I was flattered last year when a long time reader referred to me as not only an online expert, but as one of the grandfathers of online reputation. For me online reputation is far beyond simple search engine tricks and knowing what social media communities you need to be involved with: it is about knowing how an individual professional and corporate brand exists both online AND in relation your strategic future. I originally began working with the concept of online reputation while I was working at TMP worldwide and promoting the flagship recruiting product Monster.com (that was a long time ago!)
There are a lot of vultures hopping onto the term looking for is easy money to be made, but the reality of online reputation is that it is one of the hardest professions to excel in. It is also one of the most damaging professions to error within (a mistake in online reputation is often like a mistake in brain surgery.) Even in the last month, I saw several large venture capital investments in groups that have questionable service platforms. The industry evolves daily, has major technical overlap, and connects into dozens of business fundamentals.
Unfortunately the lure of big numbers created by Google, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin has created a “virtual shooting” range for less experienced and savvy folk to prey on unknowing executives/businesses. The term “online reputation specialist” would infer that the person has a detailed grasp of all business channels, capable of tracking and coordinating efforts across such channels as marketing, human relations, customer care, sales, public relations, legal and investor communications.
If an online reputation specialist only knows how to manipulate and repair search engine results,
the unknown ramifications and lost benefits are enormous.
As a simple professional exercise I created a free tool that I named BuzzProfile. It is not some robust and insane “techie tool”, but a simple and straight-forward solution for my own daily chores in reputation management. When I first released it, I had about 250 alpha users playing around with it and I received a tremendous amount of feedback regarding how different professionals perceive online reputation. Unlike other firms, I provided a service that created value and didn’t try to rake users “over the coals” and pay for massively complex processes that didn’t work.
In the idea of sharing freely and trying to give some of my professional peers “food for thought” I created a comparative breakdown of online reputation score : organic traffic vs pay-per-click cost vs brand exposure as a one page work aid. The combination of factors covered in the one page score represent about a third of the overall reputation value, with dozens of other specific elements being applied for each business model niche.
I hope you take a moment to look at both of the tools / resources above. They are free AND WILL save you thousands of dollars (if not now, in the near future.) If you have any questions about either, please drop me a note!