The emergence of the internet may have given anyone in the world a unique voice, but it is the recent proliferation of social graphs that have given these voices both credibility and real-time reach. The once fragmented shouting match of the Web has now been refined to personalized networks, organized communities, and unique identities. People are now able to instantly reach out to anyone with a shared interest, passion, friend, location, etc. Uncensored peer reviews offer more trustworthy opinions than the neatly packaged 30-second Madison Ave propaganda of the past.
As the web continues to become increasingly social, some of these graphs are being dynamically comprised of our closest personal connections. We believe them to be extremely reliable and we make an effort to leverage the collective opinions in order to help determine a reputation for every company, brand, product, or individual.
Both consumers and businesses have had to entirely change the way they operate online. The social web has empowered them to seamlessly interact in an infinite two-way dialog, but this “groundswell” has brought many additional threats along with it. Information now flows at lightning speed and even the most bizarre idea can become a viral hazard with the proper backing of influencers.
We have consistently seen rock solid reputations snap, crackle, and pop in a matter of hours. Even the smallest rant or questionable word choice has the potential to spawn a trending internet meme of negative connotation. We have all witnessed how one epic “decision” can transform a heroic poster-boy into an ostracized villain overnight.
Make no mistake, public discourse has changed dramatically. Online reputations are becoming increasingly impactful with fatal consequences for those who choose to look the other way. Here are some relatively straightforward universal guidelines to consider:
- Be transparent, authentic, and timely: Make yourself openly available and genuinely engage. Speak the language of your audience and offer a timely response.
- Embrace the haters: Accept that these will come and go. Don’t ever let it get under your skin and avoid fueling the fire at all times.
- Don’t be a dickhead: Self-explanatory (See @kanyewest).
- Earn your credibility relentlessly: Make an effort to always add value and build a stockpile of authority to leverage when needed.
- Always try to give something back: This will certainly vary, but may even be as basic as a simple “Thank You”.
- Eliminate threats at their source: Don’t get sucked into the expensive game of “SEO manipulation.” Hiding your tracks is only a temporary fix that will eventually resurface.
- Be over prepared for the worst: Resolve any gray areas, plan accordingly for all scenarios, and know exactly how to nail the execution.
Your reputation is what drives your business and learning to manage it properly is only possible with a deeper understanding of everything comprising it. Try to look beyond all of the buzz or mentions and find a way to tap into the essence. There is plenty of pontification and spam bots to sift through, but deep inside this plethora of data streams are valuable insights waiting to be mined with the right tools. These can be leveraged to make smarter business decisions, mitigate risks, and maintain a quality reputation.