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Measuring reputations – between metrics and academics June 3, 2010

Posted by salla in Blogroll.
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If you go and ask Google Scholar, there’s a lot of research available on online reputation. However, it is usually referring to a concept describing the reputation metrics between users within online services, such as eBay for example, and the research concentrates on the areas of computational sciences and system analysis.  These calculations are about simple evaluations (usually star ratings of few attributes) and comments, but nevertheless a way to operationalize reputational evaluations and show them quickly in a comprehensible way.

In fact, as far as I know, the calculations for online reputation in web services are by far the most stable, automatic and researched metrics on reputation there is. Unfortunately, the concept of organizational reputation is usually seen a bit wider and more abstract and therefore impossible to shrink into just a few questions, though some online evaluation services do give their users the possibility to rate companies with simple five star scales.

Theoretically developed reputation metrics such as Reputation Quotient RQ or RepTrak are based on a bunch of arguments and are often used in closed research settings. In our project we are using a Finnish reputation metrics RepMap, which consists of six categories and 24 different sub-attributes. A reputation measurement of Finnish public listed companies has been conducted yearly using RepMap since 2001. These meters do not have any special instruments or modifications for online use.

When in need for some quick statistics and data corporate reputation online can be measured using for example Google Alerts and search counts, Twitter mentions, blog post counts etcetera. There are several web services that are helpful in this: some are free but most are pay services or offer only limited services for free (check for example real-time social media search Socialmention.com and social media monitoring tool Trackur.com – more free services listed for example in this blog post). Also several international and Finnish media analytic companies are offering social media monitoring as part of their services.

But the problem with these services often is that they solely rely on metrics and counts instead of giving that much qualitative analysis on the content. As a result, someone inside the organization should find time to go through all the material and draw conclusions. Even though titles such as Social Media Managers are popping out, few companies can dedicate enough work time to go through all the material online, especially if the company is a big one. Is there anything that could be done to help in these tasks?

In our research project we are aiming to develop research based models that could be used in automatic qualitative analysis of online content when measuring reputations. This should not be only about searching words and their connections but also about emotions, sentiments and theoretical aspects or reputation, and the special context created by digital environments should be taken care of. With the growing importance of visuality and also continuously evolving web services on the other hand this will not an easy task to do, but something very important and interesting for sure.



1. zoernert - June 3, 2010

Nice article. The metrics issue is really challenging. However I personally think that emotions or sentiments are a one way street. Reputation analysis should focus on answers to business questions – something that could make a decision possible.

Let’s say the business decision is a budget split into different activities. Reputation measurement could help to figure out first the visibility in the market segment – and decide where money could be spend more effective.

You mention that it is not about searching words. I would say it is about weighting words and correlating them with targets.

Do you agree?

salla - June 4, 2010

Dear zoernert, thanks for your comment! You are right saying that reputation analytics and analysis should give answers to business questions. And also the other way round, the analysis should affect decisions made so that the company will adapt its activities and processes if something significant turns up through reputation analysis. So reputation analysis is not only about marketing but also about product development, customer service, etc.

Though I’m deliberately using mostly the word organization instead of company to point out that also non-profit organizations should engage in reputation management, since reputation is also about legitimation and about public image. Nevertheless thinking about targets (or audiences/publics if we give them a more active role) is always important when dealing with any stakeholders.

Jouni Heinonen - June 9, 2010

Good points Salla! I totally agree what you pointed out. Most important is that when reputation analysis is made the communications, offline and online is just one part of it. All stakeholders must be taken into analysis. Main question for managing reputations is what are the gaps between companys’ reality and stakeholder’s perceptions.

2. Measuring reputations – between metrics and academics « DiRe – Digital Reputation Project | Banedon's Cyber-Junk - June 4, 2010

[…] Comments Feed Salla: …Theoretically developed reputation metrics such as Reputation Quotient RQ or RepTrak are based on a bunch of arguments and are often used in closed research settings. … via reputationproject.wordpress.com […]

3. Noto - June 25, 2010

I’ve been here a couple times and it looks like your articles get more informative each time. Keep it up I enjoy reading them.

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