Lesson 5. Re-branding Yourself or Others: Find network associates and interconnect

How to brand yourself or others with your blog content.This was one of the funniest scenes I’d encountered when I was researching some Internet scammers. Not only did they not bother to actively defend their logos and phrases as trademarks and service marks, but due to their misuse of social media I was able to find out how to re-associate their brand with other meaning.

Now this isn’t new. It was originally called “Google bombing”, where you get a bunch of people to all link a particular phrase to an individual. During the 2008 campaign, waffles were associated with John Kerry’s campaign. Search for waffles during that campaign and you’d find out about John Kerry.

How search engines figure out what you’re talking about
There are about 6 or 7 different things Google and most search engines use to determine what a page means (here’s your short lesson in SEO and getting your page on top of the standings):

  1. Title of the page (what shows up in the browser at the top of your screen)

  2. Headings of the page (large sized text)

  3. Bold (strong) and Italic (emphasized) terms on the page

  4. Synonymic content of the page – what words are associated with what your page title contains

  5. Words used in your link to this post

  6. What words people use to link to your post.

  7. What words are used by people on the page that links to your post.

There used to be this incredible emphasis on incoming links – getting a lot of people to link to your site. However, this has changed over the past couple of years. Now it’s also how they "vote" on your site. And what they are talking about on that page that links to your site.  Relevance counts in Search Engine Optimization – big time.

So it’s not enough to have Digg link to your site.  If enough people come along and “bury” your post there, then Google is going to devalue that link. Same thing with Stumbleupon and the half-dozen decent article directories. If there is a vote function, then Google takes this into as much or more account than just the fact of someone linking there.  That’s the 7th point – how people vote on what you wrote.

This brings up communities.
In every single part of the Internet, there are communities surrounding every single blog or site.  This isn’t understood by the majority of Internet marketers and scammers are completely blind to this. Historically, this is the way societies function. Even hermits had small communities of people who knew they existed and shared data about them. No person is an island – we are all near to others and interconnect on various levels with others.

While scammers want to be associated with “making money”, “online education”, and “financial success”, what quickly happens is that communities of dissatisfied customers start forming at various forums where they all post their complaints. And this goes to the old rule that when a person is happy with a product they tell 4 others, while where a person is dissatisfied, they tell 10.

I"ve seen this happen to scammers and anyone with a shoddy product.  At first, they had all the top spots for their brand name covered with glorious reviews (mostly from affiliate sales sites or their own remote blogs). But within a few months, four of the top five spots were complaint forums and boards. This was the social-media community effect.

And when this happens to a company, they lose sales. When people start researching on the Internet, they find out that the company is a scam and so they won’t conclude the sale. And if they find out the next day or so, they are able to get an immediate refund. Which is why these scammers pressure you to buy right then. They know you have a chance to back out and you will. This is also why they have a 3-day recission, due to shady used-car salesmen. If they find out within a month or maybe 2, consumers can usually still get a charge-back – where the credit card company takes it directly out of that company's bank account and tells them after the fact.

How to help re-brand a company, how to brand yourself

Branding is all what ideals you are associated with. It’s known by half-a-dozen names.

Branding by using social media has probably been best described by Chris Brogan. Here’s a collection to get you started (he also has an ebook or two you can download from his site): http://www.agglom.com/set/544/Chris_Brogan_on_Personal_Branding

You just get a lot of decent, dependable content of a certain high quality out there – all posted under the same brand: your name.

When you deliver a consistently good product, then you have people commenting and voting this up.

When you consistently produce a rip-off, then people will comment on the forums and complaint boards and vote your stuff down on any social media site (like Digg).

You might see here that what is being influenced is the off-site factors – which Google apparently places at least as much value in as what is on the page itself. How I can say this is in watching brand new blogs suddenly show up of the first page of Google results, while traditional factors (such as how many pages a site has and how long it’s been around, as well as weather it’s a government or educational site) don’t seem to have that effect. And it’s not just me that noticed – but Google it for yourself (as this section is already long enough…)

Morale of the story is that scammers and rip-off artists don't last long in the search engine rankings (with some temporary exceptions), because the Internet forces transparency. It's a "take the money and run" gambit - just don't use your own name again - because that's linked to any earlier scams. (Hope you scammers love hiding.)

Can anyone get rebranded?
Sure, it happens all the time. Ask politicians during any election cycle. How do you prevent it happening? Give far greater valuable service to others than you ever expect to get paid for. Pay it forward in advance is another phrase for it. And put your name on everything you touch – which is covered by getting that ping.fm scene going as I mentioned in an earlier lesson.

So your solution? Always, always, give far greater value than you get paid for – and preferably give away far greater value than you can ever get paid. Then money, wealth, success, fame – whatever you think you want will be all but thrown at you.

And anyone who comes up with some negative silliness will simply be laughed out of existence. And voted down.

I have to give this caveat: Can’t you just vote up your own stuff? In a word, No. It’s against the terms of service for most of these social media. 

People simply don’t listen to others who talk about me, me, me, me all the time.  Yes, you are able to “get away with it” if you post probably 12-20 or more of other people’s stuff – but the social media networks log your network address. So they’ll catch you trying to Digg or vote up your own content. And it’s beyond the technical level of this essay to advise you how to do it. It can be done, but I don’t do it and don’t advise doing it – it’s just another way to scam the system, which never works forever.

Using ping.fm should be enough for now.

Just find and befriend many people in your community. Leave plenty of helpful comments around. Always only post your best, most helpful stuff. This helps everyone concerned. And actually fills the purpose these social media exist for – to find valuable stuff and get it recognized. You’ll find people who appreciate your stuff and both vote for you and leave helpful comments of their own.

Again – check out Brogan’s posts above as he gives you the complete layout of how to help build the community you are part of.



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