We’ve talked about the Napoleon Problem, the potential pratfalls involved in not controlling your own brand.
Taking control of your public persona, which is now slathered far and wide by social media, content marketing and mobile technology, will probably evolve beyond 'reputation management'. That's a term that suggests damage control for what’s already out there in our public resume.
Being proactive and taking a personal content marketing approach to buffing our public visage is going to be more important than ever for a person who wants to use social media for their own advancement and actualization.
So experts in this discipline will create a new set of approaches and tools for what I like to call “reputation automation.”
These'll go beyond where we're at already. A lot of firms are preaching approaches that are delivered by thorough and sophisticated platforms, but they're mostly concerned with patching holes that are already causing leaks in our online reputation.
The proactive forms of reputation enrichment will go way beyond this. They'll integrate with career plans and professional profiles and create calculated presence paths that leverage every touchpoint to build long-term impressions and public/professional images. Our spasmodic, slapdash approach to managing our visible digital persona will be a thing of the past.
The crude ways we're already seeing this done? One is setting a content calendar around the ghostwritten blogposts by a corporate CEO.
But these will go far above that, and percolate into every aspect of our digital existence.
Virtual personas for everyone?
This will become a much more generalized, all-inclusive practice, with reputational analytics baked into the equation going far beyond Klout scores. The same tools used to measure online sentiment about a major brand will trickle down to personal branding.
We may see a profusion of avatar-esque, synthetic online identities. Ones that are much more sophisticated than the simple shams some people offer up on LinkedIn. Not resume-buffing but highly-polished imitations of actuality, straight out of William Gibson.
That wouldn’t surprise me, given people’s penchant for wanting to show their best face to the world. Though other people will want to project completely authentic identities, warts and all.
A lot of it is driven by corporate HR, by how we hire and fire people. Now there’s always the question of hiring somebody based on their public profile, and how they carry off an interview. A big part of the interview process will be about trying to assess whether this candidate is as smart and articulate as their social persona.
At the same time, when would it reach a point when, just as in Mark Schaefer's "content shock," there's so much reputational branding out there that we'll find it hard to trust any of it?
Authenticity verification tools will have to keep up.
We may see an arms race of public persona generation and countermeasures that try to spy out the real person behind the facade.
Where will the truth lie? That's a good question. Who's the "real" person, and not the public personification?
Or will we all become virtualized presences -- polished to perfection, but massaged into acceptability, artificial to a fault?