Social reputation

February 11, 2009

Social reputation

  Had a good start to the day. Today was our first event related to the launch of our new research on managing reputation online. Weber Shandwick’s Cambridge office hosted a breakfast panel to discuss “e-defense” or as someone said it should be called “e-offense.” I was joined on the panel by John Carroll, professor of mass communication and senior media analyst at Boston University and WBUR-FM; blogger John Cass, author of Strategies and Tools for Corporate Blogging; and Brian Kenny, chief marketing and communications officer at Harvard Business School.  As we discussed the state of online reputation management among executives, a whole host of interesting thoughts arose. Some were:

  • Companies need to build infrastructure to manage online reputation and online intelligence. Not everyone will have 40 to 50 people such as Dell but some companies are at least hiring a single individual to be in charge of their social reputation.
  • A generational divide exists in understanding the Web. Older generation leaders are more apt to say “Oh, that’s a Web thing. I don’t really have to worry about that.”  However, this type of attitude is risky and some older generation leaders need to get web 101 training or digital boot camp or they will be left behind.
  • Look for the opportunities as well as the risks.
  • Discussed Web 3.0 technologies that are available that use text analysis to track and monitor reputations online
  • There are several “freemium” products available to help companies manage their online reputations or at least get started (such as Google or Twitter alerts). What is freemium? According to Wikipedia, it was first defined by a venture capitalist as “Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.”
  • Discussed whether J&J reacted too quickly to the Motrin Mom episode. How do you know when criticism requires a response? At what level? One panelist thought they reacted too quickly and another said they responded appropriately.

A woman from the audience asked the last question …“What is a win today? It used to be that an article in the top tier traditional media was a win. Is it now?”  John Carroll’s answer was right on. He said…”There is no finish line anymore.”


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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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