Reputation in a Petri Dish

April 01, 2010

Reputation in a Petri Dish

   Attended an interesting roundtable yesterday hosted by Business Marketing Association and Forbes. The topic was managing reputation in the new world of the Internet. Some interesting points surfaced:
• It is easier now to track reputation and ROI with the Internet. However the field of social media is so new that it is very difficult to track back to a baseline.

• Marketers are now interested in reputation as they realize that the company behind the brand matters. CMOs are the new entry point into companies as they see the connection more vividly. Product marketing is not enough.

• Perception is nice to have but behavior is have to have. You need your customers to act – buy your products, give you the benefit of the doubt in time of crisis, recommend you to others, spread word-of-mouth.

• Social media is the new Petri dish.

Reputation Institute’s Anthony Johndrow reported on a study among CMOs and CCOs. They found that 97% are interested in reputation, 89% are doing something in the space but only 33% are measuring its impact. Disturbing when companies spend so much on reputation in general.

• We should be referring to “social business” not “social media.”

• Integration between traditional and social is key.

• One of the reasons more companies become social is that competitors force their hands. When a competitor starts using Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, its rivals are propelled into this new world.

• Sometimes your critics can be your best advocates. An example was given of a relentless critic who also links to company articles mentioned on Twitter that promote the company’s point of view. So your online enemies can also get your word out if you just time it right.

Everyone agreed that reputation has become more complex, harder to manage and everyone’s job. In addition, the bar is now not as high or as low as it was just one year ago. Since so many companies are now using Twitter for engaging customers and neutralizing reputation damage, some of the early examples such as Dell and Comcast are just that – text book examples and expected today.

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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 corporate and CEO reputations.

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