Sponsored

Shiftplanning: Taking the hassle out of employee work scheduling

Asking your boss for time off is like going to confession.  Hear me out: your life (and/or soul) is in the hands of this one person; a person who, among other things, has suboptimal management skills.  Both give you a hard time.  Rightly or wrongly, you are wracked with guilt.  And even if you get what you want – absolution or vacation – it comes at a cost.  You can go to heaven and party with Bob Marley, but first you have to say your 10 Hail Marys first.  And sure, you can get that afternoon off to go check out the women’s roller derby championship, but you’ll pay for it, what with those dirty looks from your co-workers who think you’re slacking (you are.)  Both conservation is encased in weird vibes.

ShiftPlanning is a dynamic, free scheduling tool that not only takes the pain out of these conversations, it also makes everyone’s lives easier by providing a single interface where employees’ schedules can be monitored and managed, freeing up people’s time to, you know, actually work or something.  Because the only thing worse than having to ask your boss for vacation is taking that vacation, only coming back to find out that your boss thought you said September, rather than October.  (How someone could confuse the two is beyond me, but that’s your boss for you.)

shiftplanning

The site itself is clean and crisp and effectively articulates the breadth of ShiftPlanning’s features.  I particularly encourage you to check out their tutorial video here. In addition to these nifty scheduling features, it also provides robust reports, user dashboards, and neat extras, like mobile access and file sharing, depending on your threshold of employee schedule management masochism.

The tool makes your boss’ life easier by allowing them to manage their employees’ schedules, approve or reject vacation requests, and – what I like the most – compel their employees to find cover if they can’t work.  This latter piece is great for employees too.  For starters, the act of finding someone to cover your shift is generally an in-person exercise which can get huddled – people are inherently sneaky and wicked.  And worse yet, there’s no audit trail for these conversations if someone flakes.  It’s even better if you can’t appear in person to have this awkward chat: if you wake up with totally sick poison oak, rather than calling the only co-worker who actually seems to like you – and there’s no chance they won’t ignore your call – you can access all employee available online, in the safe and impersonal medium of the Internet.  And heck, in the process maybe you’ll find out other people in the office like you after all, but were too shy to say anything because you kind of come across as self-absorbed and stand off-ish.  Maybe you’ll even meet your soulmate!

The closest analog to a tool like this that I can think of is Microsoft Outlook.  But my gut is telling me that Outlook falls a bit flat in comparison.  For starters, while users can generally see if other employees are busy or on vacation, due to user access rights, it’d be more complicated to work the trade-shift angle, which Shift Planning allows elegantly.  In fact, the Outlook version of shift-trading probably would go something like this:

Mike (sees Rich in the pantry): Hey Rich.

Rich: Hey Mike.

Mike: Whatcha got there?

Rich: Tuna fish.

Mike: Ahhh…[awkward pause.]  Hey Rich, you know how we have to come in one Saturday a month during the busy season?

Rich: Yeah, it’s the worst.

Mike: Ehh…well, something came up, and I can’t come in this Saturday.  Long story, but there’s this [mumbled]…eh…roller derby…[more mumbles]….Allentown…[more mumbles]…met…eharmony–

Rich: — You know what Mike?  I just remembered something, gotta run, bye bye.

Mike: [Stares vacantly at the toaster oven, a gentle tear rolling down his face. His damp face says, “Now what?”]

But hey, even if Rich wasn’t such a self-centered jerk (I heard he went to boarding school in Carmel), is that much of a consolation?  Even if Rich said yes, you’d still have to slink into your boss’ office tell them the news.  “And Rich is ok with this?” the boss would say.  “Yeah, I just talked to him.”  “Can you bring him in here?”  And then things just turn gross.

The example above is set in a cryptically corporate office, where, ShiftPlanning would work just fine (especially in a smaller office.)  That said, I feel like its sweet spot is in the service industry, particularly for those smaller businesses that can get lost in the cracks: too small for something like Outlook; too big for Post-It notes left to feebly flutter away when posted next to the walk-in freezer.  At the end of the day, the beauty of good software like ShiftPlanning’s is that it takes any connection you may have to other people and utterly obliterates them.  This is nice, especially when the connection involves invasive and gnarly work-life topics like approaching your boss about vacation.  Now if only saving your soul were that simple.  And free.

Sponsored

DonorCharge: Giving to non-profits was never this easy

I’m not sure what it is, but a recurring theme amongst recent SlapStart reviews has been “good vibes.”  Good people doing good things in tough times.  It’s inspiring.  Perhaps we here at SlapStart are just particularly adept at tapping into society’s Zeitgeist – it wouldn’t be the first time someone has told us that – or perhaps it’s because tough times bring out the best in people, but today’s feature is especially great.  It’s a site called DonorCharge, an electronic donations payment services that allows folks to allocate portions of each electronic sale or ATM surcharge revenue to participating non-profits or charities of their choice in a paper-free and environmentally friendly manner.

donorcharge

DonorCharge’s secret sauce is it’s dual purpose of supporting non-profits and the businesses that give to non-profits.  I can’t speak for certain, but intuitively it seems like the full potential of the Internet – particularly from a fund-raising perspective – is still untapped for many organizations, public and private alike.  And that’s a shame, because if Obama’s campaign taught us anything, it’s that once tapped, the possibilities are limitless.  After all, a majority of Obama’s donors – or so we’re led to believe – were small, under $100.  We in the business call these micro-donations.  And it’s be wonderful if non-profits can replicate even a fraction of this success because the ocean is made up of trillions of teeny, tiny drops, yes?

DonorCharge allows non-profits to efficiently raise funds by tapping into their network of businesses/donors or accepting direct donations from supporters via more traditional methods.  It’s peace of mind, as the non-profit can always count on contributions each time a business charges a credit card or electronic check transaction, or each time a customer withdraws funds from an ATM.  Here’s why that’s great for non-profits and businesses/donors, IMO:

  1. Ever leave a CVS or Walgreens and adroitly avoid someone with a clipboard asking for a donation?  Um…yeah, me neither.  But my friend Fred did once.  He’s cruel.  Ice runs through his veins.  But if you’re like Fred and a business, you’ll be happy because DonorCharge is low-footprint.  Businesses sign up once, and they’re done.  All automated.  No awkward speed-walks or gallops across the parking lot – literally or metaphorically – to avoid the 19-year old Greenpeace kid who smells like patchouli.  That’s more time devoted to actually doing your job.  Conversely, it’s gold for the non-profits: no pestering phone calls, no rattling of the cup.
  2. Non-profits can create a “menu” of causes for target donors.  For example, they can create a “Building Renovation Fund” and a “Haiti Relief Fund.”  Business can choose, and who doesn’t like choice?
  3. Non-profits can also dabble in…eh, “profits.” Specifically, they can earn recurring donations by referring other non-profits to DonorCharge.
  4. Businesses may, in fact, give more than they normally would.  It’s like that old financial planning trick: automatically deduct a percentage of your paycheck to your Roth IRA.  You never really “see” the money, but off it goes, and next thing you know, you’ve saved up quite a little nest egg.  Boca Raton, here you come.
  5. At the same time, businesses/donors can donate to their favorite charities without increasing their existing rates while also donating to an unlimited number of charities.

Ultimately, it’s a win-win for everybody.  And moving forward, DonorCharge’s model aims to be all-encompassing, adding a 1-800 fund raising option for participating non-profits.  As a result, along with receiving micro-donations and Web donations, non-profits will be able to have their own 1-800 automated system for fund raising to receive donations via touch-tone phone with minimal start-up costs.  DonorCharge also has the unique distinction of having the coolest, mellowest, quasi-country home page music of any site I’ve come across in a while.  (For a second, I thought I mistakenly stumbled upon a Pink Floyd cover band home page.)

Let’s be honest.  The Internet is filled with a lot of white noise – mellow-harshing white noise (heck of a book!) that I frequently and painstakingly wade through – so DonorCharge is like a breath of fresh air, a nice Bach quartet to offset all that disorienting feedback.  And if these dire, depressing times keep producing such cool vibes and intelligent solutions, then keep ’em coming I say.  Let the bad times roll!

Sponsored

FootPrint Live: Get your spy on with real-time visitor analytics

Loyal readers of SlapStart may know that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to the Internet.  So many times, when the Internet flusters me or makes me cry, I tend to blame myself.  Case in point: we here at SlapStart dabble with the Google Analytics stuff.  We track our traffic, say, 300 times a day, and generally speaking, it’s a helpful exercise.  But for the life of me, I never can figure out the IP addresses of who is visiting our site – where, precisely, they came from.  Which is strange, because I used a similar tool, like, six years ago, and they did that.  And since Google, y’know, knows everything about me, including how I tie my shoes (note: the “weird” way), I thought maybe I was missing something.  Maybe it was me.

So, after many minutes of psychological self-flagellation, it was quite relieving and validating to know that I’m not stupid and it’s not my fault.  Google Analytics won’t let you check by IP addresses.  Google stinks.  Without FootPrint Live, Google Analytics would the gleam in the eye of a drunken-Web analytics sailor on leave with 20 dollars burning a hole is his wallet.  FootPrint Live is an add-on that does what Google Analytics does not: it lets you look up IP addresses and individual clickstreams in real-time.  It’s free, and it’s cool.

footpring13333

All you gotta do is create a free account and install the tracking script on your website and instantly you’ll feel like a CIA spy.  I went to their site and checked out their Free Demo.  It’s rare to get such an instantly gratifying demo for a tool; especially since in this case, I could actually see myself on there.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The dashboard not only showed the viewers to their site, but it showed them in real-time. Like, as I write this to you (except you’ll be reading it later.  Then again, what is time?)  Drilling deeper yet, I could hover over the “visitor puppet” icon (green is online and active; orange is recently active; red has been offline for more than 10 minutes) to get each visitor’s profile, which includes country, ISP, zip code, city, telephone area code, number of visits, total page views, duration, shoe size, favorite color, biggest pet peeve involving grammar, and least-favorite color.  And lo and behold, as I hovered, I found  myself, there, on their site, describing my very situation.  (And wouldn’t you know it, as always, my eyes were closed in the picture.)

Here’s a screen shot:footpring12

For further, plate tectonic-like, molten-core-ish drilling down, you can check out the visitor clickstreams, seeing where they went on your site, by page, and for how long.  And it’s done in a well laid-out fashion: map of the country on the left, their profile below it, and the clickstream to the right, each page laid out by date, including total time viewed.  Obviously all this frothy data opens a whole new world of analytical possibilities and mind-bending reports to obsess over.  What are the post popular pages?  And for how long?  And why?  And what do people have against magenta?  The mind reels.

The beauty of the product is that it’s simple and it speaks for itself.  I surfed around the site for quite a bit trying to find other things to underscore or comment in a way best described as “gentle constructive criticism,” but I couldn’t.  All the action is in the demo, and beyond that, there are no unnecessary or distracting bells and whistles from the user perspective, which me likey.

In related news, I’m sure by now you’ve read about Google’s debacle with their Buzz tool; namely, their sordid disregard for user privacy.  As a Gmail user myself, it was kinda infuriating and found the whole hubaloo to be straight-up bizarre: how could so many seemingly smart people blow something so badly, especially regarding user privacy?  People are really steamed out there, and 10 years of goodwill has gone out the window.  I mention this because, as we know, bigger isn’t better.  Footprint Live is a far more user-friendly analytics tool than Google’s, it has greater depth and breadth, and most interestingly, it’s all in real-time.  And while both tools can be used in conjuction with eachother, most folks would do just fine with Footprint Live.  Best yet, it makes me feel not stupid; so much so, that if Google were a woman and I was breaking up with her, I’d say, “It’s not me…it’s you.”

Sponsored

Bccthis for Outlook: contextualize your emails, avert disaster

It’s Friday afternoon and you’re getting back to your cube after your 4 pm Starbucks run.  Your administrative assistant  (research has shown that 8% of all SlapStart readers have administrative assistants) pops in and says, “Hey, thanks for bcc-ing me on that email on Tuesday.  Have a nice weekend!”  You nod, think it over, and suddenly the extra-hot mocha latte starts boiling in your veins.  You bbc’ed him for a reason: he was supposed to follow-up with the recipient.  That very day.  Four days ago.

You plummet into an existential vortex: “Wasn’t it patently obvious a follow-up was necessary?  Why didn’t I remind him immediately?  But do I need to really to coddle this person?   When was the last time I called my mother?”  The point: you’re in big trouble.  The email and the bcc was misinterpreted.  So now you’ll cut your weekend aikido plans short and spend five hours looking for jobs on Monster.  If only you had bccthis.

bccthis1

Bccthis is an Outlook plug-in that lets you safely send personalized messages to email recipients along with your original e-mail.  It extends the capabilities of Outlook and Twitter by creating a richer, more contextual messaging experience.   It serves a very real need: the information disparity created when sending one message to multiple recipients with different levels of knowledge about the subject matter discussed.  It’s hard to disagree with that.

Heck, I have trouble communicating, with words, face-to-face with real people in the real world (inevitably weeping and minor drooling is involved.)  So who can be surprised when things breakdown over e-mail  with multiple people in the mix?  After all, when many people read one message, the message will often be interpreted differently: context, tone, and intent are all in the eyes of the beholder.  It’s a big Rorschach test.  To some, it’s a butterfly.  To others, an inky butterfly.  To others, Charles de Gaulle.   We’ve all been there.  We read an email and then wonder, “Why didn’t they put a smiley face at the end?  Why no exclamation point?  How should I interpret, ‘Don’t make me get a second restraining order’ when it’s in bold, 48-point font, and underlined?  Are they mad at me?”  That’s the problem with email: context goes out the window, and it’s something bccthis addresses quite elegantly.

The tool itself is simple.  Check it:bccthis21

Once installed, a new bar appears at the bottom of you Outlook screen while you’re writing an e-mail.  The “public,” “old-school” e-mail message is on top, like normal: To, CC, BCC, Subject, and the Message.

On the bottom is the BCCThis bar, where you can enter the personalized, private text.  You have all the same formatting tools at your disposal too – bold, italics, colored-fonts, etc.  Simply type your message, and then, to the right, recipients for whom you want to receive the private message.  Check the box next to their name, and you’re done.

The screen shot above came from their Learn More page, and I suggest it highly.  It’s quite interactive – by scrolling to the bottom and selecting one of six topics, the screen shot above changes accordingly.  It took some experimenting to figure it out; I’d suggest adding some text up top, like, “Click on each topic below for a representative screen shot.”  In fact, it was by doing this that I found an answer to one of my questions: “Do recipients needs bccthis installed to view their bccthis messages?”  The answer: fortuitously, no. The screen shot showed a normal, old fashioned Outlook message, except at the top, in a gray-bordered box, it says, “You received a personal BCCthis messsage from Michael Steuer.”  Simple, easy.

What we’re ultimately talking about here is, essentially, an electronic Post-It note to your e-mail.  To which some folks – myself, initially, if I may be honest – thought, why, isn’t that a tad redundant?  Why not a follow-up email?  But I quickly realized the value.  For starters, refer to my analogy above: we do this precise thing in the real world, so in theory, it’s not foreign at all.  And secondly, context does matter.  Getting the tone right the first time is critical, and follow-up emails only add to the clutter. I also like this tool because it provides another layer of audit trail protection.  If all heck breaks loose, it is nice to have this contextual evidence to absolve workers who’ve been sorely misinterpreted.  Go to bccthis’ blog, here, and scroll down a bit for some real-world uses for this tool in the Sales, HR, and Management context.  It makes a ton of sense.

So I bid you a parting rumination: in the annals of corporate history, how many misinterpreted e-mails have, for example, caused a minor tiff among co-workers?  A major tiff?  A tiff, then a rift?  A – God-forbid – firing?  A moderate tiff that lead to a firing?  A minor rift that escalates to a tiff, that culminates in looting in Detroit?  The cancellation of Hawaiian Shirt Fridays?  Quite a bit, I’d venture.

Bccthis has ruminated on this as well, and addresses a problem older than God Him/Herself – the inability of people to communicate with each other – across a medium as old as apple pie – e-mail.  It makes the experience more contextual and more adept at addressing real world problems.  In fact is somewhere, someday, it can save Hawaiian Shirt Fridays, bccthis will be preserving our very humanity itself.

Bccthis was omitted from an email for the last time. In a fit of rage they burned the server and deleted the code. All that was spared was this article.

Sponsored

Propadoo: Positive testimonials gone viral!

Call me a West Coast new-ager, but man, I hate bad vibes.  Especially on the Internet.  Being on it is bad enough, but then I get my mellow harshed every time I go to a YouTube thingie or a message board.  Like, 95% of the comments are attacks.  Vicious stuff.   It’s like, c’mon people, relax.  Drink some chamomile tea.  This is why my mellow gets stoked whenever I come across good vibes, like Propadoo.  Propadoo takes positive customer testimonials and uses it as a marketing tool to expand your customer base, boost conversions, and market your product.  Propadoo is a collector, conveyor, and dispenser of good vibes.

propadoo-home

Propadoo takes these positive reviews, and using the power of social networks and Twitter(s), blasts it out into the universe, and by golly, that’s good for business.  But it’s also good for individuals too.  Regular folks use Propadoo to compliment colleagues for a job well done, recognize teachers, coaches, civil servants etc. for going above and beyond expectations, and use positive reinforcement by telling someone what they’re doing right.  Just by writing this I feel the chi improving in the room.  So I registered.

On my Account page, I could give props in the upper left hand corner, so I did.  To myself.  I entered my name, and was given a list of other Mikes to choose from.  I wasn’t there (as I registered under my alias), so I was prompted to enter the name and e-mail address of the prop receiver (me.)  The prop was: “Hey Mike, you’ve generally been well behaved in 2010.  Except for that one Saturday night in the Sunset District, you’ve been behaving excellently.”  After submitted, I was noticed I’d receive an email about it, which I did, encouraging me to registered.  I read the prop I gave myself and blushed.

I could also track my Props Received, Props Given, Favorite Props, Referrals Received, and Referrals Given.  But what really makes Propadoo sing is its referral tools.  For example, you can create links for your email signature, Website, and social networking profile that prompt people to give you props.  You can then reject or accept these props and/or send a pre-written Prop for a customer to approve.  Best yet, once you approve the props, you can explode them into the Internet by streaming them on your website, Twitter(s), or Facebook page.  And the  testimonials get indexed by Google and show up in the search results.  This all goes down on the Links and Promote page, where you can copy and paste code to accomplish this very thing (see below.)  Easy!

links1

Now for some quick suggestions:

  • Propadoo’s secret sauce is without a doubt its ability to tap into social networks to create streaming testimonials.  I discovered this, albeit after some digging.  I feel like it should be front and center on the home page – maybe another quote bubble from Senor Propadoo himself. (Maybe I can set him/her up with my old pal Translationzilla; what a team they’d be!)
  • Similarly, my account home page looked a tad stark.  And while I was told to “add a feed of your Props to your web site or social networks. Click here,” that could have been more prevalent, and/or designed in such a way that it instantly grabbed my attention.  Cuz that’s where the action is.
  • I may have missed it, but a screen shot of a prop on a Facebook or Twitter page would really make it come to life.

Propadoo’s business model made me think (it happens.)  There’s nothing more valuable in the business world than good word of mouth.  It’s critical.  And while such word of mouth can be captured in pithy testimonials, or those five-star rating systems you see on sites, it’s still an untapped content source.  It’s a big pile of un-mined sparkling gold: a litany of people – would be customers, partners, and, yes, competitors – all out there, floating in the Inter-ether, unorganized, unkempt.  Yelp, of course, allows people to testify, but what’s behind the name?  Can you really access these people?  Have you any control over the process?  Of course not; it’s anarchy, and for a business owner who’s been unjustly slandered on the Internet, it’s frustrating and unfair, darn it.  (Note: the customer is not always right.)  And what if you do get props on Yelp?  Who really sees it?  It just sits there, buried, unused, un-communicated.  It’s over there in the corner, surly.  And you can’t prop individuals there either.

Propadoo harnesses a wealth of positive testimonials, personalizes by putting a name behind the face, and uses it as a tool to grow your businesses, or at the least, improve your standing among your peers, which is nice, because everybody loves to be loved (especially Pisces.) And don’t take my word for it; the folks at the This Week in Start Ups agree as well (check out the Shark Tank segment.)  Basically, I like Propadoo for the same reason I like long drives down Rt. 1, the Grateful Dead’s “American Beauty,” and a nice cold Pacifico beer: good vibes.  Life is too short to complain.  What does it accomplish, other than harsh my mellow?  To quote an old Jersey acquaintance, upon being asked how they were doing: “I’m okay, I can’t complain.  And even if I could, who wants to hear it?”

Not me, that’s who.

Startup

ScoopGods: Exposing Existential Truths Using Humor

ScoopGods is a news website unlike any other, owed mostly to the fact that while none of the articles on ScoopGods are, in fact, real, all of them are really funny. The brainchild of a small team of writers with jobs in the computer industry, ScoopGods is a website filled to the brim with eccentric, off-the-wall humor. Articles lampoon everything and anyone; from President Barack Obama to the Pope; and from Apple Computers to the Hadron supercollider.

The news stories are relevant to the issues of today in the same way that eating a burrito is relevant to the Mexican-American War of 1846; loosely. Articles about current celebrities alternately exaggerate their most notable characteristics to legendary ends or mock their self-aggrandizing behavior by “exposing” their secret side. Other articles are sheer nonsense; studies of ridiculous human behavior in a world where insanity, crazed sexuality, extreme juxtaposition, and irony writ large are par for the course.

scoopgods

ScoopGods realize that their humor may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Subtlety doesn’t exactly factor into their comedic sense and toilet-humor abounds. Certain articles are Monty-Python-esque (in a good way), while others simply beat you over the head with the gag, until you’re left a whimpering, quivering, cowering blob. The best stuff on ScoopGods, in my opinion, are the articles written more tongue-in-cheek rather than fart-in-face, but if you read through a few stories you’ll undoubtedly find something brilliant that will make you smile.

This range of humor works to their advantage as well as to their disadvantage. It would be easier for ScoopGods to skew their articles toward the mainstream, to make things less offensive, and to play it safe, but one gets the feeling that this would go against everything the ScoopGods writers stand for. They write what they think is funny, and if you don’t like it, you can go elsewhere. They don’t really care if you like it because they had a blast writing it. It’s precisely this devil-may-care attitude that will attract kindred spirits, and should be admired, even if you can’t appreciate the product itself. If funny was universal, the world would be a tired and boring place.

In a world where snap judgments are standard practive, we dub things “hot or not” in a matter of milliseconds. We expect our humor to be presented in bite-sized chunks, which isn’t what you’ll find at ScoopGods. The articles are longer than you might be used to reading and sometimes the joke set-ups are long and the pay-off is near the end. The use a rural analogy, the journey to the well is a long one, but the bucket rarely comes up dry.

If ScoopGods can be compared to The Onion, it’s only in a favorable light, and only on the surface. While both websites deliver a comedic slant on the news, ScoopGods is an entirely different flavor of humor: much more personality-driven, like joking between good friends or with a brother. The Onion, on the other hand, feels like it’s written by a bunch of elitist, sarcastic, cardigan-wearing haters with “everything sucks” attitudes. While I love reading The Onion, I wouldn’t want to relax and have a beer with any of the writers, whereas I would probably enjoy having a beer with the guys who run ScoopGods. As long as I didn’t have to pay.

ScoopGods claim to be “determined to push [their] influence around the world and possibly the universe,” and that news today misses the “core message”. They don’t go on to explain what that core message is exactly, but I think I can take a guess. It’s that, despite the serious tone of the news, and contrary to the panic-spreading stories that pollute the airwaves, the human experience is, at heart, a humorous one. From the first caveman who laughed when his friend tripped over a rock, to the latest homosexual escapades of anti-gay congressmen; we are a ridiculous species who like to shoot ourselves in the foot at every possible opportunity. It is only our ability to laugh at ourselves that allows us to continue forward, towards more absurdity. It also gives us our most underrated characteristic: resilience.

Comedy is the funhouse mirror held up to society’s reflection; they don’t invent, they only exaggerate what’s there. A joke shows us some truth about ourselves or our idols that we wouldn’t normally be able to stomach. We laugh because “it’s so true”. We laugh because we think it’s crazy, sure, but we also laugh because we know it’s pretty close to our reality.

To that end, perhaps the articles at ScoopGods are prophetic, or like windows into a parallel dimension where things are only slightly different but seem ridiculous because we’re on the outside looking in. Maybe there is some divinity working through the ScoopGods, a deity that get’s its rocks off by showing us an approximation of what we really look like and then watching us laugh. And that would be the scariest thought I’ve ever had.

Sponsored

ReputationArmor Fights For Your Good Name

As a fledgling company makes its way into the world, the brainchild of one or more people driven by the entrepreneurial spirit, and becomes known (hopefully) across that untamed wilderness we call “the web;” an intangible entity begins to develop that exists parallel to the actual business: a reputation. Regardless of how the company actually operates, the formation of a reputation is based largely on luck. If one customer out of a thousand feels slighted, this is usually not a horrible problem. After all, you can’t make everyone happy all the time and some people can’t be pleased at all. You make the effort to rectify problems and if they still aren’t happy, well, there’s not a whole lot you can do. Throw in a free keychain, maybe.
If that one person, though, decides that you have somehow swindled them and they launch a one-man internet-war against what they perceive to be an evil corporation (you), it can be a serious problem. It can cost you money in the form of lost customers and tarnish your reputation in a way that can feel irreversible. All of the positive steps you’ve taken to spread the word about your business, the SEO you’ve done to ensure your website is at the top of the heap when someone Google’s your business name or industry, are all for nothing when some libelous blog post turns up just above yours with the title “XYZ Company Founder Involved In Kitten-Eating Scandal”.It is simply bad luck. As someone who has his own detractors out there on the web, I can tell you personally that this is infuriating. And, for the record, it was not a kitten; it was a burrito.

reputationarmor

Reputation Armor is a reputation management company that provides, among other services, damage control for the sort of situation mentioned above. They specialize in helping businesses and individuals remove negative online complaints and reviews. By knowing how to effectively stack search engine results in your favor, they can help preserve your reputation and minimize the impact of negative press that can hurt your ability to draw in new customers and grow your business.

One of the ways they do this is by using tried-and-true search engine optimization tactics. Search engines value new content more than stale or static content, which is why search engine results typically place blog and forum posts ahead of standard static web pages. Reputation Armor creates new positive content about your business, either by posting to existing blogs or by creating a new blog for your company. By dominating the first few pages of search engine results with positive reviews and news about your company, Reputation Armor effectively pushes negative reviews off of the first page, which removes them from the public eye. This works because many people simply don’t look past the first page of search results.

Another way Reputation Armor helps improve your company’s reputation is by creating a positive press release campaign. By distributing press releases to large PR websites, Reputation Armor can drive traffic to your website and spread your name around in a positive way. You may think that press releases are only for large companies, but virtually any business can benefits from good, positive press.

It’s nice to know that Reputation Armor also offer their service for individuals. Many human resource departments Google prospective employees to make sure something troubling doesn’t come up. A lot of young professionals who live active social lives use Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites to keep in touch with friends and family and share pictures. Occasionally, a person may find themselves the victim of unsubstantiated rumors spread via the internet. Or perhaps a former friend posted an embarrassing photo or some revealing information about you on their blog. The service that Reputation Armor provides can be just as effective when used to help the reputation of a single person as they are when helping a business. Many people don’t realize that things that are written on the web are archived somewhere and can come back to haunt you. Youthful indiscretions shouldn’t prevent a qualified candidate from landing a good job.

Reputation Armor has many other services available, including procuring backlinks that will increase your website’s value, negotiating for the removal of negative reviews from popular review sites, forum posting, positive article creation, and constant reputation monitoring, but they all really equate to one thing: someone fighting for your reputation.

The user-driven nature of the internet enables industry competitors and unhappy, bored people alike to post outright lies about your business. There’s no changing that. There’s no regulation out there and the more scandalous the allegations against you, the more people are willing to click on it. Every dollar spent improving your company’s reputation does more good for your business than ten dollars spent on advertising. A positive reputation bolsters your marketing campaign. If the public does not trust you, then your marketing will amount to nothing. And it’s simply not possible to get positive word-of-mouth referrals, which can make up a significant portion of new customers, without an upstanding reputation.

Put simply, when you pour your time and energy into making your company the best it can possibly be, just to have to spend more time and energy fighting negative reviews and comments online, it can be a relief to know that there is a better way to fight. I’m sure many of their clients will agree that the service Reputation Armor provides is invaluable.