Posts Tagged ‘online reputation’
As you know from reading my blog, one of my great interests is online reputation management, particularly in times of crisis. At Weber Shandwick, we have conducted research starting way back on this topic….from Safeguarding Reputation to Risky Business: Reputations Online to Reputation Warfare and more to come. This past week I learned of some new research from Altimeter Group, authored by Jeremiah Owyang. They surveyed 144 social business program managers as well as conducting interviews with 63 corporate practitioners and providers. This included our very own David Krejci in our Digital Communications group about our social media crisis simulator Firebell. I liked David’s quote (“experience the paralysis”) which is what Firebell does – it gives you the heart attack moment when social media has your company in its sights. Since digital defense has been an important element of what we do, we were delighted to share information on this resource. Some of the facts (read the full report here) worth noting are as follows:
- Be prepared. More than three-quarters of social media crises could have been diminished or averted if companies had invested their resources internally and strategically. Of the advanced companies identified by Altimeter, 13 of the 18 have a clearly defined crisis plan with clear roles, responsibilities and action steps. But they found that 56% of all companies had no clearly defined plan (that’s when the paralysis sets in).
- Companies need social media policies. These policies guide employees on how to participate in the social universe. Left unguided, employees are uncertain or oblivious how to participate online and probably do so and go off the guard rails. Reputational risk is heightened, not lessened, when no social media policy is in place. In their survey, 83% of all companies they surveyed had a formal policy in place but among the more advanced ones, all 18 or 100% did. Interestingly, 8% had a policy specifically prohibiting employees from engaging on behalf of their companies. While I have traveled around the world, I have seen this to be true but it does not seem to deter most people and in fact, most definitely increases anonymity online.
- Ongoing education is critical to managing online crises well. I found this section of the report very helpful because there is so much more that companies can do. An example was given of a company that has a certification program with over 60 online courses. Companies could certainly do better at social media training, whether it be brown bag lunches, speaker series, internal newsletters, etc.
- Create a scalable hub and spoke system to lead the social media strategy. The more advanced companies have a center of excellence at the hub with oversight for strategy, governance, training and education, measurement and vendor identification. The centralized hub works closely with the cross-functional and cross-business unit support teams (the spokes) to support the overarching strategy and common policies. The hub is usually operated through marketing and/or corporate communications. This corporate social media team typically consists of 11 people.
There is a lot of good common sense and best practice advice in this report. Take a look. We have a lot of work ahead of us to make our companies digitally safe.
Short note for a busy Friday afternoon. This was in my alert inbox on reputation. I had to chuckle.
Indeed, Brandseye, an online reputation management service (“reputation” is the new catchword for companies once called marketers, PRs and media managers)….
I can attest that reputation is not a “new” catchword. It has been around for a long long time. It is just that the world has caught up with us reputation pioneers.
A new survey from Norton made its way to me and collided in my head with another observation. The survey among British adults was about online reputation and some interesting tidbits surfaced in the perennial discussion of reputations online. Once again, it quickly gets down to privacy issues that seem increasingly difficult to fence in online. Over one half of British respondents said they would not mind “resetting” the button to erase everything about them online. I think there is a huge pent up demand to hit that reset button at least once in our lifetimes — and for good reason. About four in ten (40%) report that they don’t actively safeguard their reputations online. We worry and pout about the loss of privacy but do we do anything really to protect ourselves?
I sometimes try to imagine the world even five years from now when everything about us is woven together into an online profile about where we were born, our friends, colleagues, indiscretions, good deeds, professional and professional events we attended all spliced together with rumors, hearsay, innuendo and just plain misinformation. I got to thinking about this as I was reading an interesting article about President Obama’s mother and her journey to Indonesia with the president as a young boy. I thought how interesting it was that the author, Janny Scott, had to interview Stanley Ann Dunham’s (Obama’s mother) former colleagues, friends, neighbors and two children (one being in the White House) about her because she never lived her life online. This was all pre-Internet days. Probably a good thing. The author had to resort to the old way of writing a book . It is almost delicious in its quaintness. Here is what is says on Amazon about the book:
Award-winning reporter Janny Scott interviewed nearly two hundred of Dunham’s friends, colleagues, and relatives (including both her children), and combed through boxes of personal and professional papers, letters to friends, and photo albums, to uncover the full breadth of this woman’s inspiring and untraditional life, and to show the remarkable extent to which she shaped the man Obama is today.
The juxtaposition of people living their lives online for all to see with people who lived the majority of their lives without the scrutiny and accessibility of the Internet actually makes the new book even more interesting because it probably contains the unknowable. Imagine depending on letters and photo albums to tell our lives today. Almost unthinkable.
How much fun is this? Google Labs has this new program where you can search words among a database of two billion words and phrases taken from over five million books published during the past 200 years. Those are all big numbers and mind blowing if you think about it. You can track the usage of “God” or “enemy” or “Lady Gaga.” Since this is now available to the public, I quickly typed in “corporate reputation” to Ngram Viewer and got to see how the term has soared over the past 19 or so years. The above chart shows the upward rise from 1990 to 2009 and demonstrates how much attention has been paid to the term in published books.
Then I decided to look at the terms’ corporate reputation (blue line) and online reputation (red line). As you can see below, online reputation took off around 1998 and is moving upward although it does not come close to corporate reputation in the world of authorship.
I found all this out when reading an article in the WSJ while sitting on a plane (where I get alot of reading done). I was captivated by the ability to capture trends by tracing words and cultural signposts over time. It is a researcher’s dream and I am busy making slides for powerpoint decks that we use to describe the surge of interest in reputation today. I guess you could say that I have been lucky enough to ride the wave.
There is a new officer title emerging that includes reputation as one of its responsibilities. I learned about this in an article on CSOonline. The new (and not so new) title is Chief Security Officer and although it is still about business continuity and enterprise risk, it is quickly evolving to include brand protection and reputation security. We just have to be reminded of the Dominos incident to realize how important brand protection and integrity is nowadays. In addition, just think about what happens to your reputation when email scams, copyright infringement, phishing, brand high jacking, etc., accelerating even more. As the head of global security at Caterpillar rightfully said: “With the proliferation of social interaction tools any company’s brand could be put under attack for a multitude of reasons. We all have to be very, very astute about watching for those emerging risks and to be able to deal with them.”
The need for CSOs is all the more urgent. Our research among executives around the world about online reputation management found that confidential document leaks and negative employee chatter are keeping leaders up at night. [I read today that the federal deficit is keeping Obama up at night these days. High on his risk agenda I presume.] Companies need to do much more to protect their reputational integrity as well as that of their employees, partners, and supply chains.
Aon annually reports on global risks facing industries and is cited in the CSO article. Reputation damage is among the top 10 greatest risks that executives are concerned about. The survey was taken last fall when the economic news was fairly catastrophic and the U.S. presidential election was close. Therefore not surprising how high the first three risks are below.
The Top Ten Risks Around the World
1. Economic slowdown
2. Regulatory/legislative changes
3. Business interruption
4. Increasing competition
5. Commodity price risk
6. Damage to reputation
7. Cash flow/liquidity risk
8. Distribution or supply chain failure
9. Third-party liability
10. Failure to attract or retain top talent
Maybe we just need more CROs…chief reputation officers to combat this increasingly menacing reputation infection.
I caught up on some articles I was meaning to read over the long weekend. Here’s one worth noting when it comes to managing reputation online. Since we have extensively researched how executives manage their online reputations, I find everything that makes it easier to do so worthwhile reading. However, I wonder how anyone has the time to do all this and get their jobs done.
Robert Scoble in Fast Company says that “Reputations are created and destroyed online in the speed of 140 characters.” He is obviously referring to Twitter and the common phrase today that reputation can be created (Susan Boyle) and destroyed overnight (Bernie Madoff). Scoble recommends seven tools available online, of course, for companies to monitor their reputations online. Thanks for the great list.
TweetDeck – the must have dashboard for the Twitter set (free) to determine what’s being said about you in the Twitter and other worlds
Scout Labs – the sentiment and tone in which your brand reputation is being spoken about online (not free)
BlogPulse – taking the pulse on your reputation using keywords and a easy to use charting (free from Nielsen Online)
Vanno – “It’s Digg for reputation.” (free)
CoTweet – multiple users can tweet from one user name (free) and manage your company reputation
The Conference Board Reputation Risk Research Working Group issued a new report on Reputation Risk. They concluded from the working group and a survey among 148 large company risk management executives that risk management needs to be better integrated into the enterprise risk management (ERM) function. Only about one-half (49%) highly integrate the two. The report provides insights into how some companies are measuring reputation risk and new tools that deliver on this need. Reputation Institute and Evolve24 are both cited. One of the findings that parallels ours is that social media is gaining traction in the corner suite but many executives are overlooking its risks. According to the Conference Board report, only 34% of respondents stated that they extensively monitor social networking sites and an even fewer 10% actively participate. As I have said, the good news is that executives are no longer asking their assistants to print out their emails to read but they still have far to go in terms of understanding the new media and making it work for their companies in identifying opportunity and yes, early warning signs.
Thought I would pass on a good article on defending your personal online reputation. It appeared in Portfolio this month — you know, the one with Bernie Madoff on the cover. Hard to get that picture out of your mind once you have seen it. The article, Slimed Online, by David Margolick provides an arresting story on cyber-bullying by anonymous assassins who went after two Yale law students. The frightening tale is about an online site called AutoAdmit, a web site visited by law students who in addition to real conversations also has visitors who seem to get their kicks out of tormenting (a mild word) women peers through no-name posting. There are many of these web sites and backstabbers out there so this is just one story about the harm it can do and how reputation-damagers can find themselves in the spotlight too if they don’t watch out. Several online reputation defense companies are mentioned to help you if you are in trouble and being smeared: Reputation Hawk, ReputationDefender and several others that work to bump up the good and bury the bad search or site mentions (eVisibility, Converseon, 360i). The two women are suing AutoAdmit to “unmask” the reputation bandits who have done so much personal harm. Ultimately what you learn is that the law does not provide much protection. Kudos toReputationDefender for taking this on for free.
Delightful dinner in Barcelona. Engaging conversation about online reputation management and who is driving the news today. An editor of a well-known Spanish newspaper asked me how people could be satisfied getting their news from blogs and Twitter instead of from the heavily researched and reported media. Not to be too glib, I told him that I have seen research that said that the vast majority of people did not care where they got their news. They no longer trusted sacred institutions as they used to. And in reality, how could they after witnessing the leadership bankruptcy and unaccountability we have seen over the past few months. People would rather assemble their own news and information from the sources they trust. The news of the USAirways 1549 flight that landed successfully in the Hudson was captured on Twitter before the traditional media had the story. Similarly with the recent Turkish Airlines flight crash in Amsterdam from what I hear. How do we manage reputations when others own them first?
Although it is still winter, Barcelona is bella. People are outside, walking the streets, eating tapas and clearly enjoying themselves. A nice change. The economy does not seem to be wearing everyone out.
Sitting in the Lufthansa lounge waiting for the next stop in my multi-market tour of Europe to talk about Weber Shandwick’s newest research on online reputations. Paris and Milan were beautiful of course (the little I saw) but our meetings went well and I learned a few new things. Similar to companies worldwide, some do not see their reputations threatened online and have not experienced their “Dell moment.” Thankfully the world is also somewhat different when it comes to online communications. Keeps me in line. In Paris, I was surprised to learn that bloggers are not as trusted as I imagined. It appears that there is some concern over people paying bloggers to mention items on their blogs and promote them. Since this has happened to some extent in the U.S., I had not realized the extent to which this could be stalling the wide acceptance of social media in Paris. When people paid others to push products or issues online in the U.S., it failed fairly quickly since it was widely scorned by the public. This became a fast no-no for any company or individual. My sense is that this will happen in Paris as it did in the U.S. Regarding Milan, online reputation management is familiar to many but less developed than in other markets like the U.S. Twitter is still an oddity but it is just recently that it has exploded in the U.S. and elsewhere. Facebook in Milan has just taken off over the past six months and expected to surge this year. Off to my next reputation whistle stop city.
Love the spelling of reputation in Italian….reputazione.
[Am not totally traveling by train in case you are interested. Planes and trains!]