Pop Goes the Klout Influence Bubble

Remember the dot com bubble?

Webvan.com and Pets.com were nice ideas, but they didn’t deserve the levels of investment or credibility they received. At best, they were ahead of their time.  The dot com bust ensued.

Wherever there is hype, a bubble is right behind.

Klout is getting a lot of hype right now, and we may be facing an “online influence bubble”.  It’s a bubble driven by passionate people like me that wanted to believe our hard work and social networking success could be easily measured with an algorithm and score.

I wanted to believe in a shortcut, that technology could accelerate a rise to the top, that I could use content and engagement to bypass the old waiting game.

Sadly, it’s not there yet.

It simply can’t measure influence correctly.  Yes, those with high Klout scores are usually influential people online, but what about everyone it misses?  What about Jack Welch?

Online influence is not the main type of influence, yet.

Until it is (I believe it’s headed that way), we must remember offline influence is still how most decision makers make decisions.  This doesn’t mean that Klout is irrelevant, it just means that it’s not a mission critical issue for leaders right now.

Unless you are an internet marketer, social media consultant or blogger, Klout is not something critical to your career.  That may change, but first the bubble will pop and we’ll rebuild this online influence measurement idea without the hype.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Here is a brief overview of my personal thoughts:

  1. Due to it’s growing power, Klout needs to self regulate itself
  2. Web 3.0 is here and Klout matters
  3. Offline influence is deeper than online Klout
  4. We have probably over-hyped Klout now (this post)

I hope this is my last Klout post for a while.   Scientific measurement of human influence is a relatively new concept, and I appreciate your patience and comments while I develop my position.  I realize it seems like some flip flopping, but I can assure you I don’t have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Have a great night

Aaron@Biebert

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Analysis: Offline Influence is Deeper Than Online Klout

Spoiler Alert: If you base your entire self worth on your Klout score, you may want to read something else.  Try these instead.

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Klout says I’m less influential the past few weeks because my focus has been on some new projects and the opening talk I’m presenting at a conference tomorrow.  I haven’t been tweeting much.

Am I less influential?

It appears as though I have to choose between offline and online influence.  If I have to decide, I’d like to give this some thought tonight.

Here’s what I’m seeing:

  • Online influence can affect offline relationships.
  • It doesn’t seem to go the other way as effectively.
  • Most business leaders I know aren’t blogging or using Twitter and Facebook.
  • My influence with them has no effect on my online influence.  The worlds are very separate.

If you accept that we each have only 24 hours a day, then it is necessary to choose what we do with our time (scarcity).  Should we focus on building online Klout or offline influence?

Let’s look at one situation:

I’ll use the example of Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE and author of several top business leadership books.  He has been one of the most influential people in the business community for years.

I know with 100% certainty that I am NOT more influential or important than Jack.  I laughed when I saw this:

Is that how Jack and I “stack up” in the offline world?  Do I really have 19% more influence than Jack Welch?

Nope.

Would I rather have his offline influence?  Would I prefer to get $100,000 speaking fees and million dollar advances on my next book?

Or, would I rather have a higher Klout score?

Definitely not.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, but here are four conclusions I’m coming to:

  • I always give up some online influence when I focus on offline relationships
  • I give up an lower proportion of offline influence when I focus on online relationships
  • I make more money from offline relationships
  • Many of the most influential people I know have lower Klout scores than me

After looking at the issue, it looks like we’re wasting time online when we could be building more lucrative offline relationships with people who aren’t on Twitter or Facebook much.  Why are people like me so focused on Klout scores?  It looks like higher online influence means lower offline influence.

Do I feel conflicted because there’s a score for online influence and no “Standard for Influence” in the offline relationship world?  I still believe Klout scores matter.  When people are keeping score, I like to win.  It’s why I like business so much.

However, I have yet to book a speaking engagement or new consulting project because of my Klout score.  Even though I’m now less influential online, hopefully my “real life” influence goes up tomorrow morning.

Wish me luck!

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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5 Discoveries About the New Klout Topic Pages (Screenshots)

If you’ve never heard of Klout, click here for my thoughts on why it should matter to you.  There is plenty of debate, but I think Klout matters for leaders, teachers, and anyone who sells ideas through the internet.

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Klout allowed me to preview the new “Topic Pages” this morning and here’s what I discovered along with my predictions about it’s impact.  I’d love to get your feedback.

To help with the discussion, I grabbed some screenshots (below). While browsing, I discovered that according to Klout I have the honor of being the #2 most influential person about Justin Bieber.  

Please don’t click off because of that.  It’s not my fault.  

Others are accidently influential too. In fact, Danny Brown is so influential in sheep, he was able to leverage his Klout score to land a huge interview on “Talk is Sheep” hosted by Dino Dogan.

Maybe I can now get an interview with Dino too?

Anyway, let’s get back on track. Here’s what I discovered this morning.

Five Discoveries About Klout Topic Pages:

1. Limited Relevance for Major Topics:

The lists are not very deep.  The new topic pages will only matter to a select few people and the PR/Marketing firms looking to target those people.  Only 10 people make the top list for each topic and there are no real subtopics (i.e. “Video Blogging” as a subtopic of the huge “Blogging” category)

2. Limited Number of Available Topics

My understanding is that topics are driven by advertising objectives at Klout headquarters.  It’s their site and they can do what they want.  However, I am surprised to see that Leadership is no longer a topic that anyone is influential in.  Too bad for leadership bloggers.

3. Potentially Positive Impact on Niche Topics

If you are a niche blogger or tweeter, you may find the topic pages helpful when looking for validation.  Danny Brown may be approached to give a speech about sheep. I might be asked to write a book about Justin Bieber.  Unfortunately, if you write about ultra small niches (such as leadership?), you’re out of luck.

4. New Content Discovery

If you write or share a really great article about a specific topic (and it gets reactions), you may be discovered by anyone browsing the topic page that features it. I’m curious to see how well it works.  We’ll see if it offers another alternative to content hotspots like Stumbleupon, Digg, etc.

5. +K Votes Don’t Help You Make the “Top Influencers” List

My friend and founder of Bundlepost, Robert Caruso, made the top 10 most influential in “Klout”, however he had no +K’s for Klout until I gave him one. The little meter was nearly empty. Writing a couple great blogs about the topic was enough.

 

The Announcement

When you log in, you’ll see something like this when it goes live.  All topics will then be clickable with a link to the new topic pages feature.

 

 

 

The Best Content Tab

Not only is Klout featuring the most influential people about each topic, but they are featuring the most influential content about each topic as well.

In this case (see below), they’re featuring Danny Brown’s rant against Klout on the Klout topic page.  Nice to see they aren’t censoring yet.

It’s also interesting to see who was influenced about each piece of content. Obviously they have some bugs to work out because I doubt only one person was influenced by the featured content.  In some cases, I saw featured content that had no one in the “influenced” column.

 

 

The Top Influencers Tab

PR and marketing firms are very interested in knowing who would be a good person to endorse or share their product.  This is Klout’s answer.

Looking around at various topics, it seemed to be fairly accurate about the serious topics.

Here’s where I learned that I’m second only in “Justin Bieber influence” to Mr. Bieber himself.  It’s too bad I’m not a teen girl.  I’d be in heaven! (You can see I have some friends who think they are extremely funny)


 

Visit the 8pm Warriors Facebook page if you’d like to see the top 10 most influential people for Blogging, Marketing, Klout, Politics, Social Media, and Technology. I uploaded multiple screenshots and I’d love to spark a discussion. Are these really the right 10 for each topic?

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Web 3.0 Is Here – Why Klout Should Matter to You Now!

The retweet button to the right isn’t working on this post for some reason, so please use the “Share and Enjoy” buttons at the bottom if you’d like to spark some discussion.
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Anyone saying “your Klout score doesn’t matter” is wrong.

After my last post about the future of Klout, I saw many comments like “Ignore Klout scores!”, “Stop feeding the hype!” and “Why do you even care?”

Because I appreciate the discussion and would like to help the misguided, I spent the rest of the week preparing this post.  I hope it helps build an awareness for those folks, any ignorant “experts” out there (Klout haters), and my fellow 8pm Warriors who look to our community to stay on top of a changing world while they are busy building a future.

The world is changing.  So is the internet.

Here’s how…

Brief History of the Internet:

Web 1.0 was based on one-way communication (static websites with read only content)

Web 2.0 introduced two way communication (wikis, social media, blogs, etc.)

Web 3.0 is driven by technology that reads and understands activity on the internet and uses that data to make recommendations and perform tasks using artificial intelligence.

 

Web 3.0 is here!

Klout is an example of a Web 3.0 technology. It is being used by computers and people to decide if you are newsworthy, important enough to get a free upgrade in Vegas, or skilled enough to get a job interview. There are many ways to use it.

No matter what anyone says, it’s already happening and you can’t stop it.  Here are just some of the 3,000 groups using the Klout API in their technology.

(Image from developer.klout.com)

Last month, Klout had more than two billion (2,000,000,000) requests for information from all of their partner development organizations.  That’s an incredible amount of information!

Keep in mind this number will only increase as we rely on applications using artificial intelligence to help us save more time, make smarter decisions, and take advantage of trends as they are happening.  It’s not showing any signs of slowing down.

Looking back at this past month, I used Klout to discover others in my field, screen out spammers on twitter, and make a hiring decision.  Even though I like to pioneer new practices and use new technology, I know that I’m not alone on this one.  Ready or not, this is really happening.

Klout matters

How can it not?  I’m starting to see these scores everywhere!  I see Klout scores in email marketing, social media updates on Twitter or Facebook, and in news articles I read.

This is what I see when you tweet @Biebert.

If I only have 5 minutes every hour to respond to 50 tweets from unknown people, who do you think I respond to first?

If I’m doing it, others are too.

Like all smart leaders, I use data to make decisions.  Klout is data.

Klout will also improve artificial intelligence and automation.  Computers that know who to target will be more efficient.  There could be a time when you are followed, unfollowed, retweeted, or featured in the news based on a computer calculation.  That time may be sooner than you think.

Flaws are no excuse to ignore an emerging technology

Yes, there are flaws.  Everyone keeps saying that, hoping it will somehow change something.

However, its a silly argument because there are flaws in almost everything that we use today.  When is the last time you heard someone say that the Kelley Blue Book was irrelevant because it had bad information on a couple cars or sportscasters on TV are unnecessary because they called out the wrong name in one game.

It happens.  Especially when a technology is in a beta stage, like Klout.

These errors do make me concerned, hence the reason I wrote my last post.  However, I was dumbfounded by how many people were saying that Klout doesn’t matter or that I and other bloggers are only feeding the beast.

The beast will grow no matter what I write and it’s time to embrace it before you get left behind.  Since I’m always eager to be proven wrong, I openly declare a challenge to any expert to show me why Klout is not relevant.  Show me why I’m wrong and we can all learn something.

At the bottom, I will update this post to link to any trackback article written to oppose or support my position:

Klout matters and everyone needs to get on it if they’d like to work in any occupation that requires influence.

If you agree, share this post on Twitter, Facebook or wherever.  If you disagree, write me a rebuttal.  I’ll share it.

Let’s have a meaningful discussion on this and show true leadership into the next era. Join the conversation on Twitter, on our 8pm Warriors community Facebook page, or comment below. It’s time the world knows that data and analytics, no matter impersonal or unfair, will be disrupting the way we’re using the internet right now.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

PS. If you’re not registered for free on Klout.com yet, click here if you’re interested in registering.

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Blog Responses to Our Klout Discussion

Influence Peddling Down The Rabbit Hole by Jacob Varghese

King Klout and Why Its Power Makes Me Nervous

This post takes a deep look at Klout.com, which aims to be a credit score type metric of online influence.  If you haven’t heard of a Klout score before (or hate Klout), first read my post about why Klout scores matter.  I do believe the topic will affect all 8pm Warriors to some degree.  It’s hard to lead without influence.

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We are giving Klout a lot of power.  A lot of time.  A lot of credibility.

Klout scores matter because we believe they matter, and the momentum is only growing stronger. They have something very powerful.

Now I’m getting nervous about it.

It all started when I noticed that my topics and endorsements (+K votes) on Klout.com disappeared last night.

I was not alone.

Glitches happen in online businesses and they usually get fixed.  Since I make mistakes too, I tried to move on.

However, this morning I had a brief conversation with Megan Berry (Marketing guru from Klout) on Twitter.  She told me it was normal that several of my topics and +K endorsements had disappeared and that I could always “get more”.

I wasn’t buying it.

I got irritated and ran my mouth a bit (sorry Megan).  Why tell us this is normal when it was clearly screwed up?  A lot of my friends had no topics or any of the +K endorsements I gave them recently.

When I give someone an endorsement on a topic, I expect it to be there.  Otherwise I am wasting time.

Believe it or not, but people are taking time out of their day to show appreciation, support, and respect to others that influence them and they’re using Klout to do it.  Instead of sending an email, letter, or phone call of appreciation, some are actually using the +K feature to send a quick note of thanks.  I do that myself sometimes.

With the disappearing topics and +K endorsements last night, I think many people felt cheated and angry that their interactions were erased without warning.  I know that’s how I felt.
Here’s what I said.

Since I wrote a complimentary section about Megan Berry and Klout in my last post, I was embarrassed that this was taking place right before my eyes.  It seemed like a cover up and others were calling/texting/tweeting with me about it because they were irritated too.

I was wrong.

Megan sent me this email explaining what happened (Disclosure:  I let her know I would be using her response in my post):

You’re right, this was something different today. We were experimenting with new ways to display +K’s.  All of the +K’s are backed up and we will be restoring them soon. Sorry for the confusion, we definitely appreciate your support. Let me know if you have any other q’s I can answer.

-Megan

Sounds like case closed right?

Apparently not.  Later in the day, I noticed that my Klout scores took a rather unprecedented dive after my negative tweets in the morning.

I’m not going to say that my Klout scores took a hit because I was saying something negative about Klout.com.  That would be crazy.

But what if it was true?

 

What’s anyone going to do about it?  Absolutely nothing.

This matters if you are focused on social media or online marketing for a career. Klout scores matter when selling yourself as a consultant.  A reduced Klout score may pose a problem, just like a reduced FICO credit score poses a problem for anyone looking to get the best rates on a new mortgage.

One of my friends (Albert Qian) who does social media consulting  is labeled a “Dabbler” by Klout, even though he has 15,000 tweets.  That’s quite the dabbler!

Who wants to hire a social media “dabbler” to help them with social media?

No one.

Who has helped Albert with this?

No one.  (Even though I’ve asked)

Who can keep them from abusing their newly acquired power to punish people who tweet or write blogs criticizing Klout?

No one.

This is why I’m nervous.

This is powerful stuff and growing by the day!  In 10 or 15 years, many some positions (sales, marketing, leadership, etc.) will be hired in some way based on scores like the ones found on Klout.com.  Sure, it might be PeerIndex, Tweetgrader, or even Empire Avenue instead, but it will be something.

Some are already screening candidates this way because the next step in the evolution of the web is taking the data from billions of tweets, posts, and updates to aggregate and evaluate them to improve the ways businesses and savvy leaders make decisions.

Let’s be proactive!

Klout should self regulate themselves, work to correct errors like incorrectly calling someone a Dabbler, and avoid making manual adjustments to someone’s score.

If that doesn’t work, then regulations may need to be put in place as more people use Klout scores to make decisions.  It’s no different than credit scores, except controlling someone’s reputation is probably more significant.

Maybe we need to start using an average of scores, similar to how banks use three credit bureaus.  Maybe we need three influence bureaus?

I don’t have all the answers but I sure would love your thoughts on this matter.

Congrats.  You made it to the end.

Have a great night!

Aaron@Biebert

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5 Ways Leaders and Companies Can Use Transparency to Win

After my Transparency Favors the Strong post, I got several requests to share ways that companies and leaders could win the race to transparency.

Smart leaders realize that hiding relevant information is just not a good idea anymore.

Customers, employees, shareholders, board members, and other stakeholders in your organization are okay with mistakes. They’re not okay with dishonesty or shady practices.

We live in a world dominated by social media, which allows people to share, discuss, and learn about you, your company, it’s products, and the way you do business.

Even if you wanted to, you can’t hide the truth without actually kidnapping, killing people or turning off the internet. Regardless, if you have to hide it, you probably should change business models or jobs.

Here are five ways your company can win the race to transparency:

1) Blog about what you do

Be honest.  Be open.  Be vulnerable.  Share your feelings.  Companies should act like people so that people can relate to them.  No one relates to perfection.

Here are two examples of transparency in action:

Michael D. Harris Jr. at Ardynn PR is writing 365 posts this year while sharing the wins, losses, and ideas coming out of his growing real estate PR firm.  He’s even gone so far as to discuss his own foreclosure crisis.  Here’s one example of his blog posts.

Mike Cox does a daily video blog every business day where he blows the lid off the secretive mortgage industry and it’s pricing.  Since he leads a group of mortgage loan officers, you’d think giving away pricing info would hurt him, right?  Wrong.  He’s building trust and an avid subscriber base that is hungry for honesty and transparency. Check out Rates in Motion.

2) Be transparent on your “About Us” page

Take advantage of the times when people want to learn more about your company. Write something personal, warm, and right to the point of why you’re in business.

People don’t care about stats until they understand your spirit, goals, and direction.

Robert Jones is writing a series of blog posts about successful “About Us” pages and I highly recommend you read some of his stuff.  It’s amazing.  Here’s the first one in the series, and it features 8pmWarrior.com.

Here’s another example of a fairly transparent “About Us” page.

3) Monitor social media platforms

Monitoring what people say about you should be automated.

The first thing you should do is set up Google Alerts for your brand, company name, and yourself.  Then, when you notice someone is talking about you, move to step 4 below.

Besides Google Alerts, here are some other monitoring tools I use:

4) Interact on social media platforms

Once you know where you’re being talked about, it’s time to engage.

I highly recommend you follow the lead of the Klout.com team and take a candid approach to responding.  Don’t ignore the obvious.  Answer questions and keep it pleasant.  People will say a lot of dumb things, but it’s your job to engage them in a way that makes friends out of skeptics.

Here’s a case where Joe Fernandez (Klout.com CEO) and Megan Berry (Marketing) are monitored and engaged in an intelligent way on a fairly negative blog post.  Check it this blog post.

Other examples of transparent interaction on social media:

One note on Engagement (more to come in a future post)…don’t automatically reply to anyone for any reason unless you are transparent about the fact that it is automated.  It will kill your ability to truly connect.

5) Admit mistakes and offer to fix them first

This is one of the reasons that transparency favors the strong.

The better you are at doing your job, the less expensive transparency is.  This is why some companies face an almost impossible task.  They can’t sell their flawed services in a transparent way, so they get less sales to improve their flawed services.

It’s a death spiral.

I’ll never forget when Best Buy gave me a $100 gift card when Blu Ray officially beat out HD-DVD and my new player from Best Buy was rendered obsolete.  They didn’t have to do anything.  However, they invested some money and made a friend for life.  It’s always worth it to deal with negative situations proactively.

On the other hand, you probably remember when Apple’s iPhone 4 came out with reception issues because our hands were interfering with the antenna (the death grip problem).  I couldn’t believe that they denied the issue when almost everyone I know said there were issues.  Finally, after a media circus, Apple finally gave us iPhone cases to fix the issue they denied having.  This was my first negative experience with Apple and one that killed the myth that they were somehow superhuman.

Summary

Transparency is the new Quality.  Everyone expects it.  If your industry or company is not usually transparent, you may want to be like Mike Cox or consider trying a different line of work.  If you plan on truly leading people, you must be human.  You must be transparent.

If you believe in yourself, this shouldn’t be a problem.  Transparency favors the strong.

Have a transparent night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Social Media is More Than Links, Klout, or Followers

In the social media frenzy of getting more friends, followers, Klout, etc. I think some have forgotten about people. I know I do sometimes.

However, aren’t people the whole point of the social web?

In March, I wrote about the 3 Behaviors that are Social Selfish and today I want to add #4:  Wasting time unhelping people who ask for help.

Today, someone with 260,000 followers retweeted my post about the Menards Website Hacking fiasco I discovered.  Very kind of Dave.  One of my other friends Jeremy Holmes thought it was too bad that he didn’t offer the mention with the retweet, so I messaged Dave to ask about it. After all, he had already found it interesting enough to retweet once and it couldn’t hurt to ask if he’d help out.

Here’s what I sent:

“Just a humble request. Can you retweet the Menards blog post with my tweet meme link http://bit.ly/mLYVmJ and @Biebert mention? Thanks!”

This is what I got:

“Apologies, can’t do it. Have to be consistent. We get a TON of special requests, can’t show favoritism. Sorry.”

I didn’t get how someone could call giving credit on a retweet a “special request.” I thought that was just the courteous thing to do.

The warrior side of me came out and I got irritated. Some good friends jumped in to defend the concept of giving credit and what proceeded was an hour long public debate as he lectured me on the standards of giving credit and everyone ganged up on the poor guy. Now we’re both writing blogs about our experience and what we learned.

Here’s my general take on the topic. For me, a simple “No” would have been fine.  I understand how valuable time is, especially to someone who has that many followers. I can only imagine how much contact he has to deal with.  However, what I didn’t understand was saying no to someone in order to save time and then wasting the extra time lecturing them. It’s so much easier just to help people, at least in my smaller world.

It only makes sense.

Here’s why:

  • People still matter. Even though he has a Klout score of 84 and 260,000 followers, people still matter.  Great things happen when you help people.
  • Time matters. If you don’t have time to help someone, don’t lecture them.  It is disengenuous.  In the time it takes to argue, you could seriously make someone’s day.
  • Content matters. If you like the content enough to share it, make sure you help people find the author in a helpful way.  A simple @mention takes 3 seconds.

At the end of the day, social media is still about people.  Sometimes we forget that. I know I do.

Some of the best relationships I have through social media are with regular people that have fewer than 5,000 connections.  I have laughed with them, learned from them, and even cried with them.  Yet I’ve never met them.

People are the magic of social media!

Never forget that.

Have a generous night,


Aaron@Biebert

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