The rise of digital reputation as a key asset for business
In the old economy, reputation was considered an important but somewhat underestimated intangible asset. Commonly, it was a matter of public relations and the mantra was that “any publicity is good publicity”. In the digital economy, the significance of reputation is expanded in scope. The diffusion of feedback, ranking, and rating systems, powered by digital media, caught the attention of marketing and business executives, bearing the promise of an objective, user-driven, tangible form of assessment of the social value of products, brands, and services. Concomitantly with the rise of social network sites and the proliferation of metrics and analytics of all kinds, the era of the “reputation economy” has dawned. The story of the Shed at Dulwich (Box 1) shows the permeability of feedback, rankings, and rating systems, and the possibility of living in a reputational “bubble”. Yet, it also highlights how powerful reputation and the platforms that provide this information can be, and shows that word-of-mouth is now inextricably entangled with digital forms of social interaction. The fact that the story was a prank also shows that the reputation economy is less of a promised land than what businesses and consumers had hoped for. Let´s take a closer look at the role reputation plays in the digital economy and how businesses can become adequately equipped to survive the digital reputation jungle.