#41 – Our 6 reputation management predictions for 2018

#41 – Our 6 reputation management predictions for 2018

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We break out the crystal ball and make some bold predictions for ORM in 2018.

Each week, Erin Jones and I take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:

  • We outline 6 stories/trends we think you’ll see on the podcast in 2018. Which do you think will come true?

If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.

Transcript (forgive us for any typos):

Andy Beal:                  Happy New Year to you. Yes, this is our first show back from the break for 2018. What I thought we would do is have a little bit of fun but also put our own reputations on the line by making some bold predictions for the coming year. Erin and I have put together a list of some reputation management predictions that we think we’ll see. And I’m going to kick it off with the idea that I think we’ll finally see some kind of alternative to credit scoring based on your reputation. What I mean by that is instead of using social security numbers and instead of relying on services like Equifax, which obviously had a major breach this year. I think we may finally see someone coming up with a system that will be based upon some kind of reputation scoring. It could be your social media engagement. It could be some specialized system that finally doesn’t offend enough of us so that we actually really accept some kind of personal scoring. But I’m thinking we’re going to see … I don’t know … I think we’re going to see something along those lines where banks and credit cards companies are finally going at least partially start bringing into play our personal reputations. What do you think Erin?

Erin Jones:                  I think that’s really interesting and I hadn’t thought of it much until you brought it up the other day but I think that with the way that our lives are blending personal and professional and so many other areas that way that this is kind of a natural progression. And we’ve seen it already when you go to get car insurance or when you go to turn on a utility, they’re checking credit scores and other aspects of your life aside from can you pay your utility bill? I definitely see this is as a possibility. I think Clout tried to do it a few years ago and fell off a little bit because their methods were maybe a little bit too rudimentary for scoring. I’m curious to see where this goes though and how they’ll do it. I know a lot of people that have really, really great real life credit scores that aren’t involved in social media at all. And then I know some people who are really involved in social media that I probably wouldn’t loan $20 to, if it were up to me. I don’t know. What do you think about that?

Andy Beal:                  You make a valid point because what about those people that are not active online. Maybe it could be something that is like an opt in alternative scoring system where you can kind of check a box to have it considered. And then you make an interesting point about services like Clout. And we’ve seen other services try to create a reputation scoring system. And I think their downfall has come from the fact that they wanted to make these scores public for everybody. And I think if it’s going to work in any capacity, it has to be like your own credit score, whereby, yeah, it’s transparent to you as the individual. You can look up your score but we certainly don’t want the scores published for everybody to look up because that’s what will make us feel uneasy and that will kill it before it even gets off the ground.

Erin Jones:                  Definitely. And I think that the way we’re blending technology and all of these different things into our lives, not just professionally anymore, it makes a lot of sense. And I’m curious to see too if our look at me aspect and our look at me perspective with social media if people would keep that private if they could or if it’s something that people would wear as a badge of pride. Something that we also discussed on the subject of credit and the lines blending and things is people hacking credit scores, people hacking internet of things devices, artificial intelligence. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of that blending as people buy refrigerators that can order groceries for them and all of these internet of things devices that are in our homes that are continually listening to us. It’s really funny because we had talked about a few of these topics over email this week and I started getting some ads in my Facebook feed and some other places for some of the things that we only discussed in my Gmail.

I feel like everything is listening all the time. And I think that there’s a huge potential for hacking going on there, kind of moving onto our next point where if all of these devices are contributing to our reputations and possibly our credit scores, which devices are going to be listening and how vulnerable are those devices?

Andy Beal:                  Wow. It’s a scary thought. Heck, apparently we can’t even keep the humble processor in our computers and tablets from being hacked with the intel and all these processes apparently having some kind of back door that needs to be patched. And it does somewhat concern me that we’re starting to rely heavily on things like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. And who knows just how our hackers are working to try to find a back door so that they can start listening to our conversations. We already … I don’t know about you but I put a little piece of tape over the camera on my laptop, just in case someone’s hacked into it. Because I’ve heard the horror stories that hey, someone can activate your camera without you even knowing. So what if they activate my Amazon Echo and start listening to me without me even knowing?

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. And I don’t know if this is true or not, I heard a joke that someone had Google Home and Amazon Echo and they asked their Google device what they thought of Alexa and Google responded and said, “I like her pretty blue light”. And then the Alexa blinked twice in response. All of these things are connected from our watches to our toasters to who know what else. I think that one thing that we’re going to see is a lot of these companies going to have to really buckle down on security if they want to protect their own brand reputations and the reputations of their client bases. Because like you said, what’s listening when? And what’s looking when?

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. And Amazon is riding high right now. And I’m sure it keeps them awake each night, the fact that they could be hacked because the line of Echo products, they’re now going to be in … what is it? Toyota and Lexus cars, everything could be potentially be hacked if someone can find the back door here. And I know that even in our house we get a little bit paranoid. Sometimes we hit the mute button on the Echo because we’re like, “Ah, she doesn’t need to hear a conversation about refinancing” or something like that. It’ll be interesting to see if that prediction comes true. I think there’s a good chance that we’ll see some kind of, whether it’s Samsung or Google or somebody that’s got some kind of technology wi-fi connected device. I’m pretty confident you got a good one there, that may see some kind of hacking.

Erin Jones:                  Definitely gives a new meaning to the walls have ears.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, true. Alright, here’s my third … my prediction that’s number three. Remember when McDonald’s botched their Black Friday tweet? And it was insert coffee here kind of thing. I kind of had a little bit of conspiracy theory that was it deliberate? Were they just trying to get some attention? And it was tongue and cheek because 99% sure that this is accidental. But they turned it into a really positive story and good a lot of good positive press. Well, I think we’re going to get what I’m going to call “fake and bake” and I think that we’re going to catch a company that’s going to pretend like they’ve either been hacked or they’ve made a funny goof and they’re going to orchestrate it to try and get publicity. But I think they’ll ultimately get called out. They’ll leave a paper trail or an employee will let slip and it will backfire and they’ll actually find themselves as reputation roadkill because they were trying to spoof us and trying to take us for a ride.

It’s kind of a little bit bold but I’m … I don’t know. I’ve got 12 months. I think somebody might make a mistake like that. What do you think?

Erin Jones:                  I definitely think that this is going to happen. We’ve seen, historically, even before the internet the “accidental” leaks to the press, things like that have been happening for a long time and I think as soon as someone figures out a way to try to manipulate the system to get a spike in traffic or get that viral traction that everybody would love to get. If they can do the oops, sorry, hehe, kind of innocent move then it hits all the marks that the public likes. It shows some vulnerability. It humanizes the brand. It’s cute and it allows to fix a mistake without really getting themselves into too much trouble if they do it right. I definitely see this one, at least happening once. I think we’re going to see it more than once.

Andy Beal:                  It’ll be interesting. I think it could definitely happen once. If it happens, hopefully … I’d like to think that other companies would learn from that but as we’ve seen over the last few years, companies don’t learn the lessons when they see somebody else make a mistake. And it all gets repeated. Yeah, it could happen a few times for sure.

Erin Jones:                  And not only as a mistake, I think if seeing how well it worked for McDonald’s, who is a company who people typically kind of scoff at as far as their coolness factor. They go, “Well, it worked for McDonald’s, maybe it could work for us.” And then I think we’re going to start seeing some increased mistrust from the audience because of that. Like, “Oh, was that really a mistake? Hahaha.”

Andy Beal:                  Well, my money’s on the airline industry to try it. Let’s see-

Erin Jones:                  Oh no.

Andy Beal:                  That’s not an official prediction. But I think they need something like this and I think they’ll probably socially just savvy enough but also dumb enough to give it a shot. Let’s see if that part of it comes true as well.

Erin Jones:                  I’m really, really hoping to see some new fresh life breathed into the airline industry. But I think that you’re probably right. Going on with that, I think that mistrust in big business and current political climates in the government is going to really … we’re going to see some more adoption of block chain technology. I think that people are going to be looking decentralized currencies and as we see more questionable payment security, which going back to everything we’ve already discussed today, people are concerned about who’s watching, who’s listening and who’s recording what they’re doing, so I think that we’re going to see a lot more acceptance of the kind of crypto, decentralized currencies. And I’m already hearing that companies like Amazon are talking about taking Bitcoin as a payment option. Car companies are doing this. I’m curious to see if an industry that is typically been considered the dark horse of payment options is going to come forward as more of a standardized thing.

Andy Beal:                  I think it’s got potential. My concern and why I’m going to disagree a little bit on this is when I hear stories of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency even block chain, it’s for the average person, when I speak to my friends and I include myself in this, it’s kind of like behind the curtain stuff. There’s a lot of mystery to it. There’s a lot of volatility to it. How is the price of Bitcoin fluctuating so wildly? I think there’s a little bit of a perception that it’s kind of … right now, the kind of currency that hackers and dark web people use, which to some degree they do, so I think if Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are going to really flourish this year and really going to become widely accepted by consumers, it’s got to have a reputation makeover. We’ve got to find something to talk about. Like you’ve articulated, it’s the positives, the decentralization, the not anonymity of everything and give it something positive to talk about other than the volatility of the price of Bitcoin and who’s using it and governments cracking down on it, that kind of thing.

Erin Jones:                  I agree. And I think though and this is a way out on a ledge prediction.

Andy Beal:                  Okay.

Erin Jones:                  I don’t think that Bitcoin is going to be the one that people adopt.

Andy Beal:                  Okay.

Erin Jones:                  I think that from the very, very limited education I have on this, that some of their developers have done some things that people are mistrustful about, which I guess messed up the mining situation or something police … don’t skewer me for getting this wrong, but I think that someone is going to come up with something that has a similar technology but gets in with someone like Amazon or somewhere and figures out how to become trustworthy within the market. The tech is there, but like you said.

Andy Beal:                  When you think about it, we almost have something similar to this that’s been around for years and years and that’s PayPal. You can use PayPal to make a purchase and nobody ever knows your credit card number or your bank account number and you deposit the funds and then you make the payment. Maybe PayPal comes up with something along those lines because it’s already somewhat consumer friendly and accepted. I guess, yeah, hell, why not. I’ll just go and put my money on PayPal to come up with something.

Erin Jones:                  I like it. They’re trustworthy. They’re … people like them and I know the generations that aren’t as tech savvy like them as well. I think that’s a good bet.

Andy Beal:                  Okay. Alright, let’s move on to the fourth prediction, make sure I’ve got that right. I don’t know where we are. Well, just the next prediction. And that is I think that one of the companies that we saw in 2017, as reputation roadkill, is going attempt to re-brand and try to improve its reputation. Because think about it, you’ve got a lot of companies that had some issues: Photo Bucket, Chipotle, United. And they see other companies re-branding. I think perhaps one of the largest ones was Google re-branding their parent company to Alphabet and they see that there’s a positive connotation with that. And I think that they’ll try to position it as, “Hey, we’re re-branding because we’re changing. We’re more consumer friendly, da da da da da”, whatever it is. But I think it won’t necessarily be a success because I think it will probably be too soon and people will think that they’re just running away from their bad reputation. But anyway, I’m going to kind of go on a limb and predict that there’s going to be one of the big companies we talked about last year that’s going to try and re-brand.

Erin Jones:                  Now, who are your top contenders for this?

Andy Beal:                  Well, I think Chipotle possibly. I even think think maybe even United Airlines because United Airlines is just at the bottom of everything right now. I even saw a poll, a study recently as to their average response time on social media was dead last. I think it was like almost a couple hours to get a reply versus five or six minutes for the top companies. I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t want to say a small brand where you would be … everybody would be listening and say, “Well, of course. They’re a small company. They got nothing to lose.” I want to make this bold and pick a large brand that would really have to go through a considerable effort to re-brand. But United, maybe Chipotle. If I wanted a safer bet, maybe Photo Bucket because Photo Bucket’s kind of a eh, kind of a meh, kind of brand anyway and they’ve had a lot of issues. Maybe they might re-brand but maybe one of those three. But definitely one that we’ve mentioned on the podcast. It needs to be one that we’ve already talked about and then had a significant enough an issue that it made it onto the podcast. That’s what I’m staking on.

Erin Jones:                  I think you’re onto something with Chipotle. They just released queso. They haven’t offered queso forever. Maybe you’re onto something with them. I was also thinking that Uber would have a really, really strong case for this as well.

Andy Beal:                  Okay, yeah. I considered Uber but I think the concern I have with Uber is they have not shown any dramatic changes to justify spending the effort and the money on re-branding because they’ve not shown that they are really trying to improve it at this point. And then also they seem to be really going hard after the whole Uber this and Uber that, like Uber eats and things like that. I don’t know. That might be a little tougher, but certainly not out of the realms of possibility.

Erin Jones:                  Yes. That’s a good point. My thinking on that was that their new CEO has worked in so many capacities where they’ve taken on multiple small brands and turned them into one large brand. I don’t know. I’m curious to see how they do this year.


Andy Beal:                  The last one, take us home.

Erin Jones:                  Alright, the last one: I’m thinking we’re going to be seeing a lot from Tesla and Amazon, bringing more affordable “big idea” tech to the consumer market. I think that they’re going to have to be very careful with the race to market with some of the big brands that they’re competing against because as we’ve seen with companies like Samsung this year, if you hurry too quickly then your products not only flop but they get you in hot water reputation wise. I think that we’re going to see these two in the forefront bringing some really, really neat ideas forward. And hopefully with what we discussed earlier with those internet of things devices, these are both huge tech companies that use a lot of technology as far as operating their products and connectivity with their support services. I think that they’re going to have to be really careful but if they do it right, I think it’s going to be a good year for both of these companies.

Andy Beal:                  Okay. Sometimes random thoughts come to my head. I have not thought this through, so if you’re listening, you’re hearing this literally seconds after I just thought this.

Erin Jones:                  These are my favorite.

Andy Beal:                  What if Amazon buys Tesla this year? Now, the reason I’m saying that is think about it, Amazon is really interested in automation. Tesla’s got self-driving cars. Amazon’s really interested in gadgets and technology. Tesla’s got these batteries that last forever. Amazon is flushed with cash. I could really see Amazon even buying Tesla and that would kill two birds with one stone. That would really give you the winner for the year.

Erin Jones:                  The other thing is you mentioned Amazon’s flushed with cash and there have been rumors that Tesla has been struggling and now they’ve got … they’re sending rockets to space and working on hyper loops, maybe they’re getting bored with automotive. You could be on to something.

Andy Beal:                  We’ll see. What we’re going to do is we’ll keep an eye on this for you and towards the end of the year, we’ll circle back and let you know how we did. Of course, if any of these actually happen, you’ll definitely hear from us before the end of the year. If none of them happen, it will be a real sheepish podcast, probably just two minutes long because we’ll have to eat humble pie. But we will keep an eye on these for you. And we’d love to hear your predictions for the year. Do you have any predictions or trends that you think we’ll see regarding branding, reputation management for 2018? If so, head on over to our Facebook page /AndyBealORM or just go to AndyBeal.com, find the latest blog posts, find that latest podcasts and leave a comment there. We’d love to hear from you. What are your predictions for branding reputation management in 2018?

Erin, as always, enjoy chatting with you. Thanks for putting on your thinking cap and coming up with some ideas for the coming year.

Erin Jones:                  Yeah. Thank you for having me and thank you for listening to my wild ideas this year.

Andy Beal:                  And thank you guys for listening to us. We always appreciate you tuning in. We’ll hope you catch us again next time. Thanks a lot and bye-bye.

ByAndy Beal

Andy Beal is The Original Online Reputation Expert™. A bestselling author of two critically-acclaimed reputation management books, a keynote speaker at dozens of events, and brand consultant experience with thousands of individuals and companies.