Archives For Digital Reputation Management

Our water heater flooded our basement last night, and I specifically didn’t tweet about it. Then I thought about how The Circle would say I have an obligation to share that this life event happened. Then it turned out to be a simple fix of the furnace drainage line – not the water heater. And then I thought about how The Circle would say I should share that lesson for someone else who is having water heater issues.

And I didn’t tweet anything, because I know Timehop will make me relive any bitching on the internet on this day in history for the rest of my life.

If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, read it!


87 percent of people say that a frustrating digital experience leads to at least a somewhat negative perception about that brand (Harris Interactive, October 2013)

via People Are Increasingly Frustrated With Digital Experiences, and Walk Away With Negative Brand Perception — Bulldog Reporter.

Pretty hard to argue against making digital/mobile a priority for brands and agencies with a stat like this one

User generated paid media in a crisis

This morning I’m presenting at the PR News Next Practices Conference in San Francisco, splitting the 8 Essential Skills Communicators Will Need to Thrive in 2014 and Beyond with my co-presenter, Darrel Ng.

Here is my half of the presentation:

What skills do you think we’ll need this time next year?

In this timeless post from April 2011, writer and futurist Kevin Kelly details the skills needed to handle the influx of 21st century technology. 100 percent still valid today…

• Anything you buy, you must maintain. Each tool you use requires time to learn how to use, to install, to upgrade, or to fix. A purchase is just the beginning. You can expect to devote as much energy/money/time in maintaining a technology as you did in acquiring it.

• Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything until 5 minutes before you need it. Get comfortable with the fact that anything you buy is already obsolete. Therefore acquire at the last possible moment.

• You will be newbie forever. Get good at the beginner mode, learning new programs, asking dumb questions, making stupid mistakes, soliticting help, and helping others with what you learn (the best way to learn yourself).

• Often learning a new tool requires unlearning the old one. The habits of using a land line phone don’t work in email or cell phone. The habits of email don’t work in twitter. The habits of twitter won’t work in what is next.

• Take sabbaticals. Once a week let go of your tools. Once a year leave it behind. Once in your life step back completely. You’ll return with renewed enthusiasm and perspective.

• How easy to switch? You will leave the tool you are using today at some time in the near future. How easy will it be to leave? If leaving forces you to leave all your data behind, or to learn a new way of typing, or to surrender four other technologies you were still using, then maybe this is not the best one to start.

• Quality is not always related to price. Sometimes expensive gear is better, sometimes the least expensive is best for you. Evaluating specs and reviews should be the norm.

• For every expert opinion you find online seek an equal but opposite expert opinion somewhere else. Your decisions must be made with the full set of opinions.

• Understanding how a technology works is not necessary to use it well. We don’t understand how biology works, but we still use wood well.

• Tools are metaphors that shape how you think. What embedded assumptions does the new tool make? Does it assume right-handedness, or literacy, or a password, or a place to throw it away? Where the defaults are set can reflect a tool’s bias.

• What do you give up? This one has taken me a long time to learn. The only way to take up a new technology is to reduce an old one in my life already. Twitter must come at the expense of something else I was doing — even if it just daydreaming.

• Every new technology will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs.

• The risks of a new technology must be compared to the risks of the old technology, or no technology. The risks of a new dental MRI must be compared to the risks of an x-ray, and the risks of dental x-rays must be compared to the risks of no x-ray and cavities.

• Be suspicious of any technology that requires walls to prevent access. If you can fix it, modify it or hack it yourself, that is a good sign.

• The proper response to a stupid technology is to make a better one yourself, just as the proper response to a stupid idea is not to outlaw it but to replace it with a better idea.

• Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for. To evaluate don’t think, try.

• The second order effects of technology usually only arrive when everyone has one, or it is present everywhere.

• The older the technology, the more likely it will continue to be useful.

• Find the minimum amount of technology that will maximize your options.

via The Technium: Techno Life Skills.

greg swan_success theater wcco

I was interviewed for this WCCO-TV piece, Beware: Your Reputation is Being Googled, this week:

“If you look at your Facebook and Twitter feeds, our friends lead amazing lives…that’s not real life, that’s success theater, that’s us perfectly orchestrating that,” said Greg Swan, a digital strategist at Weber Shandwick…

“Surveys show that 70 percent of job candidates were rejected by recruiters just from a pure search engine perspective, of seeing what comes up,” Swan said…

“It used to be that you’d ask someone, ‘Have you Googled yourself lately?,’ and we’d all giggle. But now that’s a real thing,” Swan said.

Typing your name into the Google search box will show what you look like online, whether you’ve posted anything truly embarrassing, and whether you have a “digital doppelganger.”

“A digital doppelganger would be someone with the exact same name, who comes up when your name is Googled,” Swan said.

If that happens, you may want to use your middle initial to set your name apart. Other tricks include filling out a complete profile on LinkedIn, the business networking site, and making sure your Facebook settings keep your pictures as private as you want.

Swan also uses an app called Time Hop to look back at his posts from the past. It’s mostly for fun, but also serves as a gentle reminder of what’s been put up.

And if he has to send an embarrassing picture, Swan will use Snapchat or Facebook poke. Those apps make the pictures you send disappear in 10 seconds or less.

Watch the whole piece here

I was quoted in a two-page Chaska Herald feature on civic government communications discussing the opportunity of utilizing social media:

The highs and lows of social media

Social media is a powerful way for civic government to connect with its social-savvy citizenry,” wrote Greg Swan, a Chaska resident and vice president of digital strategy for Weber Shandwick. “The city of Minneapolis uses Facebook and Twitter to announce snow plowing. Stillwater residents promote community garage sales via Facebook. Shakopee posts video from their music in the park series on a city YouTube channel. The Chaska Police Department uses Nixle to send SMS text alerts about breaking news in town.

Jumping on the Bandwidthwagon

Greg Swan, a Chaska resident and vice president of Digital Strategy for Weber Shandwick, would agree for the most part, but he still has some constructive criticism for the city.

“Like many organizations and businesses, the city of Chaska jumped on the Facebook page bandwagon, but hasn’t had a strategic communication and community management strategy to ensure updates are timely, questions are answered and that the page adds value to its fans,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Podhradsky gets that, acknowledging, “We gotta be better at this.”

While critical, Swan also understands the challenges cities like Chaska face.

“To be sure, Chaska government officials have plenty on their plates, and in an era of limited resources, we taxpayers want them to prioritize their efforts,” he wrote. “Yet, in many cases, a dormant social media profile is worse than a non-existent one … It’s of-ten difficult to justify return on investment in moving resources into social media, but the opportunity cost of not participating in conversations about your community can be high.

I also put together a “5 Social Media Trends to Embrace/5 Social Media Trends to Ignore” sidebar that ran within the feature.

Five social media trends to embrace

* Online monitoring of what people are saying about your community

* Social community building and engagement with two-way conversations

* Real-time event coverage (photos/video/news) on social channels

* Social focus-grouping, letting your online advocates get involved

* Live streams of public meetings with real-time chats

Five social media trends to ignore

* Establishing social media channels without a content and community management policy

* Outsourcing social media management to vendors

* Editing Wikipedia, which is against site policy for affiliated organizations

* Focusing so much on ROI that you miss out on the conversation happening today

* Google+, which hasn’t yet set guidelines for non-humans

It was a fantastic round-up by the Chaska Herald with stories on the faces behind city social channels, the role of public safety in social and interviews with social channels from Eden Prairie, Chanhassen, Chaska, School District 112, Carver and Carver County. They should enter it for an award. I’m serious.

I was interviewed for Fox 9’s investigative report on Wednesday, “Is Formspring a New Forum for Bullying?

The report focused on Formspring, a fast-growing social community that is part of the a new Q&A trend that includes Quora and Facebook Questions.

Because users are allowed to ask questions anonymously, many questions involve topics or sentiment one may not say to someone’s face. Like any social network of this nature, anonymity increases the chance for hurtful comments that can contribute to bullying.

However, I was quick to point out most sites, including Formspring, have privacy settings to help users avoid such situations.

Formspring is just one of many (and many to come) social sites that can be used both positively and negatively, depending on the user. And although it’s difficult to cite a social network for fault when its users misbehave, there are tangible consequences to naiveté when it comes to privacy.

Ultimately, responsibility comes down to vigilant parenting matched with ongoing education to equip today’s teens at how to navigate a changing social landscape.

Watch the segment here.

For the second year in a row…and it’s just the latest in 18 months of buck-passing

Got this comment on my posterous post about this.:

Hello, Steph here from Qwest, I am sorry to see that there have been so many telephone books delivered to this empty home. Here is a location where people can opt out of deliveries of local phone books.
I hope this is helpful,

thank you

Steph Lake
Manager, Talk To Qwest Team
“At Qwest your account information is confidential and protected by law, so I need your permission to access the account.”

LOL – so the neighbor has to call Qwest? Nice.

I left this comment over there:

Thanks for the comment, Steph. So you’re saying it’s my responsibility (the next door neighbor) to opt out a foreclosed home from Qwest Dex phone book spam? Why doesn’t Qwest just *not* deliver to vacant properties? Especially those covered in “Foreclosed” and “Do Not Enter” signs?

So I visited the link, it led to a toll free number. I talked to Sarah at Qwest (wouldn’t give me an extension or ID #), who said without the home phone number there, there’s nothing they can do to stop them. Nice x2.

Hey Steph Lake, I called your toll free number, and they said they can’t stop the deliveries without a home phone number. How would you like a company to litter all over the vacant properties in your neighborhood?

I asked them if there was an address for a Qwest property I go could litter them. The gal laughed and wished me a happy day.

New comment from Steph over at Posterous.

I agree they shouldn’t deliver to empty homes, especially if it seems obvious that it is empty. If you can send me the physical address of the home I can see what we can do to request no more deliveries. Thank you My address is
Steph Lake
Manager, Talk To Qwest Team
“At Qwest your account information is confidential and protected by law, so I need your permission to access the account.”

Here are a couple clues that the property is foreclosed and vacant:

I e-mailed them with the address and the pictures.

[address] is a foreclosed property and completely vacant, yet you’ve delivered phone books to this property two years in a row. I called last year, and yet you littered a SACK of phone books at the front door again this year.

I was told to call your toll free number, and Sarah (wouldn’t give her extension or ID#) said without a phone number they can’t guarantee the delivery will be stopped. That’s ridiculous.

As the next door neighbor, I shouldn’t have to pick up corporate litter that blows into my lawn from Qwest littering paper on a vacant property. All that I’m asking is for you to take them off your delivery route until someone moves in to handle their own phone book spam issues

I guess we won’t know until next year if Qwest took them off. Hopefully the property isn’t still vacant by then, but if it is, I’ll be watching.

I went ahead and opted out of the unwanted paper directory spam myself here. “Sarah the Mystery Customer Service Rep” said you have to opt-out every year, so I’ll probably end up like Ed with an opt-out notice AND the books next year.


We moved the conversation over to Twitter:

  • @gregswan: Going back and forth w/ @talktoqwest about Qwest littering books at foreclosed neighbor. Can’t opt-out w/o phone #!
  • @TalkToQwest: @gregswan It’s not qwest. The directory is owned by DEX, its the directory that we recommend. We have offered to assist you if needed.
  • @gregswan: @TalkToQwest I would like assistance stopping the delivery of phone book spam to vacant properties. I was told you can’t w/o a phone number.
  • @TalkToQwest: @gregswan Qwest isn’t dropping these, DEX is. We’ll contact DEX, Please email the address to, we can contact DEX Directly
  • @gregswan: @TalkToQwest I already e-mailed you the address. Dex needs the Qwest phone number. I need your litter to stop blowing into my yard.
  • @TalkToQwest: @gregswan Okay, looks like we have the email. I will contact DEX and attempt to get them to stop delivering the DEX phone books, Thanks.
  • @gregswan: @TalkToQwest Thanks. Seems like better policy for Dex to *not* deliver phone books to vacant properties than spend so much effort on 1 house
  • @TalkToQwest: @gregswan Okay, I sent DEX a request via the “contact us” option and asked them to remove the address. Hope this does the trick.

LOL. I could’ve done that. I went ahead and e-mailed them (, too.

E-mail from Qwest:

With all due respect, this is not a Qwest issue, but a DEX issue. We do not hire or instruct or any way shape or form instruct DEX on how to contract and have this product distributed in any manner shape or way that would be indicative of the post you have suggested so far.

In all fairness, I understand how this upsets you but think that your anger is misdirected.

That said, this is a product that we prefer to recommend for its intended use and does carry our name as a recommended provider and as such I will contact them in an attempt to have the delivery discontinued.

Going forward, if there are any other concerns with services that are actually Qwest related, I would be happy to assist you in any way that I can.


Steve Schwartz
Mgr, Talk To Qwest Team

That’s hilarious, because Qwest came to me offering help and apologies — not Dex — so I just assumed with all this back and forth that they had a stake in it.

Thanks for the note. With Qwest left comments on my blog apologizing and referring me to opt-out #’s, you can see why I would assume you two worked together. I sent Dex a note, as well. -G.

So the buck has been passed on responsibilities with this house yet again.

Do you follow @GroundhogPhil on Twitter yet?

Punxsutawney Phil on Twitter @groundhogphil

Last year around this time I realized there was a huge missed opportunity for promoting Groundhog Day in social media.

So I went ahead and set Phil up with a Twitter account. @PunxsutawneyPhil was one character longer than Twitter allows, so I went for @GroundhogPhil.

To be fair, at the end of last year’s Groundhog Day, I wrote, “If you represent Punxsutawney Phil and/or Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, I will glady turn over the Twitter account to you. I’m just having some fun, so please shoot me a note.” But I never heard from anyone.

This year I’d forgotten about the account until I got a new follower e-mail notification indicating Laura Fitton (@pistachio) was following @GroundhogPhil.

This is hilarious for a couple reason: 1) no one had followed Phil for nearly a year; 2) at SXSW a couple years ago, my friend Nathan and I (virtually) stole Laura’s shoe, and she ended up slapping Nathan; 3) Laura is a Twitter expert and who knows what she thinks of character Twitter accounts.

So I busted out the password reset and started tweeting for Phil again this year. Here are some of my favs so far:

Hugo Chavez reportedly accusing US of testing weapon of mass de-sunshine in Punx, PA to mess with my prediction.6:48 PM Jan 22nd from UberTwitter

Mustache guy just stuck a hose in my burrow attached to his jeep’s exhaust pipe. I think the stress is getting to him.3:24 PM Jan 22nd from web

They say we’re young and we don’t know, We won’t find out until we grow… Babe…I got you babe.. #musicmonday
10:18 AM Jan 19th from web

Winter! I just love hats, coats, mittens AND sniffles! Let’s do this the rest of the year.
8:05 AM Jan 19th from UberTwitter

Moustache guy just dropped off a Snuggie and Mad Men on Blu-Ray. I aint coming out for months.
8:35 PM Jan 18th from UberTwitter

And…. still winter. In your face, people.
8:49 AM Jan 18th from UberTwitter

My prediction: Chuck Norris will get sick of winter and roundhouse kick the earth to tilt its axis and make it summer.
8:30 PM Jan 16th from UberTwitter

Saturday night, and I’m about to prognosticate up some pizza rolls.
4:59 PM Jan 16th from mobile web

A week ago, the tourism folks at have moved Phil into the 21st century with a sweet text campaign:

Sign up to get a text of Punxsutawney Phil’s Febuary 2, 2010 Weather prognostication from Gobblers Knob via your moble device by texting “Groundhog” to 247365 between now and Groundhog Day.

They have a Facebook Page and @visitpa Twitter account, too. However, they’re both overtly tourism focused and don’t follow through on the social character personality promise of the text campaign.

So I’ve continued tweeting as Phil. Yesterday, on the same day as Apple’s iPad announcement, PETA suggested Phil be replaced by a robot.

So Phil had some fun with it:

@PETA The idea that a robot could predict weather better than a rodent living beneath the ground is simply foolish. #iPhil
about 10 hours ago from web

Moustache guy is pretty shook up about this PETA robot thing. I’m getting a burrow makeover, complete with HDTV and a Wii!
5:08 PM Jan 27th from UberTwitter

Instead of a robotic groundhog to replace me, how about PETA sends over naked Pam Anderson from those anti-fur ads?
9:49 AM Jan 27th from web

And it was a surprise to get an @-reply from @peta!

@GroundhogPhil How lovely 2 hear from u Phil. Hope u get that holiday u deserve!
about 11 hours ago from HootSuite in reply to GroundhogPhil

There have actually been quite a few interesting people to strike up conversations with Phil this year. See some of the better ones here.

Okay, so I’m in year two of brandjacking Punxsutawney Phil. As I said last year, this is yet another example of why it’s critical companies, brands and individuals proactively stake out their online reputation.

Meanwhile, I’m not clever or entrepreneurial enough to keep this up. I’m hoping someone will respond to the note below and take it from here. Otherwise, who knows? Perhaps Phil will start speaking Spanish next year.

NOTE: If you represent Punxsutawney Phil and/or Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, I will glady turn over the Twitter account to you. I’m just having some fun, so please shoot me a note.