Δείτε στο παράδειγμα πώς τα social media δημιουργούν ένα εντελώς νέο περιβαλλον επικοινωνίας στο οποίο η απώλεια του ελέγχου της εικόνας είναι αναπόφευκτη: Ένας επαγγελματίας της επικοινωνίας επικρίνει μια νέα διαδικτυακή social media πλατφόρμα στην οποία μπορεί ο καθένας να μπαίνει ανώνυμα και να σε αξιολογεί επαγγελματικά, λέγοντας χαρακτηριστικά: "it will be open season for anyone who wants to shoot you down. What are Unvarnished's creators thinking?". Μετά από λίγο, απαντά ένας από τους ιδρυτές της πλατφόρμας στα σχόλια και εξελίσσεται ένας πολύ ενδιαφέρων διάλογος. Διάλογος συμβολικός για το μέλλον της επικοινωνίας. Τα κείμενα δημοσιεύθηκαν στο blog The Conversation, στο site του Harvard Business Review. Διαβάστε παρακάτω:
Unvarnished: Your Personal Reputation in the Crosshairs
Is there someone out there who, for whatever reason, has it in for you? If so, ignoring them has just gotten harder — a lot harder — thanks to a new and highly controversial social media site called Unvarnished (currently in the hands of beta testers). It's a site where anyone can post a review of anyone else, rating them on their skills, productivity, relationships, and integrity.
Many of these reviews may be glowing, as they tend to be on LinkedIn. But since this site allows raters to remain anonymous, many others will undoubtedly be, to say the least, unvarnished. If you're on Facebook, you're fair game, because Unvarnished uses Facebook Connect. If you're not on Facebook, fans or detractors can still post an assessment in the same way they can create a Wikipedia entry about you. Whether their ratings are fair or unfair, your worldwide 360-degree review page will be open for business — and it will be open season for anyone who wants to shoot you down.
What are Unvarnished's creators thinking? How can this be good? With no accountability and no restraints, people will review and rate bosses who fired them, colleagues who rose above them, clients who complained about them, romantic targets who proved immune to their charms. Rumors, innuendo, and hearsay will be aired, regardless of whether even a scrap of truth lies beneath them.
True, Unvarnished allows you to respond to reviews, and you can always invite friends to rate you more highly. But in the absence of credentialed, independent third-party reviews, that may not provide much counterweight. Unvarnished promises it will remove "abusive" reviews. But it also states that abuses of expression, such as libel, are "very specific, legally defined condition[s]." There need not be restraints, it says, on opinions. How this will work in practice remains to be seen, but I suspect that the company's view of what constitutes abusive may be different from yours.
From my perspective, one good aspect of all this is that ordinary people may now begin to appreciate what companies have had to endure since social media tools first empowered one-off antagonists to blast them without warning. There may also be lessons to be learned from that quarter. The experience of companies who have successfully fought off reputation snipers suggest approaches that could work for individuals, too.
For example, having worked with many companies trying to protect their good names, I've come to appreciate how vital it is to be proactive and to respond at high speed. Take the recent example of an online attack on Starbucks. An email started making the rounds claiming that Starbucks had refused a request by US marines in Iraq for coffee because Starbucks' leaders "don't support the war and anyone in it." It was the kind of thing many companies in the past might have refused to dignify with a response. But knowing how quickly such allegations go viral, Starbucks aggressively took steps to discredit it. On its own website, it set forth the exact number of pounds of coffee it gave to the USO in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait. Then it made use of what I would call "force multipliers," referring critics to independent fact-checkers with established credibility like snopes.com, hoaxbusters.org, truthorfiction.com, and boycottwatch.org, all of which investigated and declared the rumor false.
Respected third parties, like the ones Starbucks used, can do much to credentialize a company, and use of them doesn't have to wait till there is a specific attack to be countered. Even better is when a company accumulates a trophy case full of awards and recognitions, all of which can be found online. This is part of the reason that firms avidly compete for honors like "best place to work," or "most ethical," or "most diverse." Such recognition helps give them the benefit of the doubt when a reputation sniper takes aim. It's hard to imagine that similar credentializing would not likewise be beneficial for individuals — and easy to imagine that, if sites like Unvarnished take off, individual honors, administered by trusted third parties, will proliferate.
Like companies, individuals will need to develop the habits and obtain the tools for fast threat-spotting, independent fact-checking, and third-party vetting. The new social media terrain has its sunny side of rich networking and collaboration. But it also has its dark side. Companies have already discovered this, and are learning to deal with it. As you try to protect your most valuable professional asset — your reputation — take note of what works for them, and learn to use it.
8:20 AM Thursday April 15, 2010
Leslie Gaines-Ross is Chief Reputation Strategist at Weber Shandwick.
April 15, 2010 at 11:19 AM
Hi there Leslie,
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on Unvarnished.
You ask "What are Unvarnished's creators thinking? How can this be good?"
We would submit that the good that we are trying to achieve is to bring more information transparency and portability to the world of professional reputation, breaking down information asymmetries, in much the same way that Amazon product reviews have for products, TripAdvisor has for hotels, Yelp has for restaurants, but also individual plumbers, dentists, doctors, and so on, and Avvo and RateMyProfessor have for Lawyers and Professors.
That is to say: provide a clearinghouse where individuals with past experience with a given professional can surface their experiences, such that prospective employees, employers, partners, vendors, and customers can make more informed decisions with more perfect information. Such that excellence is recognized and there is incentive for improvement. Markets breakdown in the absence of this sort of information flowing freely--which currently, professional reputation information flows solely along offline, sparse, and often broken word of mouth networks. We want to bring it into the internet age.
Unvarnished is a place that balances the interests of the profile owner, the reviewer, and the reader -- interests that can sometimes be in tension -- in such a way that no side's interests trumps...because we all find ourselves on each side of that conversation in our day to day work life.
There are for more strict safeguards in place than you acknowledge in your piece (my previous offer of getting you on the site to better inform your analysis still stands), because Unvarnished will not be successful in its goal if it is full of romantic innuendos (which, are not allowed on the site and grounds for account banning.)
If anyone reading this is interested in what we're up to, and how Unvarnished is posed as a valuable business tool, and not a junior high slam book as many pundits mistake it for, you can read more here:
About Unvarnished: http://www.getunvarnished.com/page/about_unvarnished
Unvarnished Community Guidelines: http://www.getunvarnished.com/page/community_guidelines
Managing Your Reputation on Unvarnished: http://www.getunvarnished.com/page/manage_reputation
April 15, 2010 at 4:06 PM
I agree that Unvarnished's site is likely to foster throwing "virtual tomatoes" at executives and individuals who may not deserve it without adding measurably to the development of useful criticism. Indeed, many existing approaches may be more effective -- such as speaking to Human Resources or using other internal procedures (hotlines come to mind). I remain unconvinced that adding anonymity will materially raise the level of worthwhile feedback.
What is clear, however, is that the drawbacks of such an anonymous site are likely to outweigh its benefits. A recent survey* from Microsoft reported that 70% of surveyed HR professionals in the U.S. have rejected a candidate based on online reputation information. This indicates that it will be far too simple for a disgruntled individual through sites such as Unvarnished to thwart someone's career prospects if such individual has it in for them.
Peter, I did read carefully the guidelines that you pointed me to. Those that I mentioned in my post seemed to me to be the ones most worthy of comment.
My basic premise is that there needs to be more accountability and responsibility when it comes to possibly tarnishing someone's reputation. As E.B. pointed out, these reviews will "remain in perpetuity." There is no digital eraser.
— Leslie Gaines-Ross