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What is a personal reputation?  It's in everybody ELSE's head.  You don't own it.  However you try and shape it, you try and maintain it, and you try and make it your own, you will forever rely on others to host your personal reputation.


And the personal reputation of a ground-breaking person (Columbus, Einstein, King, etc.) is much more forgivable than that of a person who comes along later but has public issues (J. Edgar Hoover, McGovern, Nixon, etc.).  And the Cult of Celebrity actually FEEDS on issues with reputation, because in many cases the celebrity in question is likable and/or admirable for other items that supersede the issues (Madonna's controversial videos, Johnny Cash's drug issues early on, Anna Nicole Smith's personal issues).  In fact, the Cult of Celebrity most often likes you best when you're dead!  (JFK, Elvis, Princess Diana).


And that is what you've seen here on this social media site for the last week:  Personal reputation arguments in public.  We had industry icons who were having trouble transitioning from ground-breaking persona to one-of-many.  And the Cult of Celebrity came into play, too.  The Drama Became the Bomba!  :)


My point is the lesson to learn:  Reputation is tenuous and not in your control.  Ever.  All anyone can do for their own reputation is to give INPUT to it.  And we can see that reputation for dealers is the same way!


Mark your dealership's reputation.  Use SEO, social media, and fantastic tools like Presto Reviews to make it the best it can be.  Seek your reputation as you would seek a sale, and make sure you give positive input to the collective perception.


Otherwise, you'll just be like Andy Warhol predicted--a few minutes of cheap and illusory fame, instead of years of the strong benefits of a great reputation!

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Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 26, 2011 at 11:47am

I put this blog up to use the last week as a learning tool for our dealers, pointing out that reputation isn't just what's said about a person or a dealer, but also how a person or a dealer REACTS to what's said.  I'm really not trying to rehash the week in this thread, though I understand that folks have points they'd like to make.  Maybe we all can just focus on that point for dealers in this thread, rather than the events of the actual week?  Whether directly or obliquely?





Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 26, 2011 at 11:14am
Case in point, a user recently took down his thread discussing about a separate controversial VinSolutions post.  Which I believe was the right thing to do, as his new blog just stirred the pot.  I didn't ask him to do that--as far as I know he just did it.  In the long run, the site will be better for that IN THIS CASE, imho.
Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 26, 2011 at 11:03am

Ralph, a dealer principal in Texas recently contacted me because he is buying a dealership that has years of complaints from a customer at  After years of showing up in their SERP, the complaining fellow has now offered to sell the domain for $35,000 to the dealership.

He had a clear complaint.  The dealership handled it wrongly.  He is a real person.


I gave the dealer an outline of a strategy to bury the site with POSITIVE reviews using Presto Reviews.  I don't think that's any more manipulation than the fellow who is trying to sell his site years later ($400 was the amount disputed), and in fact it is getting the friends of the dealership to post positive experiences--which is the truth of what goes on so often, that positive experiences get forgotten or not posted at all.


To ADM, on a low-moderation forum such as this then "unreal" persons can attack others without merit.  Even "real" persons can do this, but at least they can be assigned to their statements.  Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences.  When people with flimsy credentials have a lot to say about people with LOTS of credentials, then I don't think that's freedom of speech.  That's simply abusing an open forum for an agenda, whether it be personal or corporate.  Or just wacky.

And it distracts from our day-to-day business, allowing a learning forum to become tabloid. 

This forum is your baby, and I abide by your desires, though as you point out I DO disagree with you on occasion.  :)

My $.02.


Comment by Ralph Paglia on February 26, 2011 at 10:50am

keith, thank you for your post which also created a stimulating and enlightening discussion.  One of the issues that you know I feel very strongly about is the desire expressed by some to revise, edit or delete the opinions expressed by others.  Which is somewhat reflected in a lesson taught to me by Mr. Carl Sewell, a very successful car dealer who also wrote a book titled "Customer for Life"... Mr. Sewell once advised me to consider that there is a point where "Reputation Management" becomes "Reputation Manipulation" and that when that point is crossed the very same objective that we seek becomes almost impossible to obtain.


At the time he discussed this issue with me, I was in the process of creating what has become the Reputation Management system in use by over 600 dealers at this time.  His guidance influenced the creation of our strategy and the processes used to define how we would respond to various online content items posted that referenced our dealer clients.  In light of what we have seen over the past week, I would like to share a document that flow charts "Reputation Management" as a working process... I think it is relevant to all of us interested in this discussion: Social Media Response Plan


Comment by Brian Pasch on February 26, 2011 at 3:57am


You are the Master Poet and Blogger...and with embedded linking below..also a SEO Jedi in training.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 23, 2011 at 5:43am

I guess i should give the original Shakespeare:  "To die, to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream, ay, there's the rub!  For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come.  When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause."  From Hamlet's soliloquy, William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark."


Now I've REALLY shot my reputation!  :)

Comment by Scott Falcone on February 23, 2011 at 5:23am
Shakespeare Shetterly...yes, your reputation has evolved this morning ! :)

I'm certain you are still an ADM favorite anyway!!!
Comment by Keith Shetterly on February 23, 2011 at 4:09am

Scott, I knew you'd get the point!  And, funny, I hadn't considered what you pointed out about how the actual definition has changed--however, I have started to consider the very interesting idea of personal branding, which I am beginning to pursue (I put all my blogs that I consider most pertinent on now, for example).


I don't like the idea of always taking a "kumbaya" approach online, simply because I do enjoy being myself in my writing.  However, I do readily admit that I need to be more cognizant at times of my "true north" in the digital realm (I love the way you put that).  And I can see how others would benefit from that, of course, and what works for people needs to be considered for businesses such as dealers.  Issues can, and do, chase our reputations online for quite some time nowadays in the digital world.


I'm reminded of the infamous Dick Poe Toyota hater blog, which is, of course, still online.  And the voicemails the sales manager left that customer, which you can still hear these several years later on the customer's blog.  And which come up high in SERP, even now.  I have a quote somewhere, lets' see . . .


"To write, to blog, to blog perchance to be searched and read.  Aye, there's the rub!  For in that write of blog what reputation may come.  When we have been indexed, must give us pause."  -- William Googlespeare, from the play 'Hungrank, Prince of SERPmark'


Sorry.  I'm a Shakespeare fan.  And maybe sound like a dork.  Is that good for my reputation??  :)


Aye, there's the rub!

Comment by Scott Falcone on February 22, 2011 at 10:00pm

Keith part 2- control in natural societies. It is a subject of study in social, management and technological sciences. Its influence ranges from competitive settings, like markets, to cooperative ones, like firms, organizations, institutions and communities.


Furthermore, reputation acts on different levels of agency, individual and supra-individual. At the supra-individual level, it concerns groups, communities, collectives and abstract social entities (such as firms, corporations, organizations, countries, cultures and even civilizations). It affects phenomena of different scale, from everyday life to relationships between nations. Reputation is a fundamental instrument of social order, based upon distributed, spontaneous social control.

- Wikipedia


Comment by Scott Falcone on February 22, 2011 at 9:58pm



Several months ago I started thinking about the basic term "reputation" and how it applies or should apply to our business and personal lives. As I looked around I noticed something interesting...the evolution of the definition.

The first is from Merriam Webster (first sold in 1847). Look at how it has changed below with the most recent one from Wiki (practically all social language). Hopefully there's a nugget of wisdom in here for those who care and for those who appreciate the efforts of posts like yours.

Perhaps as communities like ADM grow and find their "true north", future contributions from members could be enhanced if some thought more about the words below and what you have written. That's certainly not a knock on anyone, just a suggestion that the written word in member's posts are viewed and read by potentially thousands of others in our industry, and it's more important today than ever before to "get a good compass" before heading out on your (digital) journey. Thanks again for another provocative piece Keith.




Overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general. - Merriam Webster


The general estimation in which a person is held by the public. The state or situation of being held in high esteem. -


Reputation is the opinion (more technically, a social evaluation) of the group of entities toward a person, a group of people, or an organization on a certain criterion. It is an important factor in many fields, such as education, business, online communities or social status.


Reputation can be considered as a component of the identity as defined by others.  


Reputation is known to be a ubiquitous, spontaneous and highly efficient mechanism of social control in natural s

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