Two years ago I wrote a white paper regarding the value of reputation management (see below) and the connection points within social media, public relations, executive branding, and business impact. These elements tie together to form the foundation of reputation management: with the business impact (both risk and reward) driving the primary strategic direction of the idea.
The bad part…
While there is plenty of buzz regarding reputation management, very few organizations understand the very serious ramifications of having product, brand, corporate, and employee names being contaminated and manipulated in the digital world. Most executives think of reputation management as being search engine optimization (instead of a holistic and integrated communication strategy)
For the relatively small percentage of professionals that ‘get it’ – a majority of these individuals were forced into a brutal understand of how reputation management can quickly derail major business projects. An example of this could be seen with the story “United Breaks Guitars” where I detailed how United Airlines reputation value dropped dramatically. Another corporate example is when former HP CEO Mark Hurd was fired. These organizations had to suffer brutal losses that were avoidable (had they planned appropriately.)
Understanding corporate vs individual
(previously written @ SocialMediaReputation.com for corporate reputation management )
The essential difference of corporate reputation vs individual reputation is that it includes segments of brand, along with both executive and personal reputation. Simply said: the business entity becomes responsible as the steward of everything within the larger umbrella.
To understand the scope, we must first acknowledge that every single employee within an organization is digitally connected to 25 to 200 other individuals. This means that a corporation with 100 employees has 2500 to 20,000 connection points to family, friends, co-workers and more. A larger global organization with 25,000 employees has a like-minded network with 625,000 to 5,000,000 connections.
Those connections represent a tremendous amount of opportunities and risks, ranging from the ability to gain employee insight and support for business objectives to having catastrophic failure points with traditional projects.
A core issue to this is that every employee that has ‘digital exposure’ has dozens or hundreds of people searching for them on the web. If you have 100 employees in your company and if 25 people each month search for them online, you quickly have 2500+ monthly exposures that have little or no communication safeguards in place. While the 25 searches a month going to your mailroom clerk or college intern may not raise concern, the 100 to 500 searches a month going to your key executive team members probably does.
Take a look at your business impact
Search Google for the name of your CEO, VP of Marketing, VP of Business Development, etc.
Take note of how often they do or do not control the 1st page of results for their name. Write down any advertisers that appear. Write down any competitors that appear.
Click through to any profiles they have – check out Facebook and Linkedin and see what types of advertising are being bought on your executive’s profiles. If you want to see a A/B test, check out the Linkedin profile when you are logged in and logged out (many times you are served two different advertisements.)
Catch up on a trend that has been happening for a decade
I’ve included my 2008 white paper below. It serves as a good benchmark of where professionals think the trend is today as compared to two years ago. In another two years we will be seeing a continued increase in social media and digital communication.
Follow my advice: enhance your understanding of the online reputation management trend before you become a casualty of it.