Why reputation management is as important as ever (hint: because Google says so)
Google changed the game for marketers and communicators last month when it became a real-time search engine. Little was known about how Google's algorithms changed to integrate social media-based content into its search results. But MIT's Technology Review got the scoop on that this week in an interview with Google Fellow Amit Singhal.
In essence, Google adapted its core algorithm to rank information like Tweets in much the same way it has ranked web pages for a long time. Here is how Singhal boiled it down:
"You earn reputation, then you give reputation."
Think about this. To Google, reputation is the most important thing. This is true of basic web content, but now there is the added dimension of social content. This is determined by how important others think you are, how credible you are to your public, and how much you help meet the needs of those in your (buying) community.
To me, this points to the importance of reputation management, something that communications and PR has owned for a long time. As with many other things in business, reputation management is becoming more critical than ever now that a company's buying public can turn to peers for information and opinion as easily as traditional sources of information.
It’s important to understand how to use social media tools, but it’s most important to have a baseline understanding of your reputation before you begin a social media program and to be using social media in the right ways at the right times. It isn't about sizzle through animated Facebook Fan pages or overdesigned social microsites. Earning reputation in this context comes down to how well you can tell your story in an authentic way that the buying public -- and influencers -- want to share with others.
What this means (and how we are working with our clients) is being informative to your buying public in the same way the best journalists are. It means letting the personality of your people come through your blogs in a way that allows your buying public to connect with them. It means providing as much context or examples as possible when talking about the problems you help customers solve. It means being willing to use social media to comment on what other influencers or competitors have to say about larger market issues (at the right time and in the right way).
It also means listening and understanding how others with reputation are talking about you and engaging them in a way that shows you are paying attention and you care what they have to say. Finally, it means monitoring how your reputation changes along the way and adjusting your approach.
This is why a good communications partner is important for companies to adapt their approach to reputation management. It's a risk for you to rely on digital services firms for your social media foray, as reputation management has to include strategic communications people -- both the internal team and on the agency side — the ones who manage your reputation and your content every day.
I'd love to know if you agree or disagree in the comments, as we care what you have to say.