klout

Why Klout and Kred Fail

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Image by Continuum

Last Friday, I spoke at TEDx Peachtree about how any of us can become influential and affect change in our world (you can read my speech here).

The speech took to task social scoring technologies Klout and Kred for failing to predict influencers and movements as they arise.

Attention — and more specifically public recognition of influence — almost always occurs after the fact. Someone who achieves a high Klout score for something notable already created that act.

That does not mean they will repeat their successes and inspire widespread action over and over again.
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Coping with the Klout Reality

Lost
Image by cintamamat

Marketers and individuals will have to deal with social scoring in the form of Klout and its sister technologies.

As time progresses, technologies and alliances evolve. I haven’t written about Klout outside of general discussions on social scoring for a good long while.

There wasn’t much to say. I agreed in principal with many of my colleagues and their continuing coverage about the broken nature of influence metrics.

But I had a second reason: As a professional communicator, it’s become increasingly clear that we won’t escape Klout, Kred and PeerIndex.

The business marketplace cannot help itself. It will chase quick fixes to community building, recruitment and measuring individual online capabilities, making social scoring an obvious play. I have three reasons for coming to this conclusion.
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A Heretic’s Quest for Influence Beyond Klout

fire
Image by Matthew Venn

Influence: The act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command.

I’m reading a series of books right now trying to understand what makes someone influential. There are more tangential theories and approaches into the psychology of motivation than one can imagine, well beyond the universe of Klout.

It’s easy to conclude that no one understands what causes one person to influence another.

Today’s influence theories offer just a slice of individual online behavior based on attention and reach metrics. These strength and influence algorithms support theories about content production and authority. Yet they cannot identify what causes actual people and their larger social networks to adapt and move towards new ideas and behaviors. I will prove this shortly with my very good Klout score and my very humble AdAge Power 150 ranking.
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Do We Really Need Likes?

Rohit Bhargava & Aaron Strout
Rohit Bhargava and Aaron Strout at SxSW

Friend, fellow Washingtonian and author Rohit Bhargava released his second book Likeonomics this month. Continuing a tradition of celebrating friends’ books on this blog, I’m giving away five copies of Likeonomics to the best answers/comments to this question posed by Rohit:

“The biggest question that I had to tackle in the book was this: Does likeability really matter that much? Isn’t the quality of a product, service or idea really the most important thing?”

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The Abominable Influencer

Abominable Snowmen?
Image by codecarnage

You probably know the legend as Bigfoot, the yeti, or the Abominable Snowman. The mysterious, gigantic hairy biped eludes human contact in mountainous regions, vying for its own survival. Thrilling and scary at the same time, northern cultures dream of this elusive and powerful icon of the unexplored wilderness.

Similarly, PR and marketing types alike dream of the influencer, the person who will trigger an online contagion (a.k.a. viral event). They desperately look for that powerful personality who will become their brand hero.

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The PR Industry Can’t Help Itself

Agencyinsanity

Of all the professional skill groups that can be included in the marketing toolkit, public relations is the most ridiculous (PR is also used for public affairs and other non-marketing activities). Filled with backwards unethical and untrained professionals that consistently spam people and promote attention metrics instead of actual outcomes, the PR profession can’t help its poor image.
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The Great Fracture

Petermann Glacier September 2008 [High Res]
Image by NASA

Every mature market experiences rising competition that carves off specialized pieces of the leaders’ established footprint. It’s how Southwest, JetBlue and others brought the major traditional airlines to their knees (and bankruptcy). For social networking leaders, the great fracture is upon them. Those of us on the front line are left to pick networks and tools.

Facebook has run away with the race. Twitter, LinkedIn, and a host of smaller social networks have taken their seats behind the leader. Yet as time continues, more and more niche networks like Tumblr, Instagram, shiny object du jour Pinterest, Reddit and others carve off their piece of the pie.

The phenomena of so many social media choices has moved from creating to social media fatigue for the most faithful to full-on overload. Even the most tech savvy people find themselves making tough choices.

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