On the Internet, you have two reputations

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On the Internet, you have two reputations

Online you have one reputation with humans and another one with machines. Yes, machines — the search engines and databases that organise, store, graph and present the content that the humans see. If you’re concerned about online reputation management for business, executive or even personal issues, you need to start with the machines because that is where the collective knowledge (good and bad; your own content, and others’ content) about you is stored and retrieved from.

Machines don’t have opinions, they have binary

Human memory can retain impressions, prejudices and opinions for years, and can be hard to shift — especially if the reader or viewer is constantly exposed to messages that confirm his/her negative perceptions about a brand or a topic. Machines memory, on the other hand, can be re-programmed. I’m not talking about literally physically wiping and re-configuring a database… I’m referring to something much more subtle: Feeding the right information in the correct format into the key points in the stream of electronic signals flowing between content producers and content consumers. Once the machines that are the gatekeepers to the Internet process the new signals, the content they generate in response to searches, requests, and lookups will change.

Getting an “opinion” out of a machine

As noted, machines don’t do opinions. Or prejudices. Getting usable machine data is a two pronged approach.

  1. Quantify what signals are currently being transmitted about and by your brand and which are being accurately processed by machines (chances are they’re different from what you think).
  2. Next, first assign tasks to the areas you have control over (such as the Authority of your own servers, pages, profiles and content); then, assign tasks to areas you can influence but not control (such as the Engagement arena comprising social networks, online communities, Internet repositories and online databases, media and other influencer sites).

If you get these steps right, your content and messaging will gain maximum visibility on the traditional Web (in Web search engine indexes) and on the social Web (in social search, in the blogosphere, the Twitterverse and the like).

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