When Reputation Does Not Matter

reputation management
| Posted on | Online Reputation Management

Since we’re just about to approach the height of the reputation management craze I figure now is an excellent time to talk about what happens when it doesn’t matter again. Or will it?

Recently, I blogged about my stay at The Union Bluff hotel in York Beach, Maine which was somewhat sub par. This particular stay made me think, though. What happens when reputation doesn’t matter again? I know it sounds absurd and as some one who teaches and provides reputation management services, it may not be all that self serving to pose this idea.

The point I am making is this: The internet is, in a sense, written in ink. Online reputation management really isn’t like the “word of mouth” we so often liken it to. Word of mouth isn’t “written in ink” it’s more like the disappearing ink we find in novelty stores. Sure if you’re great for a time people will talk about it… maybe even create a buzz. But with time, that memory fades — the ink disappears.

Sure Google shakes things up now and then and their recent “booting of 3rd party review sites” has caused a stir and once again we need to reshuffle our review strategy, but eventually it may begin to lose it’s importance — or at least it beg’s the question: How many reviews does it take to make you good or bad in the eyes of the consumer?

In the beginning, most dealer’s had very few consumer reviews so when one of us got a few hundred, it really stood out! I know it’s true there are still many of you out there who haven’t bought in to online reputation. But soon, it won’t matter wether or not you’ve bought in consumers are writing reviews for everything now and google will continue to make it easier for them to do so.

Cut to the chase… The point I’m making, is that at some point I don’t believe there will be much value to the consumer in online reputation or in reading online reviews. The simple reason for this is that most businesses are mostly good. What happens when everyone has a few thousand reviews? Everyone will average toward a pretty good experience based on the scoring system’s used by review sites. The only thing that will stand out is anyone doing a really awful job.

Think about it – reputation guru’s tell you a few bad reviews help you look legitimate because no one believes you can be perfect all the time.

So then we’re left with little value from consumer reviews. My Union Bluff scenario is a perfect example of this. They have mostly good reviews and I yet I had a poor experience. Is my experience indicative of their overall service? Or the other peoples good experiences? Does the fact that they were not interested in following up with my negative experience or attempting to reach out or apologize in any way mean that I or you or anyone shouldn’t do business with them? Or are they just really like everyone else? Really good most of the time… until they’re not.

Sp perhaps, when everyone has thousands of reviews, no one will be great again.

3 thoughts on “When Reputation Does Not Matter

  1. Tim online reputation as it relates to Google reviews and to Dealerrater have always been overstated. The fact is that your online reputation does matter it matters a great deal just not in the way you are thinking of it.

    Your blog about the hotel stay mattered to a few people that follow it, are close to it and you for the mass others it was just another bad review from someone I don’t know and could care less about.

    Reviews matter when you know the reviewer and it comes in a genuine fashion (not in a blog or a star rating) its been around, oh since forever … Word Of Mouth. Not the kinda word of mouth where one guy tweets “YOU SUCK” and it travels the world that’s not true word of mouth.

    True word of mouth isn’t pushed its pulled, its when you ask “What do you think of XYZ company?” from your Facebook group or from your twitter following and you get back a good number of positive remarks OR negative remarks that are genuine and come from people you are familiar with.

    That’s when reputation matters all this other is pretty much just white noise.

    Larry Bruce @pcmguy

  2. Tim,
    Excellent point. Reviews and ratings can help a business, but if a consumer is comparing car dealers or other business and all of them are rated 4.8 or 4.9, there’s no differentiation. There may be no value in a rating that’s point-1 higher than another business. There’s no value in having 1,000 reviews when your competition has 500 reviews. That said, a business should have ratings to be considered: a business with ratings will be favored over a business without ratings, and I suspect a business with recent ratings has an advantage over a competitor with ratings that are a year or two old. Reviews will become a pass-fail system: show up and you pass, but an A gets you more than an A-minus.

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