Online Reputation is a reality

Online reputation is a topic that I have studied since 2008 when Barack Obama became the first US “social media president”.  Since then, I have worked to understand how the Internet could be used to create a reputation based on the online footprint organisations and people leave on the Internet.

In 2013, I presented at the Université Toulouse 1 Capitole (France) a scientific article in co-authorship with Dr. José Piñuel Raigada, my thesis supervisor and professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The symposium was called E-réputation et traces numériques: Dimensions instrumental et Enjeux de Société. My article addressed an increasingly relevant aspect of social pressure in organisations, which is online activism. After many years since those pioneering times, I see that the construction of the reputation mediated by digital technology is a fact, despite the initial skepticism of some more orthodox authors. Possibly they lacked the necessary models and background to understand what is, in short, a different world with different rules. Fortunately, I have made the transition from offline to online since 1997 with the beginning of the commercial Internet.

The fact is that today is unthinkable a minimally sophisticated company operating without making use of the central elements of online reputation management. In my opinion these are, in basic terms: a monitoring system, a strategic plan to develop the presence and interactions in the digital ecosystem (website, social networks, apps, etc.), and the key plans of a tactical program to create and sustain online reputation. These plans are: a viral marketing plan, an online PR plan, the optimised presence in search engines via SEO or SEM, the online customer experience and, finally, risk and crisis management plans in place to handle empowered stakeholders, such as online activists.

The importance of traditional media in the construction of the reputation continues to exist, but, as  we could see in the recent scandal of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the territory of the construction (or destruction) of the reputation of individuals or companies is getting more and more online. Trust is increasingly more digital and less analog.


Strategic decisions in the Digital Age

The ability to make sound decisions is probably the main requirement that is expected from an executive, in the creation of a strategy or implementation of  the plans. But, in the Digital Age, we need to rethink how to make decisions on such environment. With the currently abundance of data and factors such as hyper competitiveness, permanent revision of business models and the pressure for innovation in increasing speed, it is expected that there will be an important influence of such an environment in decision making. Time, in the Digital Age, is of essence, for example, but there are other factors, of course.

This blog will not venture much into the cognitive or psychological part of how the influence of such new environment occurs. What interests me most is to identify what is happening and what are the challenges in the Digital Age that change (or not) some important marketing and communication practices. From there, my goal is to search for some principles – and learn from them.

Because deciding in the Digital Age is, surely, reviewing beliefs, practices and imagining the future in a way that is not simply a continuation of the past. It is risky in nature because digital technology is only beginning to present its possibilities. Therefore, we have to learn or learn.

The dangers of reductionism in decisions

Reality, as Martin and Smith observe in their Harvard Business Review article on the limits of management as a science, is more complex and we should not think that with more data, algorithms and AI we will always make better decisions. That can be a dangerous reductionism.»Innovators often incorporate scientific discoveries in their creations, but their real genius lies in their ability to imagine products or processes that simply never existed before», they comment. That is, we must find the logic in the uncertainty, and in the same without all the data find solutions, which is, after all, what is expected of an executive. As Martin and Smith also observe, «the data is nothing more than evidence, and it is not always obvious what this evidence refers to. In addition, the absence of data does not invalidate a possibility. If you are talking about new consequences and behaviors, then naturally there is no prior evidence. » The Digital Age is not just bytes, data and algorithms, much less the linear continuity of what science prescribed in the past. It’s much more than that. It is, as it was with other similar revolutions, the effect of new technologies on society in a way that is sometimes disruptive and unpredictable. Therefore, we have to understand it well so we will be to play with fire: all the possibilities that the digital technology opens to us.

Like the Phoenix: we need to unlearn to learn how to decide in the Digital Age

Welcome to my new blog. With the Digital Age there is a vigorous transformation underway in different areas of society, which makes us rethink what happens in our lives with the impact of technology: as executives, academics, consumers, voters, or just as citizens. The importance of this topics lies in the fact that we know that changes in society are the main source for those who make decisions in marketing and communication, so we need to understand exactly what is going on.

This blog seeks to find explanations and identify ways to navigate this new environment. It’s my fourth blog, so I already have some experience. The first one was in 2008 on Communication and Marketing in general, and it was my way of presenting myself in Europe after I left Brazil in 2007. I published 143 posts on that blog. The second one, started in the end of 2011, was about Online Crisis and Reputation, and it was one of the first blogs about the global issue on the subject. It was an exciting project, achieved considerable recognition in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries. It was also an important tool to develop ideas and content for my classes and for my PhD thesis in online reputation and crisis management by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid finished in 2015 with a Cum Laude mark. Later, when I moved to London in 2014, I started another blog, in English, but the truth is that I did not devote the necessary time to do it as I wanted. And a blog is like a baby or a plant: it demands dedication and care.

Now, this blog is my rebirth as a blogger and I trust I will have fun, which is one of the main reasons for blogging! He is as generic as my first blog, which gives me the freedom to approach different topics based on my practical and academic knowledge. But, at the same time, it is also focused on an objective aspect that has caught my attention in recent years: the changes in marketing and communication (and in society as a whole) as a result of the Digital Era and its impact on strategic decision making. The issue of creating trust in digital environments will be something frequent as it was in my blog about online reputation, and crisis cases will be inevitable, but there will be space for other topics, so I will also be addressing critical issues related to the management of marketing and communication departments, such as digital strategy, demand generation, research or branding, among other topics of the moment.

Surely there will be much to write and share from my professional career, academic experience or lectures. I hope we see each other many times around here for this new journey.

La reputación online es un hecho

La reputación online es un tema que he estudiado desde 2008 cuando Barack Obama logró ser el primer presidente norteamericano elegido claramente por el uso de las redes sociales. Desde entonces, busqué comprender cómo se podría usar Internet para crear una reputación, sobre todo en el ámbito empresarial. En 2013, presenté en la Université Toulouse 1 Capitole (Francia) un artículo científico en co-autoría con José Piñuel Raigada, mi orientador de tesis y catedrático de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid.  El simposio se llamaba  E-réputation et traces numériques: Dimensions instrumentales et enjeux de société.  Mi artículo abordaba un aspecto cada vez más relevante de la presión social en las organizaciones, que es el activismo online.  Pasados muchos años desde aquellos tiempos pioneros, veo que la construcción de la reputación mediada por la tecnología digital es un hecho, a pesar del escepticismo inicial de algunos autores más ortodoxos. Posiblemente a ellos les faltaban los modelos necesarios para comprender lo que es, en definitiva, otro mundo.

Hoy es impensable para una empresa mínimamente sofisticada existir sin los elementos centrales de la gestión de la reputación online: un sistema de monitorización, un plan estratégico para desarrollar la presencia y las interacciones en el ecosistema digital (website, redes sociales, apps, etc.), y los planes básicos de un programa de creación y sostenimiento de la reputación online: plan de marketing viral, RRPP online, presencia en buscadores, experiencia del cliente y gestión de riesgos y crisis.

La importancia de los medios tradicionales en la construcción de la reputación sigue existiendo, pero, como se puede ver en el escándalo reciente de Facebook y Cambridge Analytica, el territorio de la construcción (o destrucción) de la imagen y reputación de personas o empresas se produce cada vez más en el ámbito online. La confianza es cada vez más digital y menos analógica.