The reputation economy is an outcome of the abundance of digitized information about who we are and what we deliver – whether in our work, our daily lives, our reviews of products, restaurants and services. We place an inherent amount of trust in other peoples reviews. Detailed reviews of product features, menu items provide us consideration points to guide decision making. Importantly, we value the reviewer and the contents of review in the defined context of the situation in which we are looking to apply the information. For a hotel, a colleague of mine wants it close to the office. I want a comfortable desk. We value the components of that room differently. However, I wouldn’t trust those hotel reviewers to provide me guidance on how to hire a great consultant.
Rachel Botsman discusses reputation influences in her fabulous TED talk on trust, economies and collaborative consumption. While some people like to think this is a new discussion, let me put that to rest – Fast Company wrote about in 2008, Forbes in 2007 – meaning you are likely out of excuses for the knowledge gap. The reputation economy – and the need for trust and context is now something you need to consider. Especially in light of reputation management – yours and others you consider. I offer you two examples that I think bear consideration.
Earlier this week, Linked In launched a new way to recommend someone simply and quickly: Endorsements. I like this idea I think. I am one of those people who is very cautious about writing recommendations. Partially because they require a lot of thought. But more, because they always need to be reciprocal and I was never really sure if it diminished their value. Yes, I have done it. However, I only do so when I truly think the nature of our business relationship and its context warrants.
So now, you can click on someone’s skills in a moment and endorse them. It’s easy to do. And for me, again, that might be part of the problem. I want to be deliberate and considerate in whom I endorse. I went on and endorsed 6 people so far. However, I am being offered up multiples at every turn. To me, this doesn’t just cause over-exposure, it also allows you to over-credit skills based on likability. It’s only a skill if I would pay top dollar to have you do that for my company.
Sorry, that sounds harsh. As long as people show discretion, it will be fine.
Then we get to Klout. Fortune seems to favor the frequent and over-exposed in this Klout-driven world. Also last week, Klout encourages employers to make hiring decisions based on their score - say what? I am glad my Klout is a 57, it seems like a good score to have but I have no clue what that means. It says I have 42% Facebook interactions – really? I log into Facebook once a day. I gave up on FourSquare because it told people stuff about me that simply was not valuable without delivering value in return (except in the form of a higher, and still dubious Klout score…circular logic if ever). What does Klout say about my reputation? Not much. It says even less about why someone should trust me, my work, my company. It simply means I am present and accounted for, and maybe even valued. But trusted, not so much.
I’d not trust a Klout score – if I were looking to hire someone, I’d look at their content. The score’s an aggregation of the unseen. The content is something we can search and assess. Is that the kind of thinking we value? Is this content engaging to the reader/reviewer? We all know the devil and the delight are in the details. So, why, praytell, would a high Klout score mean something to me on its own? People can game any of these systems – and that makes it a dicey proposition to treat any of the numbers as that magic bullet.
Recently, I was also invited to a conference on the basis of my Kred Score – where the discount I received was based on it. My Kred Score is 690 with an outreach level of 6 (or 50%). I have no idea, again, if my Kred score is good compared to my peers – who the heck do they consider my peers? I don’t know. When you do business and marketing strategy, the largest bulk of your work is not public on purpose. So, why would I want a client to evaluate this? Again, I would love for our clients and prospects to see my content, that of my team and my company. I would love for them to see how different we are than our competitors in our broad-based knowledge and the innovative methods we use. I believe we are unparalleled in how we view, implement and deliver tech for marketing. However, these are not reflected in their scores.
It’s actually something we are trying to change with #MKT_Innov8, our study of Marketing Innovation where we expose examples and approaches allowing the CMO to reclaim Marketing Innovation. I am partial to the Kred viewability, but still, it doesn’t give a lot of understanding on how they assign me a score. How can they value Innovation in the way the marketers I would like to influence value it? They can simply tell you I talk about it (endlessly, really).
Then there is Twylah – which creates a newspaper style feed of what you talk about. While it is kind enough to leave scores out of it, it’s a much nicer way to see what you’re talking about – and ensure you are providing the sorts of content you find valuable and you think your followers will as well.
PeerIndex allows you to see topics, but it puts Business – all business – in a single bucket. How could that be helpful to CMOs who want to hire my company to do marketing strategy and technology work? Those marketers, or the purchasing teams assisting them still have to go a lot deeper to see what might be a value to their specific context.
When we talk about marketing innovation, nay all innovation, we view it from the Kevin Kelly (Wired) perspective
The nature of an innovation is that it will arise at a fringe where it can afford to become prevalent enough to establish its usefulness without being overwhelmed by the inertia of the orthodox system.
That fringe – those people – have a specific context under which they are using the (fill in the blank). They are not the mainstream. Anything which serves the mainstream can only be marginally fit for purpose. In the reputation economy, and the job matching economy (seekers of work, contracts, engagements, service providers), don’t pay attention to the score. Absolutely aim for your context – and make sure what you see is indicative what you get.