Fast Company talks about the “reputation economy” in its December issue. We have heard that term before because it applies to the exercise of lifting your own reviewer ratings when you write something on Wikipedia or post a video online. Companies such as amazon and ebay have always been about the reputation economy as people review books and sell or buy products online. The reputation economy has become more complicated as newcomers arrive such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List and Urbanspoon. I have gone to all these sites looking for reviews although I must say that I am never sure how to discern which reviewers I can trust. I mostly get overwhelmed and move on. The article in Fast Company, however, is about a dispute at Yelp where they banned some members and they in turn started a class-action lawsuit along with the customary Yelp-sucks.com site. The argument is about who has the power to censor and harm another’s reputation. Sounds like a whole new class of lawyer will have to emerge to settle these types of disputes on the reputation trade.
I thought I would also mention another interesting dispute covered in Advertising Age. A message on Twitter complained about a management consulting company’s trade booth at Adobe Max and called them complete clowns. A digital strategy director at the company, Sapient, debated about sending back an angry response – will it draw more attention? Should I wait and see how much impact the original twitter made? As the Sapient exec Freddie Laker said, “Social media presents tremendous opportunities to connect with potential customers but it also requires a thick skin, some self-restraint and most importantly, the wisdom to know when and how to communicate.” Among the advice he offers, one is uppermost in my mind…think twice before you respond. In fact, I would say think thrice (three times).
Reputations are increasingly vulnerable online and no one will be spared. That is obvious at this point.