Ronan Chardonneau, EMBS alumni and associate professor in online marketing, is regularly writing for TALK Magazine. Today, he is sharing his experience of e-reputation. When Laetitia told me that the broad topic of the next TALK newsletter will be about e-reputation, I just thought,hold on wait a second, I may have something for you. I am teaching e-reputation for more than 3 years now at the University of Angers (Northwestern part of France) within a master program in HR and technologies. I also worked within web agencies in order to protect defend the reputation of our clients, it includes famous lawer, senator, businesses. The purpose of my article is to give you a couple of tips in order to start working on your own on online reputation.
What you need to know about e-reputation:
I think you are big enough in order to read wikipedia articles and understand e-reputation but the most challenging part is about learning how to do it. How to practice e-reputation?
1st: Understand what is the web
e-reputation is nothing more than content which is posted somewhere on the internet. It can start on Twitter, in a press release website, a private forum, reviews in an app store… Once you understand where the content is, who put it there, who can access it, how you can modify it… then things get clearer. Understanding what is the web and how it works take a lot of time. It is not really technical it just need a LOT of general culture about technologies. If you want to start I strongly advise you to follow the following course (it is in French but it is free) Openclassroom.com.
2nd: Understand how your target is working
Understanding the web is great but the content is posted on a website and you need to understand how this specifically website is working in order to define a strategy. Basically this strategy can go to simple things to really really complex. As an example: get the direct contact of the guy who posted the message, answer to the message publicly on the website, pushing away the content within Google, treatening the websmaster, hacking the website…
3rd: If you want to solve the issue then talk directly with the guy
That’s the thing you do not want to do but that can be quickest way and the simplest. When an e-reputation case happens there is always the one who is posting the nasty messages and the other one trying to defend himself. He hates you, you hate him and so far you and him are just making the internet bigger with horrible messages. This guy wants something from you, you just need to get in direct contact with him in order to know how much does he want. If you are not cold enough ask a third party to negotiate. In any cases the more messages are posted the worst it is.
4th: Use APIs
In order to follow your e-reputation you will see that a lot of software are available on the market. Most of them are freemium (made in order to make you addict) softwares which allow you to do business intelligence on the most famous platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… few people know that but with a bit of coding you could create your own business intelligence softwares without any restrictions and monitor exactly what you want. It is all about asking yourself the right questions and take some time on your week ends in order to investigate how does those websites and the web work.
5th: Experiment it… if you can
Last time I did e-reputation my wife told me that it is one of the reason why she is hesitating taking my family name, playing e-reputation in order to attack someone can be tricky. As Google is the most used website in the world, e-reputation relies a lot on search engine optimization skills. If you have a bad experience with a business, just look at their website and see if they are well optimized on their brand name. If that is not the case just publish an article on a third party platform such as a wordpress.com website. If you are carefully following the pieces of advice from the official guide on Google you may soon ranked very close to the business you want to bug. If you are lucky enough the story should end well. I remembered when I attacked the famous hotels.com website, I got like a huge discount within one of their hotel. I also attacked the business which sold my wedding costume (I am a bit crazy) and it end up fine, even if the owner swear he would ruin my university career thanks to his personal contacts. E-reputation is really a huge topic where you can learn a LOT. If not use to attack someone you can use it for personal branding (it means that you are taking all the good opportunities in order to make yourself positively visible on websites), I used to doing that a lot, and it works. The problem is the day when you want to disappear, you need to access back all the websites you “advertise” in and it is a lot of work.
My best story about e-reputation:
It happens this summer 2015, I was resting at my parents house and looked at the newspaper. On the first page of the newspaper one of my students was suing the university master program where I am teaching. A couple of minutes later my phone was ringing, my colleague at the uni informing me about the information I just read. This story went quite fare as it ended at the TV, LCI, which belongs to TF1, the biggest TV channel in France and most of the French newspapers (Figaro, Le Monde), not to mention Twitter :P. To sum it up the story, the student has been refused in Master 2 because his grades were not good enough and failed the motivation interview we are making in order to pass from Master 1 to Master 2. What the student did? He hired the best lawyer specialized in uni litigations and sue us on the basis that if the student pass his master 1 he can apply to any master 2 he wants and has to be accepted right away. The story went within the media who just selected the information they were interested in, so they selected the fact that we mentioned that the student had no interest in ICT and as an example does not even have a Twitter account. To make it simple the press titled it as “Refused to a master because he did not have a Twitter account”, you can imagine the big mess which happen after (just type in “master twitter angers” in Google and you will see) I learnt a lot thanks to this case because for the first time, I was attacked (so far I always been the one who attacked or payed by third part in order to attack). What I loved the most within this story is to learn that some medias are just changing the information from source to source and manipulating people, when that’s the case e-réputation cannot save you much because whatever you say you will be identified as an asshole. I also saw the frustrutation that you have when you are working for a big institution. In my case (as a teacher) I did not have the right to speak, to answer, to defend myself publicly, the communication has to be centralized and this is the responsability of the communication department of the university. It really opened my eyes on many aspects.