The pricey costs to social media reputation repair

The third annual study called the Computing Safety Index was just released by Microsoft and it has some real gems in it on the costs associated with online reputational risk. Repairing the damage from social media cannot be ignored because it comes with a big price tag. The facts below came from the blog of Jacqueline Beauchere, the chief online safety officer at Microsoft (cool title). 

  1. Nearly $6 billion was spent in 2013 "to mitigate risks associated with financial and time loss due to personal or professional damage."
  2. On average, the cost to users who experience online reputational damage and have to restore their reputation averages $632 per episode. When you look at this by country, the numbers are incredible. In Canada, the average U.S. dollar equivalent costs to repair one’s professional reputation totaled $484 per incident; in Japan, $500 per instance. In Belgium, that total balloons nearly four-fold to $1,979 per issue and, in the U.S., the average total was a whopping $2,600 per professional-reputation incident. Whopping is an understatement.

There are plenty of risks today but social mistakes are getting costlier and the clean-up sounds like it can wipe an individual out. It is wise to remember that social media can do wonders when it comes to helping you build reputation but it can also do horrors to wrecking what you've built. 

Thanks to Microsoft for collecting this data from 10,000 respondents in 20 countries. 

Innovation in reputation

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I was delighted to learn yesterday that The Holmes Report included me in its list of 25 Top PR Innovators. This new listing, the In2 Innovator 25, calls attention to the importance of innovation and ideas in the public relations field.   The 25 of us were honored for breaking boundaries, challenging the industry and pushing PR onto the wider stage that it so deserves.  Not bad.

One of the questions Holmes asked in a mini-survey of the Innovators was “Who most influences a brand's PR/marketing innovations?”  The top influences were CMO, receiving 10 votes, and CEO, which received 6 votes.  I answered CEO.  In my world, the CEO sets the guardrails for and shapes the corporate culture that allows ideas and experimentation to ferment and that also allows fear of failure to fade away.  Without such a culture, imagination and risk-taking would never have enough air to breath so as to grow and flourish.

During my career I have benefited from just such an expanse of breathing space.   My former agency CEO Chris Komisarjevsky encouraged me to ideate when I began one of my first research projects on CEO reputation.   Today at Weber Shandwick, I have had the full support and encouragement of our CEO, Andy Polansky.  Without Andy's support, without the amazingly collaborative culture that he has fostered, I would have found it nearly impossible to think divergently and follow my instincts.  I am fortunate and grateful that my boss and my colleagues have created an accepting, nurturing environment for ideas.  My thanks to you all.

 

 

 

 

Red Light Green Light

imagesCA2O5H2PI wonder if you have heard about the new reputation model that Microsoft is using with its Xbox, the video game. It is actually called Reputation and it alerts you to whether you're planing with a jerk or cheat. This is their way of keeping out the trouble-makers. It uses a community powered algorithm that alerts the player to whom they are playing with. Pretty clever. Here is an interview I found online with Xbox LIVE program manager Michael Dunn: The new model will take all of the feedback from a player’s online flow, put it in the system with a crazy algorithm we created and validated with an MSR PhD to make sure things are fair for everyone. Ultimately, your reputation score will determine which category you are assigned – "Green = Good Player," "Yellow = Needs Improvement" or "Red = Avoid Me." Looking at someone’s gamer card you’ll be able to quickly see their reputation. And, your reputation score is ultimately up to you. The more hours you play online without being a jerk, the better your reputation will be; similar to the more hours you drive without an accident, the better your driving record and insurance rates will be. Most players will have good reputations and be seen as a “Good Player.” The algorithm is looking to identify players that are repeatedly disruptive on Xbox Live. We’ll identify those players with a lower reputation score and in the worse cases they will earn the “Avoid Me” reputation. Before a player ends up with the “Avoid Me” reputation level we will have sent many different alerts to the “Needs Improvement” player reminding them how their social gaming conduct is affecting lots of other gamers.

Just imagine if we could do this with social media in general. As I mentioned in a previous post, we just finished our fourth annual survey on Civility in America and found that incivility online is becoming more of a hazard than years ago. But just imagine if your reputation was called out and you could avoid all those uncivil people who are bent on maligning your reputation or making your day miserable. Now the tables are turned. If only we could take this algorithm to the Internet in general and all those "Avoid Me" people would be scratched out of our online lives.

Reputation Observability Works

Meet-Neighbors.jpgA new study finds that concern for reputation is more powerful  than cash in getting people to do the right thing. Since this study was covered recently in TIME magazine, I thought I'd just repeat it here word for word. It's worth reading. "Researchers collaborated with Pacific Gas and Electric, a California natural gas and electricity provider, to understand how best to increase  participation in a program to prevent blackouts.  The plan involved  installing a device to cut individual power use at peak periods. Enrollment  could cause minor inconveniences by lowering the use of appliances like air  conditioners during heat waves, but it would also prevent the much larger hassle  of a system-wide power failure. Widespread participation could potentially  reduce the need for new generators by 38% over 20 years and save $129 billion  during that time, according to a report by the Edison Foundation.

Three times as many people participated in the program if they thought their  neighbors would know who signed up— and knowing that others might learn about  their participation or avoidance was more than four times as effective as a $25  reward in increasing enrollment.

“Observability really matters,” says study co-author Moshe Hoffman, a postdoc  at the University of California in San Diego. “It has a much bigger impact than  offering financial incentives in terms of promoting good behavior.”

The experiment presented its 2,413 participants with a classic dilemma in  cooperation:  everyone benefits if some  accept small costs to help  society, but those who don’t sacrifice at all can still benefit if others do.  Throughout evolutionary history, social species that cooperate have faced such  problems, and it makes the concept of cooperation appear to be a highly unlikely  development. In theory, the cooperators would lose out to those who were  profiting without participating.

“Evolutionary theory points out that there is real puzzle: how is it possible  that people and other animals evolved to behave cooperatively?” says Hoffman.

One part of the answer is reputation.  If individuals can be identified  and punished for cheating, and rewarded for cooperating, most will do their fair share— or at least try to appear to have done so.  If humans evolved  cooperative behavior in this way, people should have unconscious impulses to  demonstrate good behavior when they know others are watching.

To test these ideas, the researchers compared the number of people whose  enrollment involved writing an anonymous number on the sign up sheet— so  neighbors couldn’t tell who was participating— to the number who signed up when  they had to use their real names. The use of a real name tripled  participation.

The authors also compared participation among people who lived in apartment  buildings where the signups sheets were in common areas like mailrooms versus  people who lived in row houses, where the names of participants would only be  seen by a minority of other residents. “To extent that reputations are  driving results, you would expect the biggest effect to occur when people would  be observed by more of their neighbors,” Hoffman says.

Owners— who are likely to have stronger ties to a community— were also  compared to more transient renters. The results showed those with deeper roots  to the area also had a greater concern about reputation.

And, when fliers inviting participation were sent to an additional 1,005  Californians, the study found that being observed didn’t matter when the  participation was not presented as an altruistic act.  In other words, if  participating didn’t involve personal sacrifice to benefit society, people  didn’t care about what others thought of their choice.

“What ties it all together is [the question of] when should observability  matter,” says study co-author David Rand, an assistant professor of psychology  at Yale, “[It’s] when people you care about can see whether you are doing [it]  or not and everyone thinks it’s something you should do.”  Facebook badges  saying “I voted” or pins touting a recent blood donation also take advantage of  people’s pursuit of a good reputation to increase participation."

 

 

 

 

 

Reputation vs. Cash Rewards: How To Inspire Good Behavior

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The mere suggestion that others are watching can put people on their best behavior, and a new study finds that concern for reputation is more powerful than cash payments in getting neighbors to do the right thing.

Researchers collaborated with Pacific Gas and Electric, a California natural gas and electricity provider, to understand how best to increase participation in a program to prevent blackouts.  The plan involved installing a device to cut individual power use at peak periods. Enrollment could cause minor inconveniences by lowering the use of appliances like air conditioners during heat waves, but it would also prevent the much larger hassle of a system-wide power failure. Widespread participation could potentially reduce the need for new generators by 38% over 20 years and save $129 billion during that time, according to a report by the Edison Foundation.

Three times as many people participated in the program if they thought their neighbors would know who signed up— and knowing that others might learn about their participation or avoidance was more than four times as effective as a $25 reward in increasing enrollment.

“Observability really matters,” says study co-author Moshe Hoffman, a postdoc at the University of California in San Diego. “It has a much bigger impact than offering financial incentives in terms of promoting good behavior.”

The experiment presented its 2,413 participants with a classic dilemma in cooperation:  everyone benefits if some  accept small costs to help society, but those who don’t sacrifice at all can still benefit if others do. Throughout evolutionary history, social species that cooperate have faced such problems, and it makes the concept of cooperation appear to be a highly unlikely development. In theory, the cooperators would lose out to those who were profiting without participating.

“Evolutionary theory points out that there is real puzzle: how is it possible that people and other animals evolved to behave cooperatively?” says Hoffman.

One part of the answer is reputation.  If individuals can be identified and punished for cheating, and rewarded for cooperating, most will do their fare share— or at least try to appear to have done so.  If humans evolved cooperative behavior in this way, people should have unconscious impulses to demonstrate good behavior when they know others are watching.

MORE:  Should We Give to Get Ahead?

To test these ideas, the researchers compared the number of people whose enrollment involved writing an anonymous number on the sign up sheet— so neighbors couldn’t tell who was participating— to the number who signed up when they had to use their real names. The use of a real name tripled participation.

The authors also compared participation among people who lived in apartment buildings where the signups sheets were in common areas like mailrooms versus people who lived in row houses, where the names of participants would only be seen by a minority of other residents. “To extent that reputations are driving results, you would expect the biggest effect to occur when people would be observed by more of their neighbors,” Hoffman says.

Owners— who are likely to have stronger ties to a community— were also compared to more transient renters. The results showed those with deeper roots to the area also had a greater concern about reputation.

And, when fliers inviting participation were sent to an additional 1,005 Californians, the study found that being observed didn’t matter when the participation was not presented as an altruistic act.  In other words, if participating didn’t involve personal sacrifice to benefit society, people didn’t care about what others thought of their choice.

“What ties it all together is [the question of] when should observability matter,” says study co-author David Rand, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale, “[It’s] when people you care about can see whether you are doing [it] or not and everyone thinks it’s something you should do.”  Facebook badges saying “I voted” or pins touting a recent blood donation also take advantage of people’s pursuit of a good reputation to increase participation.

However, an earlier study found that another power company program— one that let people see how much they consume compared to their neighbors— lowered consumption among liberals, but may have raised it in conservatives. This suggests that reputational concerns vary depending on values. The conservative customers may have wanted to show that they are big consumers, while liberals focused on preventing global climate change, for example.

It’s not clear from the study whether people participated because they were afraid of shame and embarrassment if they didn’t— or if they sought to bolster their reputations as good neighbors.  But the authors suspect shame isn’t a factor because, since the signup sheets were removed every few days, no one could be sure who didn’t participate— they could only know definitely that someone did.

The research also offers another factor to consider in the debate over internet privacy.  “There’s been a lot of discussion about the tradeoffs between privacy and security,” says Rand, “What our study shows is that there is another, similar tradeoff in the dimension of pro-social behavior and cooperation, where a cost of privacy is increased selfishness.”

As in the debate over security, the answers probably don’t lie at either extreme. “I don’t want to live in a society where everything is totally observable, but I also don’t want to have no idea what anyone else is doing,” Rand says.

The human drive to cooperate is real— but it may sometimes hinge on concerns about how we are seen.

MOREEven Babies Can Recognize What’s Fair

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/06/14/shaming-vs-cash-rewards-how-to-inspire-good-behavior/#ixzz2WQ26i3yt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a reputation gap?

ku-xlargeI spoke on a panel one week ago organized by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) in Connecticut. The topic was "Can They Really Say That About Me?" I was joined by terrific panelists....John Hines of Clark Hill (Online Reputation: Legal Perspective), Polly Wood of Reputation.com (Protecting Your Online Reputation), Dr. Pamela Newman of Aon's Newman Team (Insuring Reputation) and Stephen Schultze of the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy (Policy Perspective on Reputation).  We all had a terrific time learning from one another since we all approached reputation from different angles. I approached reputation from a company point of view, John from a legal point of view, Polly from an individual point of view, Pamela from an insurance perspective and Stephen from a policy angle. John Hines organized the event and we are hoping to take the show on the road to Chicago. Stephen brought up a question that has been lingering in my mind since the session ended. He asked whether society was perpetuating a "reputation gap." He posed the idea that there is a divide between those that can police their reputation and those that cannot. It costs money, time, resources and know-how to protect your reputation, build positive mentions to push down the negative, open new domains and populate social media to create good first impressions. The "have nots" do not have the same access to information and Internet savvy to protect their reputations, balance the positive with the negative or hire an online reputation management specialist to help better situate their reputations. Just yesterday I wrote on this blog that nearly $1.6 billion was spent in 2012 managing reputations online. With figures like this, Stephen Schultze has to be right asking whether there is a reputation gap. The answer is clearly "yes."  Perhaps some of these online reputation management companies should provide services pro bono for some of the unfortunate who are maligned online and do not know where to turn to for support.

As for me being in the reputation business myself, I do make it my business to help people whose reputations have been tarnished by explaining what they can do and where they might seek help. So I hope that I am doing my bit to narrow the reputation gap.

CEO Commitment to Sociability

photo_lg_chinaAs I mentioned, I am traveling in Asia to talk about social CEOs and generally spread the good word about our thought leadership and Weber Shandwick. It is so terribly interesting to present our research and learn what people have to say and listen to the kinds of questions they ask. Today in Shanghai  someone asked me what type of emotional commitment a CEO has to make to become a social CEO. What a great question! It definitely takes an emotional commitment. Not only does a CEO have to commit time and resources but there is a genuine personal commitment as that goes hand in hand with being social. You are putting yourself on the line as well as your ego. It also takes courage. In our new upcoming research which we have not released yet, executives are quite aware that being a social CEO takes courage. It is not for the faint-hearted. However, one CEO reminded me that the CEO job is all about risk anyhow. True. In addition, at a presentation yesterday  in Beijing, someone mentioned that even if you cannot get your CEO to be social (meaning using social media in some shape or form), CEOs need to commit to "the intrinsic value of sociability." He rightly said that sociability (whether online or not) should not be ignored in this business environment. It can make a significant difference. Smart advice.

@ceo

gaines-ross-1000-100x100As you already know, I am keenly interested in how CEOs manage their tenures. In my book on CEO reputation, I referred to the various stages of a CEO's tenure as the seasons of a CEO. When I wrote it several years ago, it started with the Countdown period (pre-announcement), the first 100 days, the first year, the middle years and ends with the last 100 hours and legacy-setting. Since then, I have continued to follow CEOs closely but have been particularly fascinated by how CEOs can use social platforms to build their companies' reputations and to some extent, their own. That is what I explained in this new article on CEOs getting social in their early tenure. (See also Weber Shandwick's Socializing Your CEO II) Surprising to me, despite billions of people communicating and socializing online, little has changed in experts’ advice to CEOs or other executives on how to navigate their early tenure by taking advantage of social tools. In three separate research investigations on how CEOs spend their time by Harvard Business School, the European University Institute and the London School of Economics, and Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti, the words “social” or “digital” did not appear once in the nearly 30,000 words written.   Management consultants’ white papers on CEO transitions reveal little attention to how to effectively use social platforms.  I have about 15 articles with smart advice on CEO successions and transitions that I send to new CEOs and not one mentions using social media. Further still, an online search of the most relevant 30 hits for “how CEOs should use social media in their first 100 days” does not retrieve a concise blueprint whatsoever. Instead, the mentions consist of lists of Twittering CEOs, reasons why CEOs don’t use social media, events and primers for getting into the social game, articles written by CEOs of digital agencies, and do’s and don’ts for CEOs who use social media.

Social media should be incorporated into new CEOs’ early playbooks. Whether CEOs are communicating, engaging in two-way conversation or simply listening in, social media platforms should be gradually adopted.  As technology increasingly permeates all aspects of business and society, CEOs cannot afford to be out of touch with their cultures, how their products or services are being received and what their competitors are up to. Moreover, as the next generation of technology-literate CEOs start taking office as 77 million baby boomers leave the stage, being socially-literate will become the norm, not the exception.

For these reasons and because all these management consultants seemed to be overlooking social media as a leadership tool in their early CEO days, I wrote this article titled Get Social: A Mandate for New CEOs. It just appeared this week on MIT Sloan Management Review's nicely redesigned Social Business site. Please take a look if you are a new CEO and getting the social bug! Or if you are advising CEOs to jump on the social bandwagon even a little. I firmly and proudly believe that this might be the first (or among the very first) articles on how and why CEOs should be social citizens at the start of their tenures and not wait til their seasons come to an end. There are some great examples from CEOs and presidents of companies such as Aetna, Etsy, GM, MassMutual, Best Buy and BAE.

Being Rich presents Reputation Risk

Totally fascinating to me that China releases a list of its wealthiest citizens, similar to the Forbes 400. The list, Hurun Report, had some amazing facts worth sharing and which I learned about reading The Economist. The leading source of wealth came from individuals making their living off of manufacturing and not real estate as it was one year ago.  There were also interesting correlations between wealth and zodiac signs with those born in the year of the Rabbit outranking those born in the year of the Snake (2nd) and year of the Dragon (3rd). At the bottom of China’s wealthiest 1000 individuals are those born in the year of the Ox. The reputation of the Ox is in danger. But most interesting was the downfall of some of those who make the Hurun or the Forbes Wealthiest people list. There is greater scrutiny from tax collectors, regulators and the public. There is even a book titled “The Curse of Forbes” which describes the problems that surface when being lauded as one of the nation’s richest.  In a report that the article cites, researchers found that those companies headed by entrepreneurs who make the list find that their market value declines sharply three years afterwards.  Clearly, being on a rich list in China brings the bad with the good and puts reputations in jeopardy.  The Economist title was “To Get Rich Is Not Always Glorious.” An apt headline.