In my 12+ years in the SEO industry, I have never seen a small company destroy its brand as effectively or as quickly as Ocean Marketing and founder Paul Christoforo managed to do a few weeks ago. Over the course of three days we watched this little PR firm be absolutely demolished by the collective force of the Internet (you know it’s bad when they make a YouTube video), and I highly doubt it will ever be able to recover. Arguably one of the worst PR blunders we’ve seen in a long time, Ocean Marketing is the perfect case study for how to destroy your online reputation in a matter of days.
1. Abuse and insult your customers.
No matter how angry or upset a customer is, as a website owner you should never take it personally. When you’ve built a business from the ground up, it’s easy to take every negative comment as a personal attack and go on the defensive, but that only adds fuel to the fire. You never want to come off looking like the bad guy when dealing with angry customers. It’s very unlikely that your brand is strong enough to be called a “douchebag” by the Internet at large and keep on coming (unless you’re Charlie Sheen). Your customers are the lifeblood of your business, so why on Earth wouldn’t you treat them with respect at all times? Even if you’re dealing with a troll who is looking to cause trouble you can’t afford to get into a spitting match with them. Kill them with kindness and keep your head high.
2. Piss off a dedicated and vocal community.
Let Ocean Marketing’s recent public floggings serve as a warning—the Internet is made of people with voices, opinions and attitudes of their own. The beauty of social networking is that it allows people of common interests to connect with one another, even if they have never met in person. Our online “friends” can mean as much to us as our offline, flesh-and-blood connections. An attack on one member of a tight-knit community can rally the entire network to their defense and ultimately destroy your brand. What starts as a pebble can quickly morph into an avalanche, with your online reputation getting swept away in the process.
3. Steal content.
Never steal/borrow/copy content and claim it as your own. Sooner or later someone is going to notice and when they do your brand will be in a lot of hot water. Stealing content undermines the integrity of your brand, completely destroying both the search engine and consumer trust factors.
4. Send/share/post/reply before you think.
Nothing on the Internet is truly private, not even email communications. Every time you hit the send button that content is now out of your hands and has the potential to end up wall-papered across the Internet. Before you send that email, post that update or Tweet that response take 5 seconds and think about what you are about to send out into the wild world of the web. Every word in every piece of content can be used to either build up or destroy your brand and online reputation, so choose them carefully. Think about how your message might be interpreted by your audience (sarcasm doesn’t translate well) and how it will reflect on your brand.
About the Author – Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing a Boston SEO services company. With over 12 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his knowledge by posting daily SEO tips to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal, and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 160,000 opt-in subscribers.
Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org