Who is Responsible for your Organisation’s Online Reputation?

Who is responsible for your organisation’s online reputation? Is it the Public Relations Department, Corporate Affairs or IT?

Question 1If it is predominantly IT there is a danger involved. The danger is that IT people tend to worry about technical aspects whilst there is a definite need to factor in stakeholder engagement, user experiences & strategic communication angles in online reputation Management.

Who manages the organisation’s Facebook presence? Who advises management about blogging and other social media strategies? What about access to your website by the visually challenged?

Online Reputation has become such an important priority that there are now companies around the Globe that specialise in it full-time.

Although many definitions of ORM abound, this one comes close for me. Online Reputation management is “the practice of consistent research and analysis of one’s personal or professional, business or industry reputation as represented by the content across all types of online media”. The aim of Online Reputation Management is to increase your overall web presence in positive way.

Example – When last have you googled your own name or entered it into a variety of search engines and analysed the results?

Online or Social media comprise a loosely defined collection of blogs of all sizes and interests, and cyber-space gathering spots such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, the list is endless – and growing.

Traditional media like newspapers, radio and television have seen their income plunge as advertisers follow their customers to the web.  As information consumers have moved to the web to gather news, opinion and data – increasingly through their cell phones or PDAs -  the influence of traditional media has declined while that of the bloggers and other social media commentators appears to have increased.

Recent research from Burson- Marsteller reports that in the US alone, there are now 20 million bloggers, some 2 million of whom are paid something for their efforts and almost 500 thousand of whom blog full time for a living. To put that in perspective, more people in the US make their living as bloggers than as computer programmers or firemen.

This means that a growing though not yet dominant element of the population is forming its views based on sources which are not traditionally filtered or necessarily expert. In addition, the demographics on social media participation are shifting: in the US, 52% are women and 45% men. Women over age 40 are the fastest growing segment.

Even in Africa, they are working on becoming connected in a big way.

I read an article that stated: ‘’This wave of information, data and opinion –with its correspondingly receptive audience, both feeds and benefits from the trends towards multi-stakeholder dialogue in corporate communications, particularly as individuals seek to inform themselves and make up their own minds in the post crisis era.  Corporate communicators should develop a better understanding of how social media participants choose and sustain affiliations, form opinions and make their social or economic decisions through these channels’’.

ORM is a vital management process in building reputation with stakeholders and should be part of your Stakeholder Reputation engagement strategies and strategic communications plans. Are you clued up?

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