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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. ┬áThese 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.