The Reputation Economy
Author: Michael Fertik
Price: Rs 350
Imagine walking into a hotel for the first time and being immediately greeted by the concierge, who ushers you directly to a VIP check-in station. He offers you a drink while your room keys are being prepared. The desk clerk asks if you'd like a complimentary upgrade to a corner room. Of course, you accept, but you wonder, "Why me?"
The clerk explains that his computer noticed that on the basis of your online comments and your travel history, you have very high scores for brand loyalty and social sharing - and that his computer expects you to continue to be well-off for many years. When you booked your reservation, all of this was calculated automatically, transmitted wirelessly to the front desk, and used without your knowledge or consent.
This visualisation is from the book The Reputation Economy by Michael Fertik and David Thompson. Michael is a leading authority on digital reputation and privacy. He is the founder of reputation.com and has been credited with pioneering the field of Online Reputation Management (ORM). If someone can talk about the reputation economy, surely Michael can!
From VIP offers at hotels to getting very high insurance premiums, one's reputation is a double-edged knife that cuts both ways. As Michael emphasises, reputation is power! And always was. Except that what has changed today is a massive aggregation of information, and along with the aggregation, there is the ability to store and analyse extremely large amounts of data in real time to create a variety of interpretations. It lead to decisions!
Thanks to the many powerful digital tools now available, anyone can potentially access very large amounts of data about you - your finances, your professional as well as personal networks, your shopping habits, even your behaviour patterns, at any time. And what's more frightening is that, all of this data can be rapidly and accurately analysed, generating results that simply make your reputation your most critical currency.
What this can do, for example, is to deny you a loan, or get you a job interview that you did not even know about, or have a date standup on you! Insurers denying you coverage on the basis of your online activity, employers deciding whom to hire or promote based on computer-driven analysis, or mobile phone apps that allow instant background checks at bars! So the big data about you, and it's rapid and detailed analysis, generates your "reputation scorecard".
So does this book stop at bringing out this reality, or does it also give some takeaways beyond that? Call them cheat sheets or useful tips, the author exploits the ways and means that a reputation is figured out by the tools, and basis which, gives useful pointers to "beat the system" and ensure that your reputation comes out looking clean and powerful. For example, he suggests:
>> How to tweak your resume and your LinkedIn profile to get best job offers
>> Tips and tricks that can get you VIP treatment at hotels and banks
>> How to manage your online and offline presence
>> How to "hide" the negative information about you
Overall, the book is a must-read for the times that we live in. And not just if you're a professional or a celebrity, but for just about everyone!
(The author is Joint CEO of Social Wavelength.)