Online reputation, a rising value

How much is our reputation worth? To respond to this issue we have to consider the relationship between reputation and success. And when I say “success” I mean achieving our objectives, both personal and professional. In certain groups, reputation is an essential element for its success or decline. We could include in that group people with public office as mayors, councilors, ministers, etc., but it also directly affects professionals from the private sector as actors, singers, designers and a long etcetera.

In this entry we’ll talk about the particularities of online reputation and see some examples that show its importance. Let’s start by defining what online reputation is. Although the concept has many corners worth to explore, the simplest definition comes courtesy of Wikipedia: The online reputation is a reflection of the prestige or esteem of a person or brand on the Internet.

It is known that to achieve and maintain a good reputation requires much effort, perseverance, dedication and time. On the other hand, “bad reputation” can be reached in the most unexpected moment as either hand of a scandal, a simple misunderstanding or an error. The same happens with “online reputation” but with the particularity that information technologies highlight the impact of our actions. If you are good, there are ways to publicizing, disseminate and make the most of our effort. However, our failures will also be more widespread, deeper and faster. Therefore, we could say that online reputation is more “fragile” than the reputation traditional concept. Needless to say that both concepts (reputation and online reputation) are closely linked.

To illustrate what we commented on the “fragility” of the online reputation, we will see some examples in which a unfortunate simple comment and/or misunderstanding has tarnished the reputation of some famous.

David Bisbal and his trip to Egypt (David Bisbal is a very famous Spanish singer). Maybe you know the case of the unfortunate David Bisbal tweet but if you don’t, I’ll do a quick summary. Last February 2011, when the Egyptian people was trying to overthrow Mubarak’s regime, David Bisbal released in his Twitter something as this: “I have never seen the pyramids of Egypt so empty, hopefully the revolt finishes soon“. This generated the reaction of hundreds of Internet users who mocked and ridiculed the singer by the frivolity of his commentary. Probably its intention was not to offend the sensibilities of anyone but he probably could have chosen another way to express solidarity with the Egyptian people.

Russian Red and the extreme thinness. Singer Russian Red has also received a good barrage of criticism following a comment that she published in her Twitter. In this case the message said: “The way to fight the lack of beauty is the extreme thinness“. She hastened to correct the comment indicating that everything had been a misunderstanding but the damage was already done. Many fans blamed her of promoting anorexia and finally she decided to close her Twitter account.

Personally I think that the first example is less important and so most users perceived it. Although they strongly criticized the singer, they understood that it was just an unfortunate comment without malice, and it had no further impact beyond the creation of “hashtags” and Facebook groups to keep on with the jokes.

The second case is more delicate. Many of the eating disorders that currently exist are result of the existing beauty canons and it is very difficult to fight the trends even when these are harmful to health. Take into account that many fans of the singer are teenagers willing to sacrifice their health in order to adapt to those beauty canons, so the fact that celebrities support or promote prototypes of beauty that may put young people in danger is perceived as irresponsible.

After the tweet, the manager of the singer rushed and said that as opposed to what was thought the tweet was a criticism of the extreme thinness. They finally decided to close Russian Red’s Twitter account and looks like that will be everything. The former designer of Dior John Galliano is another case with a different ending. In this case his error was not online but in a cafe where he said several racist and xenophobic statements which ended with her dismissal.

In the exposed cases, although the main affected ones are individuals their actions also affect their respective companies and the results of these can depend largely on their online reputation. In this regard, we find a clear example in the Spanish case “Telecinco: La noria – Pablo Herrero”. Without going into more detail that can be found at Spanish media, we highlight the fact that Telecinco has quantified in 3.7 million euros the economic losses arising from the “discredit campaign” that this person carried out.

Taking care of our reputation on the Internet is becoming increasingly important. This causes an increase in the demand for products and services related to the reputation online (also called digital reputation). Security measures that until now were applied by common sense, now are meticulously applied to reduce the impact on the image of the organization. Gradually, we see also a proliferation of “tools” such as TripAdvisor that allow customers to know companies online reputation (in this case, valuation of products and/or services related to traveling).

Given this situation and looking at the trends of the market, we can assure that online reputation has become an important element that will be soon a success critical factor for corporations. Online reputation is a rising value which must be protected from now onwards. It is in your hands to decide whether to invest in it or not.

[About Samuel Segarra]