The risks of bad e-reputation

Impression

Whether it’s a company, an organization or a person, the (e-)reputation is a complex concept to define and track. Yet its deterioration could lead to dramatic and measurable consequences.

Why we want a good e-reputation

Companies with good reputation attract success more easily than others, first by attracting the right partners, co-workers, or even customers.

The good reputation of a company is seen as adding extra value to its products and services. This allows them to set higher prices. Also, their customers are loyal. And because these loyal customers also pay for a positive experience with the company they know and love, they might be interested in a wider range of products and services.

Because investors believe that these companies will generate stable earnings and future growth, their shares are more valuable.

Besides, non-quantifiable strengths of a company might be affected by a bad reputation, such as brand equity, intellectual capital, staff motivation…

Internet disrupted the time and measurement scale of businesses’ image

And today, as the era of Web 2.0, (the social web,) the negative experiences quickly turn viral on social networks.

Example:

For a few years, the school Supinfo has been known for paying its teachers late. As a result, qualified teachers don’t want to work with them and the school struggle to replace a leaving teacher. To fill the shortage of teachers, Supinfo develops a system that allows them to hire their own successful students as teacher-students: in return, these students are exempt from some classes and exams that are usually mandatory for receiving the diploma.

In addition to the deterioration of the teachers’ qualifications (and thus the quality of the education they offer), one consequence of the shortage of teachers is that Supinfo can’t provide quick appointments to students having to take an oral exam, delaying their diplomas. And all of this contributes to reinforcing their bad reputation.

Indeed, the role of the customer is evolving: he can act on the consumption habits by giving his opinion, inquiring before purchasing, discussing with other customers, etc. So the e-reputation is now a major factor in the success or failure of a business.

The 3 main risks of having a bad e-reputation

  • Informational abuses, including the dissemination of negative consumer reviews, denigration, rumor and the spreading of false information.

The modern consumer does not buying anything on the internet without having done a minimum of investigation. He will trust another internet user more than a commercial representative, because he believes the other user wants to share his real experience while the representative wants to sell something. Thus, depending on the product or service a business sells, the sales volume might be affected by informational abuses.

Also, if the company is publicly listed, these types of actions can lead the stock price to decline.

  • Violations relating to identity, such as the misappropriation of a logo, usurpation or diversion of a brand or product.

These violations make a company lose grasp on its own communication. Most users are not able to distinguish a fake from the real communication of the brand.

  • Technical infringements, such as phishing, hacking, flog, splog, cybergriping or cybersquatting.

Phishing: to make someone think he’s talking to a company or someone he trusts to get personal information.
Hacking: to abuse security holes of a website, to change something in it, to get confidential information, or just to brag: pointing to the inability of the company to keep the information users might have given them confidential.
Flog: a fake blog looking like it’s owned by a consumer, when actually it’s owned by communication professionals.
Splog: contraction of spam and blog. These blogs are usually full of hyperlinks leading to another website to boost its SEO. It might include copy-pasted content from other websites.
Cybergriping: to use a domain name associating the name of a company and a pejorative term. Ex.: www.jeboycottedanone.fr.
Cybersquatting: to buy domain name(s) of a company before they do it. The e-reputation of the company is indirectly threatened as it depends on how the domain name will be used.

Get a strategy to not only develop but protect the e-reputation

For the past few years, to protect their e-reputation, companies and individuals have started to monitor their e-reputation, and to set up prevention mechanisms, as well as rectification or « counter-attack » ones.

Here are 3 quick wins to prevent a bad e-reputation:

  • Staff awareness: employees make good ambassadors on social networks.
  • Confidentiality clauses: prevent any disclosure of confidential information.
  • E-reputation monitoring software: save time and avoid missing any information.

These are obvious quick prevention solutions. Yet a company might want to hire an e-communication professional such as a social media manager or a community manager who can commit time to develop a really efficient communication strategy on social networks.

 

Auto-favorite on Twitter, good or bad idea?

autofav

More and more services are created in order to help users of social networks to automate some actions.

This is why some Twitter users, in a need to make their reputation grow quickly, use a method called auto-favorite.

Auto-favorite: what is it?

This function allows the user to define a trigger. Automatically, the tweets that fire the trigger will be added in his favorite list. The trigger could be for instance a #hashtag.

The favorite list of a Twitter account is a public list. But I doubt that it’s really consulted by the followers, except if the Twitter account is really famous in its topic.

According to this statement, you may be wondering what the interest in the auto-favorite function is.

Follow the latest news about a topic

It may help you for the monitoring of a topic. Twitter doesn’t send a notification each time someone is talking about your topics of interest, but thanks to the auto-favorite, you can find everything that is happening around a topic in your favorite list.

Of course if you use social medias you might be following more than one topic. That’s why an auto-favorite list is not enough for a good monitoring of these topics and you would rather use specific social media monitoring tools such as Hootsuite, Social Mention, Twazzup, Addictomatic, IceRocket, TweetDeck

Get more followers

The author of the tweet is notified if his tweet has been favorite, so is his ego. He will probably take a look at your own profile. And if your tweets are about the same topic you used as keywords in your trigger, it may interest him so he will start to follow you: congratulations, your number of followers is increasing!

Nevertheless, if you don’t have anything else to offer to your new follower, this may not lead to a quality relationship and he may soon unfollow you.

On the screenshot on top of this article, you can see that I posted a tweet including the #hashtags #Facebook and #SocialMedia and, as a result, no fewer than six twitter accounts automatically added my tweet to their favorites. If I consult their profiles, I can see they have between 850 and 6.500 favorite tweets each. Moreover, they don’t tweet any unique or interesting content, they mostly retweet stuff, and they don’t talk about #SocialMedia or #Facebook as the auto-favorite could have suggested. They don’t even speak the same language as my original tweet. To make it short, because of this auto-favorite function, they look like spam accounts.

Automation can not replace quality

To conclude, auto-favorite is not a miracle tool. Developing one’s reputation on internet definitely requires time and real commitment.

Obviously, having numerous followers is more attractive as it may imply the Twitter account behind this number is trendy. But the most important is that this community must be real indeed and interactions must be possible and actually happen between the followers and the Twitter account.

 

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