Online rep manager = American cheese loaf

American cheese loaf

This is all the way wrong…

<Image http://www.flickr.com/photos/wordridden/205945730/>

John Naughton pointed me at this article in Nature about academics managing their online reputation. In a loose sense we all manage our identities, particularly online where it has the possibility of going beyond the current context. But the tale of people employing online reputation management companies made me sigh/smile/rant in equal measure (not a pretty facial contorsion I can tell you).

If you need to _employ_ a company to manage your online identity then you really haven't grasped it at all. It is exactly about connecting with you, and not some media company. Rather like 'white pop reggae' and 'American cheese loaf', 'online reputation management' are three words you never want to see used together. 

On the plus side I thought it demonstrated a good case for why academics should engage in social media sooner, rather than later. If you have established a good online network already then people may be more forgiving of an indescretion. It will depend on what it is, for example if I was found guilty of torturing puppies, I wouldn't get much sympathy, but maybe if it was revealed that I had bought my PhD with tokens from cereal packets then that doesn't really impact on any value I may have provided online (I didn't – it was tokens from biscuits). In social media you establish your own currency and value, and that is hard to fake or buy, so people will value that, or at least weight it against, other reputation damage.

 

7 Comments

  1. Tony Hirst says:

    Hmmm… one of the things I’ve been arguing might be a role for the library is in doing exactly this – reputation enhancement of an institution’s academics and outputs…

  2. Drnickpearce says:

    i think university press offices might start doing more than stuff like this (didn’t read the original article so don’t know if that was mentioned).
    a business school close to where i work *coughs* already employs a PR firm to boost their research and researchers. I wouldn’t be suprised if this included social media…

  3. Amcunningham says:

    I think we could forget about listening to you online if you were seen to have deceived us in that way. I might be wrong but I think the fact that you have offline credentials gives a lot of weight to your online influence.

  4. Alan levine says:

    Fake is the new transparent.
    Reputations built by management is like shoddy construction, doesn’t take long for the veneer to reveal.
    But that cheese loaf looks good.

  5. dkernohan says:

    I dunno – I read your stuff because you are interesting, informative and amusing. I’d be more likely to stop reading if you stopped being readable than if you turned out to be a twitterbot developed by Tony Hirst or to share an alma mater with Gillian McKeith.

  6. Pepsmccrea says:

    mmm indeed. the whole online identity is so up for abuse – wonder what will emerge in SoMe circles in response to the need for authenticity…

  7. You’re right about reputations Martin. Social Media can amplify a good reputation but also perhaps, a bad one too?

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