Reputation is important to most folks, and yet many don't seem to know how to manage their reputation. The first step, of course, is to become more aware of what people are saying about you. But what does this mean, exactly? How can you become more aware?
In the past few years this thing called The Internet has really gotten a lot of traction. For some reason people are flocking to it, using it to share information quickly and across large groups. Every day, it seems, the geeks who run The Internet add some new 'social networking' tool to make it easier for them to share a buzz.
The iPhone has done much to expand the reach and power of The Internet. When the iPhone 3G came out (with GPS), geeks were raving about something called 'location aware services.' They wanted to be able to tap a button on their iPhone to find cool places around them. Places like restaurants, for example.
One of the hottest iPhone apps is this thing called 'UrbanSpoon,' which is a restaurant finder. It works sort of like a slot machine; you 'pull the lever' and it will spin its wheels and then pick a nearby restaurant at random. Of course, you can also just ask it to show you all the nearby restaurants. UrbanSpoon is a very popular iPhone application!
At first, UrbanSpoon didn't have a rating system, or any way for users to add their feedback on how well they liked the restaurant. Now, they do. In fact, iPhone users can now add pictures of the restaurant, and even take pictures of the menu. And they can use Twitter to post a 'tweet' about the restaurant (while simultaneously posting that tweet as a review on UrbanSpoon).
To use these review features you have to sign up on UrbanSpoon's webpage and create a user account. Once you do you'll be able to post reviews. But you'll also get weekly email that tells you which restaurants in your home town are hot and which are not.
Look at an excerpt from the UrbanSpoon email I got this morning (which is about New Orleans restaurants):
I wonder if the folks at Lilette and Rio Mar are aware of UrbanSpoon's review? In my humble opinion, both of those restaurants are wonderful and don't deserve a bad review. No doubt, if the owners were aware of this situation then they could do something to alter their standing in the UrbanSpoon ranking.
So this gets me back to my main point: awareness. Are you aware of what is being said about your business on the Internet? Maybe you need to increase your awareness. Maybe you need to learn more about this strange land inhabited by geeks (but increasingly by non-geeks too).
One thing that is really important to understand about the Internet (besides that it's not really a series of tubes) is that its growing popularity is not a fad. It's a trend, and a very powerful one at that.
Trends are a good thing to be aware of too.