How to find success in the “reputation economy”

How to Find Success in the “Reputation Economy”

In May 2011, the Reputation Institute hosted the 15th International Conference on Corporate Reputation, Brand, Identity and Competitiveness. Its theme? Navigating the Reputation Economy.

The notion of a reputation economy is likely a strange concept to most individuals, but the basic idea behind the expression is easy to understand.

This article will explore what it means to live in a reputation economy, and how everyone, from small business owners to Fortune 500 CEOs, should take the time to consider their reputations both online and offline. By reading on, you will learn how to find success in the “reputation economy”.


What is the reputation economy?

As explained by the Reputation Institute, the reputation economy is “a world in which perceptions are reality, in which reputation dynamics drive value creation and value destruction.” In somewhat simpler terms, the reputation economy is one in which a company’s reputation determines its success.

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This idea isn’t new. As the old saying goes, “A man is only as good as his name.” For years, companies have focused on building strong reputations based on quality products, attentive customer service and responsible corporate governance.


How does the Web affect the reputation economy?

What is different about the reputation economy today is the role that the Internet, and social media websites in particular, plays in shaping reputations. Because of social sharing, what might have been localized incidents of employee misconduct can now spread across the world in minutes.

For example, Domino’s Pizza faced a torrent of criticism after three employees posted a video of themselves doing disgusting things to customer orders. The incident didn’t reflect the corporate standards of Domino’s Pizza, but the widespread popularity of the video still managed to hurt the credibility of the entire brand.

Likewise, BP found itself in the Web’s crosshairs after an offshore drilling platform exploded, covering the Gulf Coast in oil. Despite the company’s attempts to mitigate the disaster with aggressive public relations efforts, live Web streams of crude oil pouring into the ocean (and the inspired work of a phony Twitter account) were more successful in shaping perceptions of the company.

The interactive nature of the social Web means that reputations can turn on a dime. It’s not uncommon for one blogger’s customer service horror story to be picked up by major news media like CNN or FOX News. Similarly, a verbal gaffe by a corporate leader might become a trending topic on Twitter within hours, even minutes. Despite the risks, however, there are definite opportunities for businesses to build their reputations online.


How to find success in the “reputation economy”

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Just as a negative news story can make its way across the Web in the blink of an eye, a truly compelling positive story can launch a brand overnight. Positive online reputation management, coupled with a proactive focus on engaging customers openly and honestly, can help companies secure their reputations from potential negative feedback and gain valuable real estate on search engines like Google and Bing. This is one of the best ways of how to find success in the “reputation economy”.

In addition to developing online reputation management solutions for customers, companies must also deliver positive messages to shareholders and employees. On the Web, nothing is straightforward. Negative content can and will come from multiple sources. Prospering in the reputation economy means understanding how each facet of your company’s communications efforts affects your brand — and then creating strategies to reflect those realities.

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