Social relevance is the pillar of social media that we refer to that encompasses the online reputation of an organisation or individual. Where there is discussion, there will be opinion – and that opinion is beginning to have a dramatic influence on what people think about you, or the brand you care for. I’d like to tackle both these scenarios.

Social media means many different things to many different people; people will take the opportunity to either point out good things that have happened in their lives, in the lives of their friends, or wise decisions that they have made…while others embrace it as an opportunity to have fun, which can range from pure escapism or the celebration of everyday mediocrity. The common denominator that keeps it all together, is that the only reward for doing this is that what they say or publish is noticed. We hope that our status updates, photographs, links and likes will be “read”. Nobody, however cool they might be, goes to the effort of publishing anything without the expectation of it being viewed.

Whatever we portray, we know it will be viewed, and we know it will influence how we will be perceived. In the same way that people create and live up to (or not) an image of themselves, there is an easy to understand metaphor for brands.

Our online reputation creates a set of credentials. Social media technology represents this in a couple of ways, and various companies have devised toolsets for managing credentials, typically called “online reputation management”. Yes organisations care about what people think about them, but it is the insight that these tools can generate that can actually help companies work to improve their brand and reputation. Managing company relevance is a vital component of social media engagement.

Unfortunately, we all have to do it; or at least have to think about it. Even the coolest of us may one day be subject to an “employment suitability screening”; which means how you manage your personal “social” brand is going to come under more scrutiny. It raises a lot of arguments about what is fair consideration; but ultimately, what we decide as users to make public; we cannot hope will be considered private by those who hire and fire us.

Online rating systems are now common place, with systems in play that rate everything from small business, eating experiences and movies through to company employment experiences. You can get ratings for practically everything…which is very scary and if you’re like me, makes me worry about being exposed for what I’m not good at. These days, a judging panel on wheels follows your every move – whether you’re an Olympic gymnast or a beer enthusiast.

For some web sites of interest, look at (online rating system for how good you are at Twitter), Wikipedia has recently launched a ‘rate this page’ function, while Glass Door is a new concept in rating companies.

You could also take in the 1979 movie “10” staring Dudley Moore and Bo Derek. If you choose to, but note – admitting to it might affect your online reputation.

Comments? Thoughts?