Tag: reputation management

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Can Your Website Visitors Really Trust You?

Should your website or blog have a privacy policy? Why would you want to have one? Are there any laws that require a privacy policy? Do small businesses (like bed and breakfast inns) need a privacy policy? What should my privacy policy include? Having a privacy policy is not something most small businesses think about when they think about content for their website. But should they? The short answer is yes. Why have a privacy policy? [caption id="attachment_550" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/mynetx/"][/caption]As of this writing, for most small businesses (there are exceptions for some businesses in health care or financial services industries, or if you collect information from children under 13 years of age), no US laws require that your website have a privacy policy. Don't stop there, however, as there are other considerations. 1. US Efforts to Regulate Internet Content. In the US legal arena, the federal government continues its efforts to regulate internet usage in a variety of ways. As these efforts continue to change, it would not be surprising to find that they result in either mandatory privacy policies, or provide additional protection for sites with privacy policies. If that should happen, having a reasonable and appropriate policy in place will be a very good thing. 2. Efforts to Regulate Internet Content by Other Countries. Since many (perhaps most) B&B's serve guests from other countries, and their websites are seen in other countries, the laws of those regions or countries may come into play if you collect data (including booking information) from citizens of those countries. 3. Privacy Expectations of Visitors. Despite study after study showing that the majority of people using websites are concerned about their privacy to some degree, many websites do not have a privacy policy. Studies of the "Top 100 Websites" show…

Pinterest: Not Just YASN (Yet Another Social Network) for B&B’s

We've been hearing a lot of buzz about Pinterest lately, but surprisingly little of it comes from within the Innkeeping community. I say it is surprising, because Pinterest seems almost as if it was made for innkeepers - it is easy to use (we jumped in for our Freeport Maine B&B, and were happily pinning away in minutes), plentiful graphics grab the attention of the visitor, and it is so addictive that users stay connected for a long time. According to comScore, Pinterest ranks just behind Google+ in number of visitors, and third (behind Facebook and Tumblr) in the amount of time a visitor spends on the site. This is very impressive for a site that is not yet open to the public (you can join using a Facebook login, or you can request an invitation on the Pinterest home page). So what is Pinterest? Pinterest describes itself as a virtual pinboard, but we think it is being far too modest. From where we sit, Pinterest is a fantastic tool for sharing interests, or ideas, with others. It seems to be a combination of bookmarking sites (like StumbleUpon, Digg, or Reddit) with photo sharing sites (like Flickr, Panoramio, or Photobucket), with the added ability to comment, share, etc., that you find on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Why do people share? The reasons for sharing seem as varied as the backgrounds of the people sharing. Some are sharing their own memories or activities, much like other sites. But since Pinterest allows (even encourages) sharing of sites you visit (they retain info attributing the original source), you can also share your interests, dreams, and ideas. Why would an Innkeeper use Pinterest? There are several reasons to use Pinterest. First, as Heather Allard notes, "If you had the opportunity to make your business…

3 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation – Good, Bad, and Ugly

Will your failed effort to repair your online reputation sink your business? Stories about bad (and occasionally good) reputation management efforts have become all too common. Still, businesses often don't get it. You can run, but you can't hide! You can't avoid the impact to your reputation by staying away from social media - you just don't know what's being said about you (whether positive or negative). We all make mistakes, so the best thing to do is plan how to deal with them. Three recent situations illustrate all three types of reputation problems, and make good lessons on how to (or how not to) deal with them. The lessons from these stories apply to businesses in any industry, whether large multinationals or small, local businesses. The Bad This is kind of a double lesson. Part 1: First, 7-Eleven posted a joke on their Facebook page that was mildly unkind to mental health. Not a very politically correct thing to do. Especially since this didn't just show up for a few people, but to the over 700,000 people who "Like" their page. They deleted the post, but that didn't stop people from talking about it on their Facebook page. No doubt the post was largely unnoticed due to the attention of the news media being captured by the disclosure of the killing of Osama bin Laden. If it had attracted a lot of attention, it could have been a PR nightmare. Part 2: Next Peter Shankman posted about the 7-Eleven post, commenting about its being in poor taste and pointing out that 7-Eleven may have dodged a bullet because "Monday happened to be a very active news day". Shankman was criticized by some of his readers as being too "politically correct", and so posted a follow-up the next day, explaining…

New Facebook Pages – What to Expect

Yet another Facebook change! After the "accidental" slip of Facebook pages a few weeks ago cause so much uproar (navigation moved to small text on the left side of pages, no more ability to designate the landing tab, etc.), we suspected that a major change to the appearance of pages was about to appear. Last night it did. Page admins will have received an email telling them about the wonderful new "features" and encouraging the admin to switch to the new layout now. The email also says that (like it or not) all pages will be forcibly switched on March 10. If you want to see your page - you may find something else has changed - if you were accustomed to navigating from your personal page to the business page by clicking the Account dropdown, then Manage Pages - that's gone. Search around your profile to find the links to your pages - they're gone, too. Hope you remember the URL for your page. Looking at the page, there is a banner at the top offering you a Preview of the new page, an "Upgrade" to the new layout, and an Upgrade to Multiple Pages. If you select Preview, you get a walk-through of the five changes Facebook lets you know about. We found another important thing that doesn't change, as well. Here they are: Custom landing tabs Perhaps most important for businesses, is the one thing that doesn't change - if you click Edit Page, then go to Manage Permissions, you'll find that you can still specify the default landing tab. That was the issue that caused the greatest outcry when the change temporarily appeared early. This is good news! Featured Photos Your latest photos are automatically placed at the top of the page (you can hide some…

Claimed your Google Place Page Yet? If not, someone else will!

As if you needed another reason to claim your Google Place page, the most compelling reason yet has now appeared. It is ridiculously easy (unless or until Google has fixed it) for a scammer to claim someone else's Place Page if they have a mailing address in the same town as the business. Don't believe me? Mike Blumenthal uncovered the way to do it, and it is quoted in detail at Search Engine Roundtable. Read it yourself, but here's the essence of it: Google allows you to verify your business either by phone or by receiving a postcard from Google. In either case, you get a PIN number that you can use to verify that you are the owner. The scam comes from the difference between the way the US Postal Service interprets the address, and the way Google uses it. In a two line address form, such as 1234 Anystreet Rd, PO Box 8910, Somewhere, TX 87654 where 1234 Anystreet Rd is the physical location and PO Box 8910 is the delivery address, the US Postal Service delivers the mail to the address closest to the zip code. In other words, to the PO Box. Not so with Google. Google uses the first line of the address to locate the business. So what, you ask? So this: If there is a business with an unclaimed listing (in some areas, this is the majority of the businesses), and if a scammer is in the same general locality, the scammer can claim the business listing by requesting verification by mail, and putting the business address in the first line, and the scammer's address in the second line. The postcard with the PIN number will be delivered to the scammer's address, who can then "verify" that they are the business owner. Naturally,…

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