Saturday, December 24, 2011

A social media - Twas the night before Christmas…

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

The only thing stirring was the click of a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that social media St. Nick soon would be there;

The children and adults were nestled in beds,

While visions of Facebook danced in their heads;

Would mentions of iPad on Twitter be met

With stockings stuffed with tablets once hard to get?

Would discussions of smartphones for using Linkedin,

Bring gifts of devices with keyboards, but thin?

Would plus-oneing that post about the spirit of Christmas

Help earn us the gifts we circled on Google+?

Would favoriting a YouTube video about Christmas afar

Help to deliver that coveted DVR?

No, it seems good old Santa may be unaware

Of our postings to networks both here and there

What his spirit seems to say about material needs:

Christmas is not about you, but about your real deeds

So as you sit with loved ones perhaps by a fire

Consider again your real social media desire

Is it followers, friends, business leads or even money?

Or is it helping others, giving often … even being funny?

You see giving is easy on social networks – they’re free

You really have no excuse not to give … times three

Next time you sit down to network or share

Tweet, share, like – but make sure that you care

Because the true Christmas miracle is giving not getting

Be sure to give more than you get in a social setting

Spreading goodwill in deed both big and small

Will help spread the spirit of social Christmas to all

Merry Christmas and goodwill to all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Coal For These 11 Social Media Fails In 2011

I recently guest-posted for Butler/Till's Media Mosaic blog on who in social media should be getting lumps of coal for this holiday season...

I’m not Santa, although I have played him once or twice for various events. But it’s that time of year and while many social media platforms and events from the past year rightly deserve gifts and thanks there are those who absolutely deserve coal.

Here are my 11 social media tools, networks and “celebrities” who each get a lump of coal for their troubles in 2011.

To read the full post, go to Coal For These Social Media Fails In 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

10 Rules for the Workplace (That Just Might Help in Social Media and the Rest of Life)

This week marks 34 years since I started my first full-time job (and more than 40 years since I started part-time work).

While thinking about that time I realized that I’ve developed some internal “rules” about working that might equally apply to my time on social media and, in fact, life in general.

I don’t know that working in 11 jobs across four countries and five time zones gives me any special qualifications for this, but I feel compelled to share it.

Therefore, here are my 10 Rules for the Workplace (That Just Might Help in Social Media and the Rest of Life) – I hope one or more prove useful to you:

1. Having fun is essential: There are always deadlines and pressures to get things done so if you’re not having at least little fun why are you doing it? If you can find ways to inject extra fun into your work you and those around you will benefit.

2. As much as is possible, get along with everyone: Work (and life) places us in situations where we must be with people we don’t agree with or would avoid at any other time, but be there we must. And because you never know when that person you don’t see eye-to-eye with may need to “have your back” a best practice is to find a way to get along with them.

3. Say what you mean and mean what you say: Double dealing and insincerity are toxic fumes. If you play it straight – you win; it’s that simple. Rarely this truthfulness will cost you something, but over time those small costs will be outweighed by bigger rewards.

4. Be helpful and giving: No matter where you are on the workplace ladder or the journey of life there are always those above and below you – and the more you can help others get what they need and want the more your stock will rise too.

5. Always do more than is expected: You may not be the smartest person in the room or on the network, but you can always be the hardest working – and many times effort is more valuable than smarts.

6. Be able to take criticism: Getting feedback from others is always a good thing and you can always dismiss any that isn’t relevant. But over time I’ve learned that inside even the most off-the-wall criticisms there usually lurks a truth.

7. Separate the work from the person: When critiquing the efforts of others be able to separate what they do from who they are. Just as someone’s work does not define them as a person neither does what someone posts to a social network fully define them.

8. Avoid small-minded people: The gossips, the mean-spirited, the thin-skinned and the trivialists are out there; don’t let them infect you and your efforts.

9. Be willing (and able) to fire someone: Sometimes the best thing for you and what you do is to fire someone else. It’s never easy, but over time I’ve seen that if it is done for honest (and not petty) reasons it leads to a greater good for everyone.

10. Live more; work less: It will always be true, no matter how much you work, when you reflect on your past it is unlikely that your work will define your life. Therefore find ways to live more fully in the real world – experiences there are the ones that make the warmest memories.

I hope this helps someone entering the workplace or someone reassessing their work lives. Equally I hope these guidelines might also help people figuring out their place in social media. What do you think? Are there things I’m forgetting?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Does Klout have a PR crisis?

With all the buzz in the past week on social media about the change in the Klout Score algorithm you might be wondering if Klout has a public relations crisis on its hands.

Seemingly across the social-sphere people who had come to place value on their Klout Score were upset that the scores had dropped suddenly - in some cases significantly. (For some background see
Klout Changes ... Scores Drop and Complaints Rise)

Curious about whether Klout was facing a PR crisis I turned to my friend Jim Reynolds, the Strategic Accounts Manager, Social Media Solutions at
Alterian - a company that among other things offers SM2 , a social media sentiment monitoring tool.

He ran the reports and, in a nutshell, Klout has upset a relatively small, although possibly influential, cadre of its users.

The details

Jim pulled reports for the time period Oct. 20 through Nov. 1 that focused on the term "Klout Score" to examine such things as total searches, sentiment and where the conversations were taking place.

First he looked at total searches. There was a big spike in searched on Oct. 26 and 27 (the day the change was implemented and the day after that). But by Oct. 28 it was down to half of the peak and by Oct. 29 searches were back to normal levels.

Then Jim examined sentiment. He and I were surprised to see that in the timeframe of this report almost 79 percent of the mentions were neutral, almost 11 percent were very negative and almost 10 percent were very positive.

Next up was a look at the number of searches by day. During the spike in search Oct. 26 and 27 the numbers of neutral, very negative and very positive results mirror the above sentiment rankings and the total number of searches (around 7,000 per day at the peak) are what Jim described as "a lot for Klout, but not a lot for a brand." He cited Home Depot, which typically gets more than 8,000 every day.

Then he looked at which countries might be seeing the most interest in the topic and hands down it was in the United States with more than 30,000 results. By contrast, the next highest total was that of Canada where there were 1,213 results.


I asked Jim for his expert opinion as to what all of this means for Klout.

"It’s a lot of people in social media talking about something in social media," he said, going on to say this this is unlikely to be a PR crisis for Klout.

In terms of sentiment Klout has a relatively small percentage of a relatively small group who were "extremely negative."

The hard thing to judge, according to Jim, is how much influence or reach the individuals making "extremely negative" comments might be. Given their relative small numbers and their relatively short-lived interest Jim thinks Klout will be OK.

So, what do you think? Was all the discussion around the change to the Klout Score just a "tempest in a teacup" or will there be public relations consequences for Klout in the future?

Possibly related posts
Klout changes ... scores drop and complaints rise
Klout questions for CEO Joe Fernandez
Klout responds to questions and critics

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Klout responds to questions and critics

Questions and criticisms have been swirling around the changes to the Klout Score this past week. I decided to post some questions to Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout. He was traveling so Megan Berry, Marketing Manager at Klout agreed to step in and answer on behalf of Klout.

Her response is below. It arrived Friday (24 hours after she offered to answer the questions) by email and as a comment – cited here - on a previous blog:

Hey Mike,

As I mentioned, I was getting you the responses to these questions. I was in the process of drafting them when I saw this post so I sent them to you in email just now and I'll also post here:

1. Some of the criticisms of the new Klout are that it is not transparent enough. In other words you made changes that altered scores in some case by 20 points, but have not given explanations about why those changes were so dramatic. What do you say to this criticism?
Hey Mike, we announced the upcoming changes the week before with Joe's post on
why we believe the change was needed and we also had a post on the day of announcement explaining the changes. As you know as someone in the field, social media is constantly evolving and as a measure of your influence there, we need to evolve as well.

2. A quick, early analysis seems to show that those who have linked all of the accounts Klout currently allows users to connect have kept their scores relatively the same or now have higher scores. This would seem to penalize, for example, non-iPhone owners who cannot have an Instagram account of those who blog on something other than Tumblr or Wordpress. Your response?
Hey Mike, we measure influence equally independent of network. Lady Gaga, for instance (, is only measured based on Twitter and has one of our highest Scores. You do not need to connect multiple networks to have influence but if you do influence on a network, it will help you to connect it (we can then give you credit for that influence).

3. One of the themes in the criticisms is that there could have been an “old Klout” and a “new Klout” or “Klout+” as a way to allow users to decide how serious they wanted to be about their score. Your reaction?
Hey Mike, do you mean letting people choose which scoring system they want to use? Technologically it takes a lot of infrastructure to process 3 Billion pieces of content and connections daily so apart from any other concerns having 2 pipelines isn't feasible in the long term. We are always looking to move forward and improve, we think once people look at these scores in context and get a chance to see the improvements they will grow to like them.

4. Another prevalent criticism: It seems the new Klout Score penalizes people who are genuinely involved with others on social media regardless of their influence scores versus those who are selective and only “talk” to high influencers. This seems to encourage a new form of social media class snobbery. What are your thoughts?
You are never penalized for talking to people with lower scores. We believe * everyone * has Klout and anytime someone takes action based on your content that adds to your influence. Yes, if they have a higher score, that adds to your influence *more * but either way we give you credit for that and you are never penalized.

5. Twitter and Google+ have been full of people saying they have or will rescind permissions for Klout in protest, the *OccupyKlout and *KloutPout hashtags have cropped up. Can Klout survive and thrive this reaction to what you consider a big improvement?
We definitely are working to listen to feedback and are always improving. We believe once people get a chance to interact with our new scoring system they will grow to understand its improvements.

So, how did Megan do? Did she answer the questions you have?

Related posts:
Klout questions for CEO Joe Fernandez
Klout changes ... scores drop and complaints rise

Friday, October 28, 2011

Klout questions for CEO Joe Fernandez

Joe Fernandez,

Dear Joe,

So the changes at Klout Wednesday, I’m sure, have made for some exciting if not exhausting days at Klout. And, as I’m sure you are aware they have caused some people to get upset. I have followed Klout with interest since the beginning and feel compelled to chronicle these changes and the reaction to them.

I blogged Wednesday about the
changes to Klout and how hard it might be for some to accept them. Now it occurs to me that a lot of criticism of the changes might be "cut off at the pass," as they say, if you were to publicly answer a few questions.

Before beginning my college teaching career I was in journalism for 26 years and so I’d like to offer you the chance to answer these few questions and then I will undertake to publish them with the answers in a Q&A format today. ….

The questions are below. Thank you for your time.

1. Some of the criticisms of the new Klout are that it is not transparent enough. In other words you made changes that altered scores in some case by 20 points, but have not given explanations about why those changes were so dramatic. What do you say to this criticism?

2. A quick, early analysis seems to show that those who have linked all of the accounts Klout currently allows users to connect have kept their scores relatively the same or now have higher scores. This would seem to penalize, for example, non-iPhone owners who cannot have an Instagram account of those who blog on something other than Tumblr or Wordpress. Your response?

3. One of the themes in the criticisms is that there could have been an "old Klout" and a "new Klout" or “Klout+” as a way to allow users to decide how serious they wanted to be about their score. Your reaction?

4. Another prevalent criticism: It seems the new Klout Score penalizes people who are genuinely involved with others on social media regardless of their influence scores versus those who are selective and only “talk” to high influencers. This seems to encourage a new form of social media class snobbery. What are your thoughts?

5. Twitter and Google+ have been full of people saying they have or will rescind permissions for Klout in protest, the #OccupyKlout and #KloutPout hashtags have cropped up. Can Klout survive and thrive this reaction to what you consider a big improvement?

NOTE: I did get a response from Megan Berry, Marketing Manager at Klout saying Joe Fernandez is travekling and could she answer my questions. I said "yes, of course." Since then? Crickets.

Now I’m sure everyone at Klout is extremely busy right now, but shouldn’t someone be answering these questions? Somewhere public?

So, what do you think? Should Joe, or someone else from Klout respond to these questions and others the Klout community has?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Klout changes ... scores drop and complaints rise

Klout, the online social media influence rating service, made some big changes today that are sure to have people talking.

The changes, earlier described by Klout CEO Joe Fernandez as a "the biggest improvement to the Klout Score in our history" are likely to tweak many who use the service.

"This project represents the biggest step forward in accuracy, transparency and our technology in Klout’s history," says Ash Rust, Director of Ranking at Klout on
the official Klout blog.

The changes include a more-detailed look on the Profile and Dashboard pages.

What’s the biggest change for most people? Officially, the Klout line is that scores will now be easier to understand. Unofficially many have seen their scores fall – in some cases significantly. Although Rust says this won’t be the case:

"A majority of users will see their Scores stay the same or go up but some users will see a drop," he says on the Klout blog.

But a quick check of the comments at the bottom of that blog post and comments on the
Mashable story about the same subject indicate many scores dropped and some dropped significantly.

My favorite comment? From someone called Dolpher:

"I think Klout just pulled a Netflix... Most people have experienced big drops. Any bit of insight into human psychology would state that in general people do not like to see their 'worth' drop sign..."

Another … this from Peter Alderliesten:

"Some scores seem not to have been influenced at all, others seem to be totally 'devastated'. To keep faith/trust in this scoring algorithm, I think Klout should explain the scoring system more fully. Transparancy maybe? "

As with all change it won’t be easy for users to accept. The big question is this: Will the changes stick? In other words will people stay with a service that just knocked them down a few – or in some cases many – pegs?

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tone deaf in social media?

Is tone deafness in social media a growing (or ongoing) problem? I would argue "yes" based on some examples I’ve seen recently.

The online
Merriam Webster dictionary defines tone deaf as a noun meaning "relatively insensitive to differences in musical pitch."

This sounds (pun intended) to me just like a description of some folks who operate in social media apparently oblivious to the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) messages they are sending.

Three examples I’ve seen in the past week:

• A teacher comments on a student’s video that has been shared on their program-related Facebook page saying, among other things that the video is “dumb.” Forget that the teacher seems to have missed the point that the video was meant to be a light-hearted spoof and just think about how the student must now feel after this public comment.
Bottomline: The teacher, for all to see, seems to be publicly putting down a student.

• An editor of a community newspaper asks via Twitter if the newspaper should publish graphic photos of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi after he has been killed. In the tweet there is a link to those graphic photos. Forget that this is being asked at least 18 hours before anyone could see these images in print and that anyone who wants to (or doesn’t want to) see them can’t avoid them on online news websites and such sites as Google News.
Bottomline: The editor seems unaware that publishing a link to graphic images on Twitter is, in fact, a form of publishing.

• At a conference a professor talks about how growing social influence is important for individuals and businesses and admits that he demands students friend him on Facebook before they graduate otherwise he may be unwilling to help them later. Forget that anyone at the conference can look at his presences on Facebook and Twitter, for example, and see that he has relatively small circles of followers and friends.
Bottomline: The professor seems unaware that any claims about influence in social media are easily checked.

Of course it's easy to point up the deficiencies in others when I know I have my own – including not always responding in a timely manner and not always following back or accepting connection requests from everyone and anyone.

But am I wrong about this? Is social media really that hard to figure out? Folks, whatever you say on a social network can and will be seen by others … be smart.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Who in social media will step up and do this good thing?

Today I heard about a small book that could change the world and my first thought was how could social media play a role in getting people to read it?

The book, Time for Outrage: Indignez-vous! is by Stephane Hessel (pictured), a former World War II French resistance fighter and has sold nearly 2 million copies in France and has been translated into more than 30 languages. Now it is for sale in the United States.

It was while listening to a report about the book on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition that I got the idea: I would love to buy 10 copies of this book and get them into the hands of people under 30.

But how could I do this? Why social media of course.

So here is the challenge: I am challenging all of you in social media with large numbers of followers to find one among you who will set up a web site where people like me can buy copies of the book (it lists for $8 hardback on and then ensure through a third party (perhaps Amazon) that those books get into the hands of people under 30.

Come on Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, Ellen DeGeneres, Shaquille O’Neal … you or someone like you has the resources to create such a site and make this happen (and I’d be glad to help!).

Why is this important? This is what the author, Hessel, says:

"If you want to be a real human being — a real woman, a real man — you cannot tolerate things which put you to indignation, to outrage," he says. "You must stand up. I always say to people, 'Look around; look at what makes you unhappy, what makes you furious and then engage yourself in some action.' "

So, can social media make this happen? Please help by spreading the word. I will buy the first 10 copies.

Can we make this work?

Image of Stephane Hessel from Wave magazine

Monday, August 29, 2011

The 7 Deadly Sins on Twitter

If you’re new to Twitter or been on it for a while and wonder what will kill any social media strategy you may have involving the 140-character service think about this: It may be that you’re committing one of the seven deadly sins of Twitter!

Anger: How often do you see people saying something out of anger on Twitter and you just know they will regret it? If you are feeling angry go for a walk or find a punching bag and leave Twitter out of it.

Greed: This shows up when tweeps are greedy with others’ time (tweeting too much in too short a time) or following too many people in hopes that some will follow back and build their follower numbers. The old saying that "the more you want something, the more it eludes you" is true on Twitter too!

Laziness: People who auto-tweet and don’t engage (respond to questions and/or thank others’ kindness on Twitter) are usually easy to spot … and as a result they do not build communities of value.

Pride: Words on a screen can so easily be misinterpreted without the visual or audio cues we get from other forms of communication. Tweeps who fly off the handle at a perceived slight are victims of pride and likely revealing a lot more about themselves than they realize. If you always assume good intent until undeniable evidence to the contrary you will do fine on Twitter.

Desire: This manifests itself in Twitter users who are too anxious to achieve their goals on the network and spend a lot of time pursuing them oblivious to what is happening around them on Twitter. This narcissism is rarely rewarded.

Envy: This is one of the ugliest sins and shows up when a Tweep decides to use Twitter to tear down another Tweep (usually someone with more standing on the network). If you’re turning green with envy over how well others are doing on Twitter learn from them – don’t attack them.

Voracity: The "voracious" Tweep is that person who retweets (RTs) and comments indiscriminately – usually dozens of times in a short time period. For 10-30 minutes at a time Twitter is, in their minds, all about them.

So, does this list capture the main sins of Twitter? I’m sure there are others you’ve seen if you’ve been in social media for any length of time. Please share them here I’d love to write a follow up post on this.

Possibly related posts:
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
10 Reasons I won’t follow you on Twitter

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to evaluate a social media conference

This is the second of two posts on how to find a social media conference and then having found one how to assess its merits. Full disclosure: I am an organizer of a conference at the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology on Sept. 29 called the Social Media and Communication Symposium. To avoid seeming self-serving I will not specifically reference that event here.

You’ve found a couple of social media conferences that look interesting and you’re ready to take your social media strategy to the next level. But how do you decide which conference is right for you AND a good deal?

It comes down to three things:


When considering cost it’s a good idea to add up all of the costs:

The ticket price: This is somewhat obvious and if you have an unlimited conference or training budget may not be a concern, but for most of us …

Other bills: Travel, hotels and meals can add up fast. Is the conference local or nearby? Will it require several nights at a hotel?

Opportunity cost: This is trickier, but you need to know: What business am I not conducting while at a conference? Will what I learn there outweigh any income I lost while away from my business?


As you assess the quality of an event there are several things you should do:

Ask your network: Check with others who have attended the event before. Did they like it or did they love it? Would they drop everything to go again?

Check the footprint: Just how often do the presenters speak at conferences? Get quoted by industry media? Or, how often have they presented in the past 12 months? All of these things will give you a sense of whether the speakers are a big deal or not.

Score the presenters: Using a tool such as Klout will help you find the range of their scores (which measures how influential they are in social media and to some extent how active they are). A recent comparison of two conferences I looked at found one charging $375 per ticket with an average Klout score of 41 and another charging one-tenth of that with an average Klout score of 59. Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout obviously believes a Klout score is a great starting point for evaluating speakers for a conference, "but I'd encourage you to also check their influential topics on Klout and who they're influenced by. That will give you a more holistic sense of their influence and expertise."


What are you looking to get from the conference? Here are some things that may tip the scales one way or the other:

Networking: Conferences aren’t just about hearing from experts they’re also opportunities to connect with people you may only know via social media or not at all. What will the quality of the audience be at your desired events? How relevant is their background and experience? Ask others who’ve been to conferences organized by the same company for insight on this.

Stepping stones: Do the events you’re looking at fit into where you are right now and where you want to get in social media? It makes no sense to go to a beginners’ conference if you’re well beyond that and vice versa.

Continuing ed.: Will there be follow-up opportunities to learn from the people you hear from at the conference? How likely is it that what you take away from the conference can lead to even more learning? Again, check with others who have attended before. Did the learning and growing continue after the conference or was it “one-and-done?”

So, there you have it: A few ideas to help you assess any social media conference you may be interested in. What do you think? Are there other considerations?

Previous post: Social media conferences: How to find them

Monday, August 15, 2011

Social media conferences: How to find them

This is the first of two posts on how to find a social media conference and then having found one how to assess its merits. Full disclosure: I am an organizer of a conference at the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology on Sept. 29 called the Social Media and Communication Symposium. To avoid seeming self-serving I will not specifically reference that event here.

Keeping up with changes in social media and social media strategy can be daunting. So what better way to hear from some leaders in the field than at a social media conference?

But how do you find a conference that might meet your needs? Sadly there is no one catch-all place to find social media conferences.

One site that does list upcoming social media events is Mashable and its
listing of upcoming events. But, as good as it can be it does not appear to be posted on a regular schedule.

So here is what I’m sure is an incomplete starter list of social media conferences. Please feel free to add others in the comments area below and I will update this post as I can:

140 Characters Conference: A yearly conference founded by Jeff Pulver that gathers leaders in the tech industry to discuss Twitter and the real-time Internet. In dozens of 10- to 20-minute addresses, conference speakers cover topics about how Twitter influences the world and Twitter's effects on various industries.

Blog World & New Media Expo: This event includes a Social Media Business Summit and claims it is the world’s largest social media business conference. It says it features social media thought leaders and corporate pros.

Corporate Social Media Summit: This event, organized by Useful Social Media offers "best practice examples and in-depth case studies from some of the leading companies using social media today – Adobe, Dell, SAP, AT&T, Best Buy, the Coca Cola Company." It also offers recordings for a fee.

Social Crush: A two-day, hands-on, interactive social media business conference with a lineup that changes by event, but has recently included speakers and trainers from Twitter, HubSpot, Foursquare, Edelman Digital, Hashable, SayItSocial and PRNewswire.

Social Fresh: A one-day social media conference for marketing professionals that features, according to its site, "case studies, group discussion and learning, instruction and drilling down on topics."

Social Media Plus: A one and one-half day, three-event conference featuring in-depth workshops and expo and 21 seminars led by "marketing directors, technology professionals and social media experts, telling you how they have used social media to build brand, interact with customers and generate revenue. "

Social Media Strategies Summit:
A three-day event where, according to the website: "Attendee’s will learn how to best utilize and integrate the myriad social media platforms to engage customers directly at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing. … Through presentations, case studies and workshops presenters will provide attendees with the skills needed to attract and engage quality customers."

Ragan Communications: This company offers numerous social media-related conferences and online learning opportunities (often with a public relations focus). As someone who has attended Ragan events I can only say that, although expensive, they are very much worth it in terms of the quality of the program and the speakers.

SXSW-Interactive: The “Big Kahuna” of social media events with literally too many venues and too many panels and presentations for one person to take in. Best attended by small teams who split their time and share what they learned. It should be every person in social media’s goal to attend this event at least once, if not every year!


Social Media Success Summit: This entirely online "conference" features 24 social media speakers and thinkers and runs over a three-week period. The sessions are live online and also available taped if the timing is not good for you. This may be a good solution if taking time away from your job or home is impractical.

So there it is. My incomplete, I’m pretty sure, and possibly biased short list of social media conferences. I hope it helps you chart your next learning opportunities in social media and social media strategy.

What did I leave out? Please comment below.

NEXT: How to evaluate a social media conference

Sunday, July 31, 2011

12 Tools to Measure Social Influence (Maybe)

Social media influence is a bit like oxygen – we "know" its there and we know in some sense that it is essential for “life” if we’re in marketing, advertising or public relations, but can we capture it in a jar and observe it? No. Well, at least not entirely.

Any number of tools – freely available on the Web – purport to tell us our overall social media influence or at least a slice of it (a la Twitter).

While none is perfect or complete yet, using a combination of them can prove useful.

Here then is a roundup of tools that measure influence in the social web:

Broad social web tools

Klout: Klout currently track a user’s Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Foursquare activity. It is reportedly looking at Google+ integration. From the Klout blog: "We think you are influential. Klout isn’t about figuring out who is on the 'A-list.' We believe that every person who creates content has influence. Our mission is to help every individual understand and leverage their influence."

PeerIndex: How PeerIndex describes what it measures: "PeerIndex: a measure of your online social capital. Topic fingerprint: a snapshot of what you talk about. Topic resonance: how much other people find what you share valuable. Comparisons: compare yourself to your friends and peers. "

Twentyfeet: What Twentyfeet says it offers: "Aggregated stats in one place. Your overview of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,, Google Analytics, Myspace and more. See how your key performance indicators develop over time. We nudge you when your metrics change significantly."

Empire Avenue: From the home page: "Invest your social capital in people and brands for free using virtual currency" and "Engage and expand your social networks, and learn how to use social media more effectively." Whether a virtual stock exchange and virtual currency truly relates to social standing is still hotly debated on the web.

WhoSay: This invite-only service says this about itself: "WhoSay is a service that helps artists, athletes and iconic personalities connect with their fans. When you see someone posting via WhoSay, you'll know that it's real, authentic messages, photos and videos coming from your favorite people…. As a fan, you may arrive at your favorite artist's, athlete's or personality's WhoSay page by visiting their existing social media sites." In other words, just being here means you likely have influence.

PostRank : This service says it "tracks where and how users engage, and what they pay attention to — in real-time." PostRank says it measures user activity, "the most accurate indicator of the relevance and influence of a site, story, or author." By using Postrank, in a sense, you’re advertising your social popularity so brands can connect with you.

Influencer Exchange: Appinions: From the website: "For any user defined topic, brand or issue, the Influencer Exchange helps you discover, identify, engage and monitor the leading influencers. Leveraging the power of opinions, the Influencer Exchange embraces the Web, social media, forums and news articles to provide a comprehensive view of the influencer landscape."

Twitter tools

Tweetlevel: From the How To Use page: "TweetLevel is a purpose built tool for PR and marketing to help ensure brands use Twitter effectively." From the About page: "This tool will be in permanent beta as we seek to continually improve its functionality based upon your feedback. Even though we believe that it goes a great way to understand and quantify the varying importance of different people's usage of Twitter, by no means whatsoever do we believe we have fully solved the 'influence' problem.”

Twitalyzer: Twitalyzer looks at who is in your social network and, mostly for a variety of fees will give you data across at more than 25 metrics. From the site’s Benchmarks page: "Twitalyzer's Benchmark report allows you to generate ranked lists of Twitter users based on their stated location and the tags that have been applied to their profile."

TweetGrader (formerly TwitterGrader): A site that allows users to see how they compare to hundreds of thousands of other Twitter users, see how they rank in their geographic area, track Follower history and a Quick Follower Check to see if another Twitter user is following you.

Twitaholic: "How's this work? Our Twit-tastic robots scan Twitter a few times a day to determine who’s the biggest twit." Enter your Twitter account name to get your ranking on Twitter (by followers) and by location. This site also encourages you to click through to Twitter Counter.

Twitter Counter: From the site: "Twitter Counter provides statistics of Twitter usage and tracks over 14 million users and counting." Once you’ve entered your Twitter name you can compare your states with two other users.

Possibly related posts:
Do You Care About Influence Scores?
2011: The Year of Klout

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Do You Care About Influence Scores?

I WILL influence you! Wouldn’t social media be turned on its head if simply stating this made it so?

Well, to read some of the debates about social media and influence (and in particular about tools that claim to measure influence) you might think that the whole concept of influence is new and somehow unique to the social web.

But in reality influence (and here I use the term in the sense as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible way") has always existed. It’s just that in the open, transparent social web there are now many ways to attempt to measure that influence.

Tools such as
Klout, PeerIndex, Hubspot’s Grader tools, Tweetlevel and EmpireAvenue can all lay claim to measuring some of our digital footprints across the social web and how those footprints may (or may not) influence others to follow our lead or otherwise act.

The mere availability of these tools is not what is getting folks riled up. No, it’s that some people are publicly admitting to using these tools to make potentially life-changing decisions such as hiring or business relationships.

And this leaves me, Dear Reader, with a dilemma when it comes to advising college students: Should they or should they not pay attention to these scores?

Adding to the debate/confusion/concern are a number of recent writings:

For example, Stephanie Rosenbloom in her New York Times June 25 piece
Got Twitter? You’ve Been Scored Begins with: "Imagine a world in which we are assigned a number that indicates how influential we are…. This is not science fiction. It’s happening to millions of social network users. "

It goes on to quote Azeem Azhar, chief executive of PeerIndex: "We’re at the start of this journey and we expect the journey to take us into much more nuance and granularity."

It then quotes Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing expressing concern "that we are moving closer to creating social media caste systems, where people with high scores get preferential treatment by retailers, prospective employers, even prospective dates."

Then Schaefer, a social media commentator and adjunct professor of marketing at Rutgers University stirred things up with his July 20 blog post
The making of a social media slut where he worries that "An algorithmic measure of influence can never tell the whole story, but it seems that it is starting to become a quick and easy indicator of … something."

The blog is worth a read for its rumination on what the scoring of social presence might mean. But what’s particularly worthy of a read are the comments which, range from "Wow. I feel like I'm back in high school and trying to fit in with the "cool kids" to "If any of those kids had sent me a Klout score, they would have gotten the job."

The debate got so hot-and-heavy that Schaefer felt he needed to comment on his own blog a few days later. His comments are insightful:

"One of the common responses in the comments is that Klout is flawed and even stupid. I can imagine a similar reaction from people who went to see the first silent movies. "This is stupid. The people don't even talk." Similarly, social scoring is in the silent movie era. Klout has millions in VC money and a dozen PhD researchers figuring this out. It is going to get more accurate, more meaningful every day. I'm not defending any company in the field. I'm simply offering a suggestion to be aware of the TREND, not the data point."

Then on July 26 social media author and internationally known speaker Chris Brogan weighed in with his blog post
Influencers where he first advises: "Please stop worrying about your Klout score, or your stock price on Empire Avenue and on all kinds of other measures that don’t have much to do with anything related to your real world."

Before refining his point in answer to a comment: "It's like that line in the Social Network: a million dollars isn't cool; a BILLION dollars is cool. Or however they said it. To me, having a high Klout score isn't cool; having the ear of important people that shift things is cool. : )"

Again a comment war raged on this blog – and is worth a read.

So where does this leave me in terms of advising students?

I think I have to come down on the side of: "Be aware of these tools and what they say about you, but don’t spend your days trying to game the system and raise your scores."

So what do you think? Has social media evolved to the point where measuring each other’s activities with a numeric score makes business or hiring sense?

Possibly related post:
2011: The Year of Klout

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011: The Year of Klout

Got Klout? In social media 2011 is turning out to be the Year of Klout.

The service that began in September, 2009 has rocketed to the front of the pack of tools that attempt to measure overall influence across social platforms.

So what is Klout? It takes social network data and measures the likelihood that each user’s connections will act upon anything that user shares on their networks and then calculates the influence of those connections and their ability to cause actions. In other words it tracks online influence and gives each user a ranking on a scale of 1 to 100.

Initially Klout measured its users’ Twitter and Facebook influence, but 2011 has seen some big changes:

Early 2011: Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome offer add-ons: This allows users of these two browsers to instantly see the Klout score of all the people in their Twitter stream.

May, 2011: Launched a new section on the Klout website highlighting Klout Perks. According to the company’s blog: "Klout Perks are exclusive offers or experiences, given as a result of your Klout. Perks allow brands to connect with influencers in their area of expertise."

Jun 1: Introduced +K: This is a way, as Klout explains on its blog, to augment the data captured by Klout. The tool lets Klout users vouch for their peers’ influence in topics Klout has associated with each user.

June 14: Added Linkedin data to the influence score because with 100 million users of the professional network Klout said it believed adding Linkedin would make for a more accurate overall score.

July 12: Announced its data is in high demand: Klout says that it served more than two billion API calls in the month of June – or four times the demand of three months prior. This means large numbers of services are now seeing value in pulling Klout data.

July 14: Announces that Foursquare is now integrated into Klout scoring. According to a Mashable interview with Klout CEO Joe Fernandez adding Foursquare "is the start of an aggressive process from Klout to add more data sources and granularity to the Klout scores."

And possibly in the near future?

Google+ integration: According to a July 20 post on Klout’s official blog the company has "already started work on ways to assess your influence on Google+"

More on Klout:
• For an example of how Klout stirs passionate debate over the whole topic of measuring social media influence check out Mark Schaefer’s The making of a social media slut blog post (especially the comments area).

• For insight into where Klout has come from and where it is headed read the Forbes interview of Klout CEO Fernandez by Tracy John: Klout CEO On Raising Your Score, Google Plus Integration And Justin Bieber’s Perfect 100

So if you haven’t yet had your fill of Klout keep watching this space because in social media 2011 is most assuredly the Year of Klout.

Monday, June 27, 2011

TFF: The Twitter Follow Formula

After being in social media strategy for some time I’ve developed a formula to decide who I follow on Twitter. And although it is not as precise as say the formula for getting a rocket into outer space it works for me to determine the most relevant and useful Twitter accounts to follow.

So here is the Twitter Follow Formula (or TFF):

If the answer to all (or at least half) of the following questions is “Yes” then the account is a good fit and likely worth your time to follow:

The bio mentions key words relevant to your interests: Yes, some people put words in their bios just to fill them out, but if there is a bio (and if there isn’t I, for one, will not follow that account) it is the first stop on your checklist.

More than half of the most-recent 20 tweets look interesting: The number might vary for you, but if I see that a majority of tweets are about relevant and interesting stuff it helps me decide.

The Follower-Following ratio is not lopsided: The ratio you find “lopsided” will vary but for me if the account is following 20 percent or more accounts than it has followers it tells me one of three things: The account is a “Twitter newbie,” a “Twitter broadcaster” or a “Twitter incompetent.” Any may be a reason not to follow.

The Follower-Tweet ratio is not high: There is no real science here, but if someone has more than three or four tweets for each follower they likely are talking a lot (OK), on auto-tweet (not OK) or just on Twitter to broadcast sales or other messages (definitely not OK).

The account is run by a person: Yes, brands and companies can have Twitter accounts, but I’m just not that interested, usually, in talking to a faceless account. How can I tell? The avatar is a logo or product picture (or worse the “Twitter egg”). The types of tweets are also an indicator: Any account talking about its own products and services too much is there for one reason only.

The account is geographically relevant: In other words its based near you (great for meet-ups in real life) or is based somewhere else on the planet that you have a high interest in. Oh, and note to some: If you say your location is “the world” or “everywhere” I won’t believe you and I won’t follow you. Be genuine.

The hunch or everything just feels right: The least scientific part of the formula is just the sense I get that the account is “for real.” This is based on my belief that our intuition is our sub-conscious trying to tell us something based on all our previous experiences. If anything at all doesn’t seem quite right I stay away.

Because there are seven elements I consider it’s relatively easy to know that I have satisfied a majority of the points. Should the answer to all of them be “yes”? Of course, but on occasion I will follow an account that meets only five of these criteria because I have a sense that the person, for example, is a newbie but shows great promise as a useful member of the Twitter family.

So, when it comes to social media strategy on Twitter how does this list stack up to select people to follow? I’d love to have your input.

Possibly related posts:
Twitter 101 Day 1: Why are you on Twitter?
Twitter 101 Day 2: How will you use Twitter?
Twitter 101 Day 3: Who will you be on Twitter?
Twitter 101 Day 4: When will you be on Twitter?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What are essential social media skills for PR?

Update Aug. 4: Since this original post the number of PR professionals who have taken the survey has risen to more than 100. Among the results the percentages have remained remarkably the same. - Mike Johansson

Twitter or Facebook? Blogs or Wikis? Search Engine Optimization or social media presence management?
What should graduating students interested in public relations careers know about social media tools and how and when to use them?
That was the question I posed via a three-question Survey Monkey survey recently as I started prepping for a new class called Social Media for PR that I’ll teach in the Winter Quarter at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
More than 60 public relations professionals responded to my admittedly un-scientific survey and the results were sometimes intuitive, sometimes surprising and always insightful. Here’s what I learned:

How important is it that PR students understand the various social media tools?
The results (with the percentage of respondents giving each tool a “10” on a 10-point scale) were:
• Twitter – 63 percent
• Facebook – 55 percent
• Blogs – 52 percent
• Social presence management tools (such as Tweetdeck) – 50 percent
• Linkedin – 50 percent
• YouTube – 41 percent
• Wikis – 23 percent
• Flickr – 14 percent
• Social bookmarking – 12 percent
• Geo-location services (such as Foursquare) – 9 percent
• Social gaming – 4 percent

Which tools and techniques MUST students completely understand how to use for PR purposes? Participants were asked rank-order the list: For example, only one tool or technique could be a “10” and only one could be a “9.”
The results (with the percentage of respondents giving each tool a “10” on a 10-point scale) were:
• SEO (search engine optimization) – 33 percent
• Twitter – 19 percent
• Facebook – 18 percent
• Blogs – 12 percent
The results (with the percentage of respondents giving each tool a “9” on a 10-point scale) were:
• Twitter – 23 percent
• Blogs – 22 percent
• SEO – 21 percent
• Facebook – 18 percent
The results (with the percentage of respondents giving each tool an “8” on a 10-point scale) were:
• Linkedin – 26 percent
• Facebook – 24 percent
• Blogs – 20 percent
• Twitter – 15 percent
The high ranking of SEO, frankly, surprised me, while the consistency with which Twitter, Facebook and blogs were given an 8, 9 or a 10 makes it clear they are the big three for now in PR.

How important is it that PR students understand how to use social media for the various public relations functions?
The results (with the percentage of respondents giving each tool a “10” on a 10-point scale) were:
• Crisis management – 63 percent
• Media relations – 60 percent
• Community relations – 57 percent
• Campaign management – 52 percent
• Employee relations – 32 percent
• B2B relations – 31 percent
• Investor relations – 19 percent
• Government relations – 13 percent
All of which tells me a couple of things:
First, social media tools are seen as an effective part of the PR toolkit for the top four on this list and less so for the bottom four.
Second, there may be tremendous potential for developing techniques for better using social media tools in the bottom four categories. Based on some of the comments at the end of the survey this is a chicken-and-egg situation where PR pros are unsure how involved in social media these four groups may be and therefore have not given a lot of thought to how to use them here.

Overall, the responses are tremendously valuable as I develop the course and I’m extremely grateful to the PR pros who took the time to complete the survey.
I’m also impressed that in a very short time (two years or less by my estimation) PR practitioners have gone from casting a wary eye at social media tools and tactics to embracing them as a way to connect with and inform publics everywhere.

Possibly related post
PR crisis management in the ‘Twitter Age’

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Twitter 101 Day 4 When will you be on Twitter?

This is the fourth (and final) in a short series of posts designed to help newbies understand some social media strategy behind the professional use of Twitter. (See the links below for the earlier posts.)

Now that you’re set up on Twitter and you’ve figured out why and how you’ll use it you need to think about when you’ll use it.

The "when" falls into two categories – literally the time of day you’ll be active on Twitter and the stages in your personal and/or business life that you’ll use Twitter.

Let’s deal with the time of day first since there are numerous tools that can help you figure which times are best for you to be active (assuming you’re interested in engaging with people, growing your follower count and getting your tweets re-tweeted). And a quick note: Your results will always be different from anyone else’s since they depend on where in the world your Twitter followers reside and the types of people who follow you (9-to-5-workers vs. college students, for example).

But, maybe the first thing to try is to just experiment with Twitter itself. Try reposting a few different high-quality tweets (newsworthy or in some other way likely to attract a retweeter) over the course of a few weeks. Do this by changing the time of day one week and the days of the week the next and so on. You should repeat the experiment a few times until you start to see trends in retweets (and an attendant jump in follower count).

Some other things to consider include the # FollowFriday effect (there’s a spike in Twitter activity each Friday because of this) and hashtag chats related to your industry (when there will also be a spike in activity among people who are likely highly relevant to your business).

But if you want to use some free tools to help here’s a quick look at some of them (and I freely acknowledge that there are dozens of others out there):


Whentotweet analyzes the time at which your followers tweet and gives you a recommendation on when the best time of day for you to tweet is. The app analyzes your follower data to determine the time of the day your followers are most active and displays the results as a helpful fever chart by time of day.

Tweriod examines up to 5,000 of your followers and generates a report based on the time zone attached to your Twitter profile. The report, in fever chart format, can be selected to show activity on Weekends, Sundays, Mondays, Weekdays and Combined. You can also look at "general stats," "hourly graphs" and "@replies" – all excellent fodder for deciding when to be on Twitter.

Favstar is a site that tracks what you, your friends and everyone else is favoriting on Twitter. This will show you which of your tweets others have found valuable enough to tag as a favorite. The downside, of course, is that not everyone tags all good content as a favorite.

Timely analyzes your past 199 tweets and figures out the best time slots for future tweets. It then uses this information to auto-schedule tweets that you’ve posted to Timely. If this sounds a little creepy or too automated for your tastes, that’s OK, but mow you know it exists.

14 Blocks randomly selects a subset of your followers (500 for the basic plan) and analyzes their recent tweets (past two weeks) to determine the likelihood they will be online at a given time. This is not based on the followers’ activities with you (RTs or @replies), but rather on their activities in general.

In addition to the above tools you can also use link/URL shorteners that offer tracking such as and from Stumbleupon, but that may be getting a little technical for a 101 class!


So now that you’ve figured out the time of day and day of the week it is most likely you’ll connect with others on Twitter. How do you decide when to use Twitter for professional purposes? Obviously the answers are as many and varied as there are individuals on Twitter, but here are a few you may not have considered:

Offering help/Answering a question: The No. 1 way to get a good "rep" on any social network is to be helpful. So by watching your Twitter stream and offering to help or sharing an answer to another Tweep’s question you will earn a lot of goodwill.

Asking for help/Asking a question: Used rarely and strategically, asking a question or asking for help can also help you build relationships. Since Twitter limits response to 140 characters people are more inclined to help in this limited way. They may also see value in helping beyond the 140. Ask and you will receive – it’s a Twitter thing.

Testing an idea: You don’t have to give away the farm, but you can use Twitter as a sounding board for a new service or a new product or even just to discover a need. Just be careful to ask the right question.

Planning a trip or an event: Need to find a hotel in your price range in a city you’re unfamiliar with? Want to know if that airline deal is as good as it seems? Need to know what to do with that extra day in London? Need help to plan a conference? There are plenty of people on Twitter who would be happy to help. Just remember that some of them also represent a particular interest (which just a little snooping usually reveals).

Finding collaborators or employees: Need physical help? Twitter is also a good place to spread the word about your needs. People are usually willing to retweet or pass along your information to others they know who can help.

Of course there are many, many more, but I don’t want this blog to become
War & Peace!

So, there you have it a few tree-top-level tips on how to figure out when to be on Twitter. And that ends your fourth (and final) Twitter 101 lesson. If you read the series, congratulations for graduating with honors!

What do you think? Will this series help a social media strategy newbie figure how they’ll use Twitter? Should I plan a follow up series called Twitter 102 for later in June?

Earlier posts in the series:
Twitter 101 Day 1: Why are you on Twitter?
Twitter 101 Day 2: How will you use Twitter?
Twitter 101 Day 3: Who will you be on Twitter?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twitter 101 Day 3: Who will you be on Twitter?

This is the third in a short series of posts designed to help newbies understand some social media strategy behind the professional use of Twitter.

Now that you’re set up on Twitter and have figured out how you’ll use it you need to think about your Twitter "persona."

Below are several personas I’ve seen on Twitter. One or more may describe you. The important thing – if your goal is professional networking and growth via Twitter – is that you are aware of your persona. Which of these fit you?


1. The Helper: This persona type is extremely unselfish and is on Twitter to help others by sharing interesting and relevant content. They often retweet (RT) the posts of others. They go out of their way to connect those among their followers who may have a mutual interest. They steadily build an authentic and relevant following. They very rarely ask for help, but when they do they always get it.

2. The Conversationlist: This type spends serious blocks of time on Twitter publicly chatting (with "@" messages) with followers. They sometimes share very good content and they often act as a connector between people on Twitter. They tend to build an authentic and very committed following. They rarely ask for help, but when they do they almost always get it.

3. The Listener: This type spends a lot of time watching from the sidelines and only occasionally engages in public conversations with other Twitter users. They do not often retweet others’ posts, but when they do you can bet it’s something special. This person tends to be following more people than are following them. They’re often in the early stages of Twitter use and should be cautious about asking for help too often.

4. The Humanist: This Twitter type is all about being genuinely themselves – to the point of happily mingling their personal lives ("Just picked up the girls from soccer") with their professional lives ("This post on Social Media Today is great …"). They’re OK with this intermingling and believe it may help them seem more real. They are quite picky about who they follow and often do not build a vast following very quickly – but they’re OK with that. While this leads to deeper Twitter relationships (and real-world networking) it can be hard to leverage for business purposes except with business contacts you are already closely connected to.


1. The Aggressive Self-Promoter: The person who talks about themselves far too much. How much is too much? There’s no science behind this, but if more than one in 10 or one in 20 tweets is self-serving it’s likely that this person’s followers will mostly be auto-followers and other bots.

2. The Non-Stop Talker: This character, although few in numbers, gives Twitter a bad name. They’re essentially clueless about Twitter and keep tweeting the most mundane details of their lives or feel compelled to tweet dozens of times per day. Their ratio of tweets to followers is your first clue: Anyone with a ratio of 10 tweets or more per follower is talking a lot and not being found useful by very many people.

3. The Flamethrower: This is someone (or some business) trying very hard to get notoriety on Twitter. They’ll try to engage big names on Twitter with inane or just purposefully inflammatory statements or use ALL CAPS and provocative language just to get attention.

So, there you have it, your third Twitter 101 lesson. What do you think? Are there other personas I’ve missed? Will this help a social media strategy newbie figure how they’ll use Twitter?

Earlier posts in the series:
Twitter 101 Day 1: Why are you on Twitter?
Twitter 101 Day 2: How will you use Twitter?