User Generated Content (UGC) is not a new phenomenon. Many of us are familiar with sites that rely on UGC. Here are some examples.
- If you are looking for a restaurant in your local area, then you can rely on Urbanspoon or Yelp for ratings and reviews from users.
- If you are interested in choosing which movie you'd like to watch with a good degree of confidence, then you might draw on the UGC rankings and reviews on IMDB or Rottentomatoes.
- Are you interested in buying an app from iTunes or Google Play? You do so or stop doing so, because the UGC rankings on that App were mixed or poor.
One of the newest frontiers of UGC is the anonymous ranking of companies. It’s not just restaurants, movies or apps that are being ranked. It’s now employers whose brands are being praised and buoyed or trashed and exposed online.
Glassdoor and other employer sites
Take Glassdoor as an example. Their website says:
“Glassdoor is a free jobs and career community that offers the world an inside look at jobs and companies. What sets us apart is our “employee generated content” – anonymous salaries, company reviews, interview questions, and more – all posted by employees, job seekers, and sometimes the companies themselves. Now with nearly 3 million salaries and reviews, you have all the information you might need to make your next career decision.”
It’s free to join Glassdoor. Based on your preferences, you can review companies that you might be interested. The site also encourages users to anonymously add to the site’s UGC content, helping to continue to refresh and keep current the content appearing on the Glassdoor site.
I encourage you to also visit Glassdoor. It might be an eye opener to what is being said about your own employer. If nothing is being said now, then it is only a matter of time. The real question is what will be said?
Regardless of whether the content is accurate or not, Glassdoor and other UGC sites play on the adage: ‘perception is reality.’ What visitors read is the perception that they form of a company’s employer brand.
As Groupon was amongst the first in the group coupon business, Glassdoor is the current leader of many other web sites, like Yelp and Vault that are now moving in to this space. Online reputation will become central to the ongoing sustainability of companies in the future.
Although many companies have policies that prohibit or restrict what current employees say about their current company online, this is hard to enforce – especially when Glassdoor encourages anonymous postings. It’s even harder to enforce when the posting is made by former employees – who might not feel positive about their prior employer.
CareerSupport365 conducted research between April and May 2013 across almost 500 people who had lost their jobs. Research took place in 3 major cities (Sydney, LA and Vancouver). We found that there was a high likelihood for past employees who felt resentful about their prior employer to visit sites like Glassdoor and rank their former employers poorly. If you are interested to receive a copy of this research white paper before it gets published, sign up here.
Glassdoor and other employer UGC sites have the potential to sway perception and opinion of anyone who reads the reviews.
This includes potential future employees as well as current and prospective clients.
What can you do?
One way to mitigate risk is for your clients to treat people they are exiting from their company with the dignity they deserve and with the employer demonstrating a duty to care. Doing so reduces ill feelings towards the company and the risk to the employer brand caused by venting disgruntled employees. A leading reputation expert, Leslie Gaines Ross, “companies should be doing the right thing…which will help provide them with a softer landing for reputational falls from grace.”
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