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Glassdoor hurt its brand via sloppy integration

Glassdoor hurt its brandOk, this is hardly the first time that Glassdoor hurt its brand. Just scan through the company’s history and you’ll find plenty of examples where the tension between user anonymity and company enmity clashed over the site’s landmark employer reviews. The company has been ordered to ‘out’ users to specific companies, but just as often it has managed to keep anonymous user info private.

But this time seems different. Why? Let’s take a look.

Back in 2021, Recruit Holdings – Glassdoor’s parent company – acquired Fishbowl, a LinkedIn-like platform. Unlike Glassdoor, Fishbowl required its users to verify their identities. In 2023, the platform was integrated with Glassdoor – and with it, along came the identity verification requirement. The fumble? Well, Glassdoor automatically signed up every single one of its users for Fishbowl. Guess what? The Glassdoor terms and conditions were changed as well, and suddenly every Glassdoor user saw that the service “may update your profile with information we obtain from third parties. We may also use personal data you provide to us via your resume(s) or our other services.”

Not very cool for a brand that was built on user anonymity, me thinks.

It seemed inevitable that the whole thing would blow up sooner or later. And it did. As per this good rundown from the folks at the AIM Group, a user discovered that her identity was no longer private on the platform, the story spread, and Glassdoor hurt its brand. Again.

So what’s the lesson for the rest of us? First: if you build your brand on a specific promise to users – such as anonymity – you need to stand behind it. That includes being aware of when your brand promise is threatened by your own actions – such as an acquisition or integration. If you’ve acquired another service or job board, make sure the integration works technically – and also make sure that it functions inside your own brand promise.

Second: if you screw up, act quickly and confidently to fix the problem. It’s not at all clear that Glassdoor has a long-term fix for this particular screw up – because they have plenty of financial incentives to know who their users are. Guess what? If they don’t resolve this, they are going to lose users!

Glassdoor hurt their brand. But you don’t have to – learn from their mistake!

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