but the CEO has very much been in the shadows. And so, in its essence what you need to do is just take the same kind of branding and marketing that you would normally do for a company and for your products and apply it to yourself. And for a lot of people that does mean being..putting their modesty aside, and, basically talking about their accomplishments and really just putting themselves out there and trying to establish themselves as, hey, I’m an expert in this particular field. And much as the same way as you would send out a press release or do some kind of content to promote your brand or your company. It’s applying those very similar practices to your own personal name.
SUSAN BRATTON: So, you’d develop a website for yourself, that would be the basic foundation. You’d say “I want to be known for…”, almost from a keyword perspective, “ I want to be known for..”, in your case online reputation management, right?
ANDY BEAL: Absolutely, yeah. Website is the very first thing that just about everybody should have. And that should be a website that matches up with their name. And then obviously they can brand their profession around that particular website. But if you start off with your name... So, for example, I have andybeal.com and right now I’m branding that as an expert in online reputation management, but six years ago, that was brand more toward an expert in search engine optimization. And so as I’ve changed my career focus I’m able to change the branding message that goes along side my website. But, fortunately, I’m always going to stay Andy Beal, at least that’s my plan.
SUSAN BRATTON: Yeah, now I did something, I’ve been consulting for many, many years before I launched Personal Life Media in the last year. And I had a company consulting name Sendara, so I had susanbratton.com redirected to Sendara.com and over the years as my functions have evolved I’ve evolved sendara.com.
ANDY BEAL: Mmm-hmm. And that’s the thing, I think that, as marketers we absolutely need to promote the company or the blog or whatever it is that kind of is appropriate to our stage in our careers at this point in time. But I think it’s always a good idea to continue to promote yourself as your own personal brand. And so whether that is your own personal website on a dot-com domain or whether that’s creating social networking profiles or whether it’s podcasts, that changes its content as you develop your career, it is important to get your name out there. And studies have shown that, for example, consumers will look at the reputation of the CEO, and they will very much closely tie that to the reputation of a company. So, it is important to make sure that if you are the leader in a company, that you do have a strong reputation because outside of your own company brand the next place that your potential customers are going to look is your own personal reputation.
SUSAN BRATTON: Now can you think of any reason why every single person listening to this show, right now, shouldn’t have a website for themselves, no matter who they work for.
ANDY BEAL: No, I mean there’s really not a reason to dip your toe in the pool and, kind of, build a website. I mean, you can control what you put on it, so even if it’s just your..just a very simple resume, go ahead and do that, if it’s just details of your family, go ahead and do that. Because you want to try and present yourself in a positive light and a website is a way to do that. And in the absence of any content that you’ve created, there’s a huge void that will get filled by content that other people have created about you. So, you, at the very least, want to have your own official ‘Here I am, here’s what I stand for’ website out there. Um..You don’t necessarily need to keep it updated, you don’t have to make it a blog format, where you’re posting every single day. But you should have something that’s basically your…your fingerprint on the web.
SUSAN BRATTON: So you could have Flickr pages, you could have a FaceBook page, a MySpace page, you could have..you could have your Twitter handle be your name, you could be on FriendFeed, you could be Poster, Inspire, or Gather, or TBD, or YahooAnswers, or linked in answers, you’d have your linked in profile. There are a lot of places that you can go. There’s, oh gosh you could upload videos on seemic.com, or Viddler. There are a lot of things you can do even if you don’t want to create your own podcast, which is a big step. There are a million places you could go now in addition to your own website to post yourself. Um..There are companies now who are starting to manage that, like mylifeonline or myonlinebrand or others where you are starting to have all these profiles that you need to manage. What do you think about the direction of that, like getting out and posting yourself everywhere so you at least have a presence and you’re creating a persona. Do you think that’s a good idea?
ANDY BEAL: I think to a certain extent. And certainly in Radically Transparent we outline the profiles that we feel are best suited towards personal branding and those are going to be the ones that are most popular: YouTube, Flickr, Facebook. The ones that have a large audience and reach the masses. That’s where you want to spend your time and effort. But my philosophy has always been that whenever there’s a new service that comes out, a new social network, or social tool is to go ahead and register for that particular website and register for the brand that you want to promote. So, in my case, I pretty much register either andybeal as my user name or Marketing Pilgrim as the user name. And I do that even if I have no intention of being an active participant in the community. So, for example, with FriendFeed, that everybody’s talking about it doesn’t really serve my need right now, but in the future it might become a very important tool, so the moment I learned about it, I went up..went ahead and signed up for the..for an account so at the very least I have my branding secured and if ever I decide I want to move forward with that at least I’ve got that set up and ready to go.
SUSAN BRATTON: Yeah, I think that is very wise advice and one of my very favorite things in the whole book, Radically Transparent, was going through that laundry list and I thought I’d signed up for everything, ‘cause I do the same thing, I do a name land grab on any new service in case it takes off. You had few in there that I didn’t know about. I had to go online and dig them up, so I thought it was a very comprehensive and well produced list of places you should consider having at least your name space, if you will.
ANDY BEAL: Right, and we also kind of caution in there as well that readers need to keep an eye on what’s the latest buzz, what ‘s the latest tool that’s out there. Because since the book’s come out..I mean, it published in March, even since that point, there’s been new services, such as FriendFeed, that weren’t around in the last three months, so keep an eye on it. Don’t beat yourself over the head if you can’t get to every single social network, but as you come across one and you see, maybe, top bloggers talking about it, then you might want to go ahead and register.
SUSAN BRATTON: So, now this is a hybrid question that really can go toward your personal brand and/or it can go toward creating an online reputation for a company. You were talking about the importance of the CEO’s reputation online as it relates to the corporate brand. How would you recommend using multimedia to engage your audience today? What do you think are the best services to use and the best frequency, and a couple of different options that we might have?
ANDY BEAL: Um..well, with multimedia…I think that, again, unless you’re really willing to dive in and put together your own studio and buy lots of sophisticated equipment and have the software to host it yourself, then I would definitely recommend just sticking with the mainstream tools that are out there. Um..I know YouTube allows you these days to upload videos directly from your webcam, you don’t have to record them first. Even Flickr now lets you record videos on top of images, so kind of stick with the main players. They’re usually are easier to use, they usually have a very refined uploading process and make it easier for you to get your content out there and syndicated.
SUSAN BRATTON: So what do you think about things like a Q&A with your CEO, that’s kind of a homegrown thing that you could post up on YouTube. Do you think it’s worth doing that? Do you think that there’s..I’m leading you with my question here, but I think..I would say, and you can agree or disagree, but there’s a transparency, which is so important, and an authenticity to just getting it out there without it being perfect. That that’s almost..possibly will resonate with customers more than a slickly produced video.
ANDY BEAL: Yeah, I think that customers definitely crying out for a transparent, if you like, a transparent conversation where it’s not canned speech and it’s not pre-prepared statements that have gone through PR and the legal department. They want to connect directly and have a conversation. That said, I definitely wouldn’t say that every CEO should be…have a microphone thrust in front of them. Because if you have a CEO that’s shy and not very good in front of the camera or in front of a microphone. Then don’t..if you put pressure on them to do that, it’s not going to be putting their best foot forward, and they are definitely not going to feel like they are able to communicate in the way that they want to, and it will just come across as being awkward and it could end up doing some more harm.
SUSAN BRATTON: Certainly if you have CEO that has some charisma, that’s a really good way to leverage them is to take a lot of video and then edit it beautifully, I would say, right?
ANDY BEAL: Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. You can do some creative editing. But certainly, yeah, if you’ve got a.. if you’ve got a CEO that’s a natural in front of the camera that is very enigmatic and charismatic and is able to just kind of do a really good job of presenting the company message, then why keep them held behind a canned statement in a press release. You need to get them in front of a camera. You may not necessarily be able to get CBS news to come and do an interview with them, but you can certainly set up a $300 camera and do a pretty comprehensive job of interviewing them yourself, upload it to YouTube and a couple of other video services and put it on your own website as well and now you’ve got this multimedia content that represents your CEO in a positive light, represents your business in a positive light and also might reach an audience that that press release itself wouldn’t normally reach.
SUSAN BRATTON: Well, you’ve given me the perfect segue. Before we go to the break, I want to briefly talk about social media press releases and then we’ll come back and explore that some more and talk about finding top bloggers in our space. I’ll give you a minute..I’m just going to put you under the gun Andy, and ask you for an example of how a social media press release might work in this situation. I have three new shows that are coming on to the Personal Life media network. One is called the New Man, one is called Conscious Business, and the third is called Buddhist Geeks. And I want to make an announcement that these three existing shows with over 100 episodes of archived content are coming onto my network. So, in the past I could have written a press release and put it over the wire and maybe called a few of the people I know in the industry and ask them if they’d consider writing about it. What should I do now? That’s the old way, what’s the new way?
ANDY BEAL: Well, maybe I can kind of give you some ideas from my own personal experience with my...with my own software, which is Trackur, that I’ve just…we’ve just recently rolled out a huge upgrade to the service and it was a pretty significant announcement. But I decided that instead of sending out a press release that may or may not get in front of journalists, who may or may not be my target audience, what I did was I went directly to a couple of top bloggers that are in the Technorati top 100 and …and provided them detailed information, gave one of them the actual scoop on it. So I said to them, “Look, if you can write about this, I’ll give you the scoop, I won’t even send a press release out.” And honestly, that’s done more in terms of spreading the buzz and getting people talking about Trackur than if I had just sent a press release out and kept my fingers crossed. And so, by tapping into the conversation, by finding the audience that goes to these blogs that is highly relevant to the Trackur service, I was able to generate a lot more buzz for the service than if I’d issued a press release. So I definitely think that either issue a press release just so that you cover the bases. And then focus on some blogger outreach and some social media outreach or just ignore the press release and go straight for the blogger outreach. Um…I think the worst thing to do would be just to issue the press release and go down the old road because even if you make a press release social media optimized, which we are going to talk about, it’s still not necessarily going to get in front of all of your target audience.
SUSAN BRATTON: Alright, let’s take a break. I want to thank my sponsors. You and I both know, you can’t do it without sponsors. When we come back I want you to go through the very specific components of a social media press release. I know they’re all optional, but let’s go through them one by one, almost a checklist. OK?
ANDY BEAL: Ok, sounds good.
SUSAN BRATTON: That sounds good. Stay tuned, we’re with Andy Beal he’s the author of a new book about online reputation management called Radically Transparent, blogger at Marketing Pilgrim, and he will be back to walk us through social media press release 101. Stay tuned, we’ll be right back.
SUSAN BRATTON: We’re back and it’s Andy Beal. Andy is with Marketing Pilgrim, recently wrote Radically Transparent. I just read it and thoroughly enjoyed, not only every step of the book, but also how you took personal and corporate online reputation management and gave us a working plan for our own brands when we were done reading the book. So, Andy, great job with that. I highly recommend this book. It’s funny, I..as soon as I was done with it I already recommended it to three people that I knew could really use this information. I didn’t see anywhere else in the way that you’ve put it together. Thank you.
ANDY BEAL: Well, thank you for saying that, it’s very kind. And certainly when I got together with Dr. Judy Strauss, we wanted to create a book that not only introduced the whole topic of online reputation management, but we did want to provide the first blueprint of this is how you can actually implement it yourself. Not just high level thinking, but an actual here you go, here’s everything you need in order to implement an online reputation management campaign.
SUSAN BRATTON: Well, And I..one of the things that I noticed about the book was that, I’m a big social media user, I do SEO PR, I put out social media press releases, I am doing this in real time. And when I read your book I felt like it was in real time. I didn’t feel like it was at a high level for people who didn’t know what they were doing. I felt like, wow, this could be read by someone who really isn’t comfortable, or who’s like me who is just throwing themselves in it and creating a mess every day. Because it’s all being made up as we go, right? And I really liked that it was something that I could recommend to someone who wasn’t quite living and breathing it like I was, but I also got so much out of it. It’s a very, very timely book. So thank you for that.
ANDY BEAL: Thank you.
SUSAN BRATTON: It was nice because it was, like, all the things I’m doing, but all in one book in an organized way. You created a framework for thinking about how to do this, unlike anything I’ve seen, which was very good. So, social media press releases, we promised we’d talk about that. Give us the bullet list of what that means, compare that to what we think we know is a press release.
ANDY BEAL: Well, when you have a…when you have a typical press release, you’ve got the headline, you’ve got the dateline, introduction, body and then you kind of close it with the boiler plate. And it’s been the same format for, gosh, about 100 years now. And so, the social media optimized press release is…is basically, it’s still somewhat theoretical because there’s not a lot of businesses that have adopted it completely. But the bottom line is this, is that there’s a lot of social media tools out there, lots of different social networks that people participate in and why not take advantage of that..of those networks and those channels to get your press release circulated beyond the news desks of traditional journalists and potentially reach, not only social media journalists, like bloggers, but even actually reach the inbox or the social network of your actual target customer directly. And so that’s the premise of the social media optimized press release is to provide the tools and the different options to kind of help that message get a little bit further. And some of those things could be just high level..such as, just put in some the social bookmarking links on there so that people can add it to del.icio.us or they can submit it to Dig or they can say “Hey, look at this new announcement from this company. I think it’s really cool.” Other ideas as well, is just kind of like linking back to your RSS feed so that if a journalist wants to keep track of all your future announcements, you don’t want to risk that they rely upon just your press releases each time, give them a link back to your RSS feed so they can see it. And lots of other different things as well that really just kind of just help a press release to kind of just provide…it’s almost like your kind of…your feeding your most appropriate content to the reader. So, instead of just a long monotonous kind of press release that drones on, it’s in smaller chunks and it has links to video content, podcast content, it’s got all the images they can download for logos right there and then, and it’s got RSS and they can add it do del.icio.us and they can post it on Dig and just really facilitate the spreading of that information.
SUSAN BRATTON: One of the things that I recently saw in a social media press release was multiple quotes. So one, I liked the ability to have a person with three or four different quotes that the blogger or journalist could potentially use and I also liked the idea of pre-creating three or four versions of quotes that don’t go in the release, but are available kind of as your talking to a blogger or journalist “Hey, I have these set aside. If you want one, no one else will have this.”
ANDY BEAL: Right. And that’s a good idea because the more information you can provide a journalist that is in the same style of how they are going to write the story, the more likely they’re going to use it.
SUSAN BRATTON: Yes.
ANDY BEAL: What I always try to do is try to give them a quote that is not just the normal sound bite that’s in a press release but is something that’s going to really appeal to their readers and that they can actually use. And likewise, when I’m talking about the features or I’m talking about a particular announcement I’m trying to think about who’s likely to write about this and writing it in a way so that really what I want them to do is cut and paste right out of the press release because that way they are using my terminology, my keywords, my buzz, and putting that into their article. So, if you can kind of do that then that’s really going to help you get your message across.
SUSAN BRATTON: Oh, right. You can also tag your release with keywords.
ANDY BEAL: Yeah, absolutely. Go ahead and just let them know these are the tags that we think this press release is relevant to. And so, that certainly helps as well with, for example, Technorati tagging. It helps Technorati kind of figure out where the press release should be, and kind of just helps even just as a first glance, just helps someone that’s looking at the press release and deciding if it’s got..if it’s of interest to them or likewise if they submit it to de.licio.us and they’re trying to think, “Well, how should I tag this, what are the relevant key words.” If you’re providing that information to them they’re more likely to tag it with a keyword that is more relevant to you and is going to serve you better than some obscure keyword that they happen to think is relevant to your announcement.
SUSAN BRATTON: Well, and one of the things that I liked about the book, Radically Transparent, is that you show social media releases in here and you actually give examples about how to do all the tagging and the bookmarking and things. So, that was really helpful. I also want to ask what your opinion is about SEOPR because a lot of times if you actually try to write your press release that you are going to send out over the wire to have reasonable keyword density then it doesn’t read very well. What I’ve been doing is I’ve been pushing out an SEOPR optimized release over the wire so that it gets, hopefully, picked up by Google, if not Yahoo news, but then the one that I send out to bloggers, to journalists, and post on my site is the ones that’s written for humans. Is that the wrong way to do it? Is that a reasonable way? What do you recommend?
ANDY BEAL: I don’t think it’s necessarily the wrong way. I think that some traditionalists would argue that only ever send out one press release because if the same press release in different formats lands in the inbox of the same journalist then he… it may not present quite the best image that you’ve sent it out twice even though it’s slightly different. But I’m more of just a realist, and that is whatever works for you works for you. Certainly, I definitely do agree with you, you can have the risk of over optimizing the press release. And so I always…
SUSAN BRATTON: It’s almost like you have to over optimize for it to be optimized. I mean, optimizing means that it’s got to be…you have to say your podcasting advertizing 63 times in the first hundred words, ya know what I mean?
ANDY BEAL: Right. And honestly here’s the thing with any kind of content writing, you’ve got those that are kind of stuck in the old way of ‘it’s got to be keyword density, and you have to mention it X number of times’, and really that’s not the case. What you really want to do is to get your message across. You want to get your marketing message across. And the thing with optimizing your press releases for the search engines is to not go overboard and mention your keyword five times in a hundred words. But it’s to just be aware of the fact of are there any opportunities to switch out where you say his or her or the product or the service and replace it with something that is a little bit more keyword rich, whether it’s the name of the CEO, so that it shows up in a Google search for his name as opposed to saying ‘the CEO’, or if it’s saying ‘reputation management services’ as opposed to ‘the services’. Just look for those opportunities. And then lastly, just read it out loud. Whenever I do any kind of optimization for content, the rule of thumb is read it out loud. And as long as if flows when you read it out loud, you’ll know that there’s not too many keywords in there.
SUSAN BRATTON: Got it. Alright, that’s good advice. Let’s talk about using Technorati and Google to find top bloggers in your space. I find it very difficult to this rating system with Technorati, what are you…also, Compete, using Compete as a possibility to look at the traffic of blogs. How are you triangulating who the top blogs are in a market?
ANDY BEAL: Right. Well, I think you know, certainly with Technorati, I like their tool because you can go in an you can type the name…type one of your keywords and industry related words and Technorati will show you who’s discussing that, but then it will also allow you to resort those results based upon the authority of the blogger. So, instead of looking at just what’s fresh, you can look at…ok, I’m interested in all those that are talking about the iPhone, but show me in the order of who has the most authority. And what Technorati will then do is base that on who has the most other bloggers linking to them, so who has the most back links pointing to that blogger. And so what that would give you an idea of who is the most influential, who has the largest audience. So that’s one way of doing it. The thing to be careful of is, you gotta compare the audience size, you gotta compare the influence within your own industry. So, for example, going to the Technorati Top 100, unless your company lives in a very high tech space, you may not necessarily want to contact anyone on the Technorati Top 100, because, yes, they are the most popular bloggers in the world, but if you’re selling blue widgets and none of those bloggers ever discuss blue widgets, it’s not an influential space for you to be in. You’ve got to kind of do a mixture of…
SUSAN BRATTON: A contextual filter.
ANDY BEAL: Yeah, exactly. You need to find the most popular bloggers, but the most popular bloggers for your industry.
SUSAN BRATTON: So, what about using traffic numbers from Compete on top blogs is that another way to triangulate or what else do you do?
ANDY BEAL: For me, when I am looking at top bloggers, I am looking at a number of different factors. I’m looking at their authority in services such as Technorati, which tends to show me the number of back links from other bloggers. I would also search for the person on Google or search for industry terms on Google, and look at if there’s any bloggers that show up there because then that tells me that that blogger has such a popular resource that they are even ranking well in just regular Google results. I would look at the number of overall back links pointing to a blogger, so using a tool such as Yahoo site explorer, I can put the URL of a blogger into that tool and look at all of their back links pointing to that site and see just how popular they are. Compete is a great way to compare different…traffic for different bloggers within the same space. Obviously, no blogger is really just going to publish their Google analytics for everybody to see, but the next best thing is to use a service such as Compete and get an idea to how much traffic is coming to this blogger compared to another blogger that is in the same space. But then I would look at things such as citations, I would look at putting the person’s name into Google news and seeing if they get quoted by the New York Times. Because it may be somebody that doesn’t necessarily have a huge audience but that’s because their blog is brand new. But they’re very much well respected and get quoted in mainstream media. And then, probably as well, I would look at, oh gosh, just looking at the number of comments that they have on each of their posts because that will give you an idea as to how interactive the site is. Lots of different things that you can do just to get an idea for is this a blogger that is influential in my space and if they talk about my product, they talk about my company, either positively or negatively, is it going to have a large reach to our potential customer.
SUSAN BRATTON: Well, I’m going to leave the ‘how you finally, once you finally have your target list, approach a blogger’ to our listeners and encourage them to read your book because I want to ask you a couple of other questions. But you do cover that very well in your book as well. So, I want to talk about just reputation monitoring in general whether it’s for your personal brand or your company. You have Trackur, which is your new service, and there are three tiers of service that you can buy and it’s based on the number of keywords that you’re tracking. There’s Trackur, there’s Google Alerts, what else is there? Explain the difference between what Trackur does and what Google Alerts does.
ANDY BEAL: Without it sounding like a sales pitch?
SUSAN BRATTON: Well, yes, sure. You can do that.
ANDY BEAL: Trackur is most often compared to Google Alerts because Google Alerts is free. But the downside of Google Alerts is that it’s restricted to Google contents, it’s only the things that Google can find. There’s very limited management over those results and they can pretty much only be sent to you by email. Trackur is a little bit more sophisticated, we have an easy to use dashboard that keeps track of all the results that come in. We’ve got sophisticated filters that you can filter out results that are not relevant or really drill in if you’re interested in news that relates to rumors regarding the new Apple MacBook Pro and you can really drill into those particular keywords. And then you can get your results as well by email or RSS and there’s lots of other tools that go with it. So, you’ve got those two and those are at the very low end. I mean, Google Alerts is free, but Trackur starts at just $18.00 a month, so it’s very much low end. If you’ve got a large budget there are plenty of companies that will provide sophisticated analysis and even kind of give you more feedback as to who the blogger is, what their audience reach is, do things such as sentiment analysis, and that is automate the process of telling you whether a comment about your product or your business is positive or negative. But for anybody that’s listening or just wants to dip their toe and they want something that’s low cost, certainly Trackur is there, Google Alerts is there, but I put up a comprehensive list on Marketing Pilgrim and I have a list of 26 different free tools that you can use to monitor everything from blogs through to trademark infringement, videos, images, you name it, if you’ve got the time and you would rather invest the time and you don’t mind kind of cobbling it together, you can do it all for free. So, there’s a list there as well that people can refer to.
SUSAN BRATTON: Oh, that sounds really good. I will make sure that I also link to that page from DishyMix.com, my blog. I’ll write about that and link to it. So that people can find it that way too. Because they might, or might not, remember Marketing Pilgrim. I hope they’ll remember DishyMix by now. So, that is very helpful, the reputation monitoring and the 26 free tools and Trackur. And you also offer a free trial on Trackur, you didn’t mention that, so I will. You don’t have to pay $18.00, you can go in and actually try Trackur and set it up and see what it looks like, with the dashboard and the filters and things like that. So, that’s a good way to start.
ANDY BEAL: Absolutely, a 14 day free trial.
SUSAN BRATTON: And frankly, the one thing that I didn’t realize about Trackur that I think is good is that I get tired of all those Google Alerts in my email all the time.
ANDY BEAL: Right.
SUSAN BRATTON: Ya know, it really fills up your inbox and if this is something that you need to do anyway, then having it on Trackur where you can just go look at a dashboard is so much more helpful. That was a point that I actually missed in the usage that I think is beneficial.
ANDY BEAL: Right. And we tried to build the dashboard so if you’re familiar with Google Reader or gmail or something like that, it’s a nice Ajax enabled dashboard that as you see a result you can click on it and get a snippet of what was said, you can bookmark it and read it later, you can send it to a friend, so if you see an important blogger talking about your product you can email that particular link directly to your CEO, all within Trackur. So, yeah, we give you something you can’t get elsewhere. You’ve got the traditional email alerts, plus you’ve got RSS, if you’d like to get your alerts by RSS, but you could also just log into Trackur everyday and you could get the benefit of all the tools there.
SUSAN BRATTON: Nice, that’s great. So, I want to…I have a few personal questions that I want to end the show with. But what I was wondering is if you could just go through, in Radically Transparent, the Seven Step Action Plan on page 345, you have essentially listed what those seven steps are. Could you just speak to those seven steps very briefly? Anybody who’s interested is going to go buy the book and the $20.00 or whatever it costs to buy the book is totally worth it if this is appealing, but just go over them, briefly, so people understand what they’re getting into if they buy the book and they want to follow the plan.
ANDY BEAL: So, we wanted to give everybody an action plan so that it ties everything that was in the previous chapters together, so that they don’t sit there and go “Ok, well I’ve got all this information, what do I do?” So, the Seven Steps, I mean, basically step one is to identify your stakeholders and by stakeholders we mean anybody that has an influence over your reputation. That’s identifying the most influential bloggers, but also identifying your traditional journalists, who your vocal employees are, your spokespersons for the company, anybody that has a stake in your brand because you need to know who these people are. Step two is to conduct a reputation audit, and that is if you’re going to implement a campaign you need to know where your starting from, so what do your Google results look like, how many negative are on there, how many positive are on there, how many people are linking to you from Technorati, how many videos are there on YouTube. So, really just kind of getting an understanding of what your current reputation situation is. Step three, is to basically look at your own existing assets and liabilities, so that could be such as is your press room up to scratch, do you have RSS feeds on your press releases, are you using social media press releases in the first place, what’s your website look like, do you have any social media profiles anywhere that you can take advantage of. So that’s step three. Step four is basically your goals. You need to determine what you are trying to achieve here, what’s your goals: improve the image of your CEO, reduce the number of negative items that show up in Google. What is it you’re trying to achieve? Step five is to basically craft a strategy and write your objective. So that is I’m going to create a new blog because we want to position our CEO as an expert in the industry. That’s certainly going to be one of your objectives. Step six is basically create an implementation plan because I don’t know about you, but my head gets filled with all these great ideas of what I’m going to do and then two days later I’ve got ADD and I’ve moved onto the next thing. Step six we kind of encourage you to write down this is what I am going to do in the next few hours, this is what I am going to do before the end of the week, this is my plan for what I’m going to do this month. So that you do actually take action on it.
SUSAN BRATTON: I liked how you parse things out in time. It forces one to prioritize and create a checklist.
ANDY BEAL: Absolutely, absolutely. Otherwise, if you just kind of have just a long laundry list of things to do, it’s like, well, when are you going to get to the first one. We definitely wanted to encourage people to actually take action. And then basically build a plan to sustain your reputation is step seven. And so things such an monitoring your reputation and continuing managing it, making sure that if you start a blog that you do keep it updated, if you create videos that you are doing it on a regular basis. And with those seven steps you’ve got everything to put in place to not only create a great reputation but also manage it and also monitor it as well. And then if anything does flare up the book also absolutely, in Radically Transparent, we explain how to respond whenever you have a reputation crisis, there’s a couple of chapters in there that we dedicate to that particular situation.
SUSAN BRATTON: Yeah, that’s the thing you never want to have happen, but thank God you can tell us how to get out of it.
ANDY BEAL: Right.
SUSAN BRATTON: So, I think that’s really helpful. The Seven Step Action Plan to me was the delightful culmination of the book. And really, to me also, an indication of the rigor that you and your co-author brought to producing this book. I don’t see a lot of that level…it’s almost like a textbook for grown ups. A textbook in a good way, like a textbook where you can actually learn something, not this ethereal, strategic, high level conversation.
ANDY BEAL: Well, you know what, you probably just made my co-author’s day because you really got two people…we joked throughout the entire process, you’ve got two authors coming from two different perspectives. I’m in the real world doing reputation management, so obviously I can bring that, but my co-author, she is a professor of marketing, so she has written textbooks. So we wanted to blend the two together, so that not only did we talk about the importance of this and give you the tools, but actually did give you, like you said, a textbook for grown ups where you can actually have some strategy and a plan to kind of implement.
SUSAN BRATTON: Well, Dr. Judy Strauss did a great job making that textbook work for us. So, I just want to ask you a couple of quick, quick questions that are more Andy Bealish than Radically Transparentish. The first one is, you’re…it was so great, the book that you said that you love to recommend most to friends is probably one of my all time favorite books mostly because I just love the author. Do you want to share that with us? It’s kind of an old timey book now.
ANDY BEAL: Yeah, it is an old timey book.
SUSAN BRATTON: You’re dating yourself, Andy.
ANDY BEAL: Well, what’s interesting is I didn’t even really discover it until about three years ago. It’s Tim Sanders Love is the Killer App. Basically, it’s really helped me to understand that relationships with people and in business isn’t always about the bottom dollar and how much money you’re going to make. It really kind of helps you to understand that by building relationships and by helping others and by sharing information, it’s almost like karma. It really does come back around to kind of benefit you. So, I recommend the book to a lot of people. It’s a quick, easy read, not a big thick book. I really find it to be a very eye opening book.
SUSAN BRATTON: I love it too. It’s an easy read, it’s one of those books that’s a gift to give. People always love receiving it.
ANDY BEAL: Right.
SUSAN BRATTON: I also asked you who your mentor was and you said, only half-jokingly, Twitter. Why is Twitter your mentor?
ANDY BEAL: Well, Twitter’s my mentor because it’s the wisdom of crowds, if you like. Another great book.
SUSAN BRATTON: Yeah.
ANDY BEAL: I have 2500 people that follow me on Twitter and so they help me…they’re almost like a number of different things. One is they are my moral compass, so if I’m looking at something that is somewhat questionable or if I’m going to implement a marketing technique and I don’t know whether or not it’s going to be well received or not, I can put it out on Twitter and within seconds, often within seconds, I get people coming back to me and kind of give me their thoughts and feedback. So, asking questions about new features for Trackur, I used it to get ideas for case studies for Radically Transparent, and just listening and reading what other people are doing just kind of really just helps me to keep my focus and figure out what I want to do moving forward. And that really helps me because I really don’t have a traditional mentor that I meet with on a regular basis. There are a couple of people that kind of serve that role, but in terms of the industry I’m in and the career path I’m on, I find that being on Twitter and surrounding myself with my peers really does help me with that.
SUSAN BRATTON: A lot of people call it crowd sourcing. So, how did you get 2500 people?
ANDY BEAL: That’s a good question. A lot of marketing. I’ve done things such as I’ve given away a little tablet PC to a random person that follows me, I’ve cross promoted it on Marketing Pilgrim, I have almost 11,000 subscribers on Marketing Pilgrim, so some of the people that love reading the blog want to kind of get a little bit more of a conversational messaging from me and kind of interact with me, and word of mouth. I think it’s all part of the…we can come full circle in our conversation here, and it’s all part of branding me as an expert, but at the same time it’s providing a way for people to kind of get a little bit more information about who the real Andy Beal is. Not just what I happen to put out there each day, but what movies I like to see, what I like to do on the weekend, what frustrations I have throughout the day, and I think people like to kind of see that, and I like to kind of provide that and just kind of connect with people on Twitter. I really do like to connect with people there.
SUSAN BRATTON: Me too. Love it. Well, we are out of time, I wanted to ask you two more things and here’s how I’d like to end up in the next 20 seconds with you. I’d like to know…because I don’t want you to tell me the answer here, but I’d asked you about the three most amazing people you think are involved in web 2.0. You have answers, I’m wondering if you’d be willing to guest blog your answers on Dishy Mix.
ANDY BEAL: Yes, sure.
SUSAN BRATTON: Alright, good. So, we’re going to put Andy Beal’s three most amazing Web 2.0 people up on the Dishy Mix blog so you can go there and see who he thinks they are and why. And then, Andy, I just want…you and I both love Hawaii, I got back from Kawaii last night. I’d like just to leave us with a visual of your favorite place in Hawaii, just take us on a 20 second little trip to Hawaii to close out the show today.
ANDY BEAL: Oh my gosh, 20 seconds. Basically there’s nothing better than listening to the sound of the trade winds blowing through the palm trees, sitting at a beach, eating the freshest fish you’ll ever eat, drinking a Mai Tai and watching the sun go down. For me there’s nothing better than that and so, whenever I think of Hawaii that’s pretty much where I go in my mind.
SUSAN BRATTON: Well, I just went there with you. I had a little Ono, I had a Pina Colada, instead of a Mai Tai, I felt the breeze on my skin. Beautiful. Let’s savor that image today. And Andy, thank you so much for sharing so much great information on Dishy Mix today. I really appreciate it.
ANDY BEAL: Thank you for inviting me on. It’s been my pleasure.
SUSAN BRATTON: It’s been my pleasure and our pleasure too. So, you just got to meet Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim, author of the new book that I highly recommend called, Radically Transparent. There’ll be transcripts of the show on personallifemedia.com. I’d love for you to forward this episode to a friend if you think it would be helpful for them. And if you’re willing I have a listener survey. If you go to dishymix.com on the left hand side you’ll see a little button that says ‘Listener Survey’. I’d love to know more about you as would my sponsors. Thank you again sponsors and I hope you learned something wonderful from Andy today. And if not your thinking about the cool, beautiful Hawaiian breezes. Have a great day. I’m your host Susan Bratton. I’ll see you next week.