When the Internet can jeopardize your Job
The Compliant One
I created my first website in 2005 and was considered a maverick realtor among my co-workers. My internet savvy quickly grew, and I was fortunate enough to listen to the right people that were involved in early search engine optimization.
In less than a year I dominated my market, rising to the number one organic position in Google and Yahoo. This dominance gave me more leads than I could handle, and my online persona grew with local profiling and press releases. Pretty soon my name was everywhere on the internet and in 2007 my revenue more than doubled what it was in 2005. My online customers went from 90 to over 1,900 in just three short years.
I gladly shared what I knew with my competitors and spoke in other regions of the country about how to increase your presence on the internet. I found a compatriot who shared my enthusiasm for online marketing. Looking back, our purchase of local real estate domains was just a precursor to what we then learned to do with keywords. Although she and I shared many techniques, I wanted to dominate Google traffic while she wanted to dominate Yahoo. And we did dominate.
I was asked to help people who didn’t understand how far reaching the internet was, and who didn’t care to understand compliance. Rules in my industry are just as stringent as attorneys, and I have always prided myself on being ethical and conforming to the regulations of the Real Estate Commission, the local real estate boards, and associations we must belong to.
The Non-Compliant One
SomeoneI know and worked closely with asked for my help getting his name in cyberspace. Although his company’s website was a cookie cutter one, I was able to put some related content on my website so he could share my marketing success. I created a few press releases, submitted his profile into local directories that dealt with finance and real estate, and created a few videos reflecting our services as a team in a few NJ towns.
I seemed to have a knack for staying one step ahead of my competition. One day I decided to create a blog which dealt with police and firefighters. This Google blog became a powerful website which garnished the entire first page in organic search results. His leads kept rolling in. The business he gained from the blog, and not his cookie cutter website, awarded him a Leadership Club ranking at his company, similar to the AV rating of Martindale-Hubbell.
I had to burst his bubble once in a while and say, “No” when he requested something that smelled non-compliant to me. He did push the envelope too far, however. He wanted to achieve internet success yet didn’t take the time to look into advertising rules of his company with regard to the internet. Compliance in his industry had tightened up, and what I have found was that some large companies do not want employees getting direct internet leads from other sources so as to maintain control of internet customers. He wasn’t allowed to have a blog or any marketing material that was not approved by his company. I dismantled the blog so as to be compliant yet he still wanted it to garnish him business.
I thought he learned his lesson about six months ago when his company had him pull off all his links from websites other than his company’s website. They took my website and created a page which I had to use instead of the fresh content I had posted. They were adamant he was not to do anything in the future or the fine would be termination or a $10,000 fine.
Recently, he is in hot water again because of comments he made on websites or blogs. They were insightful comments with full disclosure of his name and title. He also his assistant started putting his profile in websites heavily trafficked, but without being compliant. However, comments are included on the “do not post” list. He is finding his profile on sites that were never in existence back in 2007. He has been told to delete a long list of pages that he has no access to other than writing to the webmaster asking to have the item removed.
He has been threatened with termination yet again. Also, there was recently an internal audit and he is under intense scrutiny by his compliance, marketing, and advertising departments.
The Moral of the Story
All stories have a moral and this one teaches you how innocent comments, postings, and links to other websites to gain exposure on the internet can come back to haunt you in later years. Compliance in certain industries is very critical and it could mean losing your job. Trust the experts in your industry and company and don’t do anything that could jeopardize your job.