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:
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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 rantagainst 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.
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?
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.
Anyone saying “your Klout score doesn’t matter” is wrong.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
My friend Lisa Sunbury just asked for my take on the “protected tweets” feature on Twitter.
Since Twitter only allows 140 characters, I thought I would post my response here on the 8pm Warrior blog and Facebook discussion group. I hope my answer helps anyone who is new to Twitter and wondering if they should select the “Protect my tweets” option on the account setup screen.
I have a confession to make. Back at the end of 2008 when I decided to use Twitter for @Biebert and @ClearMedical, I selected the “Protect my tweets” option during setup.
It was a mistake. Here’s why:
1) I missed out on new connections
If you protect your tweets, some people will choose not to follow you. Pure and simple.
2) My message didn’t get out.
I was CEO and thought my updates would somehow help our competition discover the “secret recipe” that was taking their market share.
This was idiotic and cocky.
Not only did it keep our competitors from learning about our operations, early adoption of social media, and what made us special, but it kept out anyone who needed our consulting solutions, agency support, or just wanted to learn about us.
Yes, some of them did choose to follow us and get our updates, but they couldn’t retweet the updates they liked about our story. Consequently, fewer people got involved with the beginning of the Clear Medical Network project and some potential new friends didn’t get invited to our annual healthcare industry cruise and “Nurses Night Out” events.
Protecting your tweets means protecting them from people you need, and there are far more of them than competitors.
3) We weren’t searchable.
Twitter, Google, and Bing can’t search protected Twitter accounts, which means that no matter how great we thought our advice was, it wasn’t going to get out to anyone who didn’t already know about us. This meant we were hard to find, #hastags were useless, and we didn’t have a Klout score.
4) We irritated our friends
No one likes waiting, especially for approval. We live in an “on demand” world and making people wait to follow you and engage with you is not only irritating, but it can hurt sales. Many people use social media to learn more about you and if you make them wait, you lose potential relationships. They may go somewhere else.
Also, since so few people have their accounts protected, it makes others wonder why this person/company/brand thinks they are “God’s gift to the world.”
5) You can’t engage with new people
If you have a protected account, you can’t successfully @mention someone who isn’t following you. Unfortunately, that may be the single most important thing about twitter.
To sum it up, don’t protect your account if you want to engage with new people. If you don’t want to engage with new people, you shouldn’t be on Twitter in the first place.