Social Media and Reputation
A while ago I wrote a paper on social media and reputation. Specifically, I looked at whether or not having a blog was a viable means of promoting and controlling corporate reputation.
Here's a few paragraphs to see if I can tempt you to read it all.
"The introduction of the Internet, and its integration into society, offered huge potential to companies seeking to form bonds or relationships with consumers, yet also gave the once docile consumer an immense amount of power. Consumers now have unprecedented access to information via consumer groups, discussion groups, pressure groups etc, and it is accessible to anyone, at anytime. Generation X, and Generation Y are yesterday’s labels. Today, as Solove claims; we are Generation Google (2007: 9). With this newfound knowledge and power and with a desperate need to identify and communicate, trust between consumer and company has diminished enormously. Faced with this realisation, companies have had to reassess their strategy in order to survive in the global marketplace. Brand simply just isn’t enough to form a relationship between socially and politically aware consumers. Companies are realising that a more basic, intrinsic – a more ‘human’ – characteristic is needed to communicate, and that characteristic is now reputation.
Reputation is bestowed up on organisations by people; by the consumers themselves. It is their ‘doing’ so to speak; their own views and experiences, and their friend’s views and experiences, and because of that; they are trustworthy. Reputations no longer exist solely in words which fade, or pages that rot; they are out there, permanently, for anyone to access and comment on. Having a reputation, means having a reputation online whether you like it, want it, promote it, or not. 63% of Generation Google will research products online before purchasing (Paul Greenberg cited in Gillin 2007: xiv), and it is this research that suggests a ‘ready made’ reputation, built up from facts and opinions, both positive and negative, from existing and potential customers.
Consumer groups, discussion forums, and comment sites have been present online for years now. Yet it is blogs that are really taking off, fast becoming the 21st Century’s gossip circles. With approximately 50 million blogs existing in 2006 (Solove 2007: 21), the concept of word of mouth has taken on a new meaning. It was said that a dissatisfied customer tells 10 people, but in this new age of social media, that same dissatisfied customer has the power to tell 10 million (Gillin 2007: 4). Blogs represent a new form of communication. They are ongoing conversations between the blogger and the world; interactive, extremely democratic, allowing anybody to say anything to anyone. They are made by people like you and I, covering almost any subject, and they are everywhere. This explosion in consumer-to-consumer communication can not be ignored by companies. Every word published online, every word read, every comment made and every link posted adds to the creation, or destruction, of reputation.
So where does this leave organisations? The concept of using reputation as differentiation has caught on quickly in the corporate world. After all, as individuals, we like to do business with people we trust, people we like – people who have a good reputation, and there’s no difference when it comes to companies. This human characteristic paves the way for a closer bond between company and consumer, yet with the humanity comes fragility. The proliferation of social media, although presenting many opportunities for corporations, such as networking and communication to stakeholders, also contains potentially devastating threats. Blogs in particular give anyone with a computer and an Internet connection effective publishing rights exponentially multiplying the power of one, and with that, power is taken out of the hands of companies, and placed into the hands of consumers. Faced with this radical shift in power, companies are forced in to a dilemma. They must differentiate via a more personal means, becoming more ‘transparent’ to the consumer, not only to differentiate, but also to create a bond. Yet by doing so, they must expose themselves completely. In this age of new social media, where no stone is left unturned, where rumours circulate globally in minutes, and where reputation is made and destroyed, what this paper will consider is;
To what extent are blogs a viable means of promoting and controlling corporate reputation?"
If that sounds like something you'd like more of, just click here.
There will be mistakes - I'm not perfect, but I do appreciate any construct criticism. Really I do!