Archives for posts with tag: klout


Have you checked your Klout score lately? How about your Empire Avenue share price? Or how many people have friended you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter?

Suddenly everybody talks about influence.

Hotels look at Klout scores to decide who gets past the velvet rope. Brands can now engage Facebook fans based on Klout scores. And Peter Shankman had an invite list to an exclusive holiday bash based on Klout scores.

Clearly, the world has gone mad.

While I write this, all over the world brands and lonely people in basements use their HootSuite and Klout dashboards to filter anyone with a Klout score of above 50 or so into a special list they will name “Influencers”, “VIP” or “Thebestestofthebestest.” Once they’ve done that, they will focus all their work and effort on getting the attention of these people. And they will pop the champagne once @chrisbrogan or @armano retweets them. Or if others will mention their brand.

This is proof the world has gone mad.

Sure, when somebody like @chrisbrogan retweets you, you get a lot of reach. Suddenly your blog gets a lot more traffic than usual, people will chime in talking about your brand. But this doesn’t last. This reach evaporates very quickly. And you have to start this vicious Sisyphus-like cycle all over again.

So, let’s say your business is colorful T-shirts. You can try all day long to get the attention of an “A-lister”. One day a person with a Klout score of 83 (the range is 1-100) mentions your product. You will get a spike in traffic to your site, additional new fans and followers. Sales? Not sure.

People like @armano or @chrisbrogan have this high Klout score and are called by others influencers because they create interesting content. They take and took the time to be an active part of the community they serve. They don’t use influencers to get the word out, they show people their value through their content.

Let’s get back to the owner of the colorful T-shirt business. He gave up on influencers and started to build a dedicated community of interested people. People that love colorful shirts, that love to express their personality through colorful T-shirts. They can be security guards, CEO’s, admin assistants – it doesn’t matter. That aforementioned security guard is working in a mall and one day he starts talking to the buyer of a major department store about these colorful T-shirts. And the buyer checks them out and orders 2,000 pieces.

But the security guard has a Klout score of 12. Who cares about him?

We need to save the world from this influencer garbage.

The owner of the T-shirt business cares. Because he understood that these numbering schemes redefined popularity and called it influence.

Here’s the truth:

  • Forget about influencers.
  • Don’t mistake popularity for influence.
  • Become your own influencer.
  • It’s going to be hard.
  • It’s going to be exhausting work.
  • It’s going to take time.

One last advice.

Influence comes from the strangest places. Sometimes it comes from people you would never talk to or be friends with.

A guy has an interesting way of dancing. We don’t know his Klout score. We don’t know his Twitter follower count. We know that one person joins him and within seconds we have a movement.

If interesting-way-of-dancing-guy can do it, you can do it.


There are two misconceptions about influence.

We are profoundly influenced by small, often imperceptible experiences.

We don’t develop an opinion based on one experience. (Unless it’s very traumatic.) We develop an opinion based on thousands of small experiences. You don’t feel the way you feel about an airline because they misplaced your bag. You might still love them because they treated you nice at the check-in, the flight attendant smiled at you and gave you a second peanut bag, their site is easy to maneuver – you get my point. Based on thousands of choices and experiences, we form an opinion

Every silo is your brand.

People don’t think in enterprise silos. When your Customer Service sucks, your brand sucks. When your marketing is annoying, your brand is annoying. When you product breaks, your brand is broken.

Just like customers, you need to look at your brand holistically. Where are the biggest weaknesses and opportunities. How can you improve the customer experience as quickly and as efficient as possible?

I know, this clashes with the reality of many enterprises. There are budget fiefdoms, procurement battles and walls behind more walls.

Customers don’t care about it. They want a consistent, superior experience.

You need to provide it.


Remember the first time you heard about Twitter? Your initial reaction might have been “I don’t care what people have for lunch.” What about Second Life? “Who cares about nerds with weird avatars wasting their time in a virtual world?”

When new platforms are introduced to us, we often underestimate their real value. Or we fall for it and wake up months later “What was I thinking?”

That’s my current dilemma: I’m not sure what category fits Empire Avenue.

What is Empire Avenue?

Empire Avenue is a social game. As a beginning user you’re valued at a set share price of around $9 “Eaves” (the Empire Avenue currency), and your value increases as others purchase your shares, as you are more involved on social platforms, and also participate on the Empire Avenue platform, unlocking features and getting dividends from virtual goods or ownership in other members.

Empire Avenue was founded in 2009 but started to get real attention on the Social Web just a month ago when many early adopters started to join. While Klout only measures interactions on Facebook and Twitter, Empire Avenue paints a more holistic, social picture by connecting accounts to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Facebook Pages and YouTube.

Another navel-gazing fad?

Let’s face it: Many social platforms have turned into high school popularity contests. Brands and people are busy gaming the system to have a lot of followers, “likes” and “friends”. What they tend to forget is that popularity doesn’t equal influence. It’s a very loose link, as loose as the tooth I just pulled out my 6-year old daughter’s mouth. And, Kathy Sierra makes a very good point, commenting on David Armano’s blog:

“I do not think these are purely harmless pursuits for precisely that reason: our focus and attention is zero-sum unless everything we do is directly in service of the same goals. But for too many of us, focusing on building OUR social currency comes at the direct expense of other things we could be doing that would be far more useful (and ultimately desirable) for our users.”

An opportunity for brands?

Many companies have joined Empire Avenue so far: IntelCareer Builder, Lincoln, Alcatel, AT&T – just to name a few. I can see the benefits: You find influencers and evaluate their behavior. You can reward people when they buy the shares of your company. You can engage in conversations with influencers. You can leverage the API to tie their data into your existing CRM system.

Strong arguments to join the game but the questions remain (as it always should be the real question when joining a social platform): Will participation in this tool increase the likelihood for people to change behavior? They might just buy your shares because they want to win the game, not because they want to buy your product.

Brands: Let’s wait

As always: You need to have your digital house in order, deliver the best, most user-friendly site out there, an engaging Facebook experience and a valuable Twitter stream. And be a worthwhile presence on other social platforms that meet your business needs. Once you feel comfortable and deliver solid ROI on all your chosen platforms, you can start experimenting with Empire Avenue.

You should join

While I don’t see the immediate benefit for brands to join now, I believe you should join as an individual today. Set up your profile, explore the site and all the functionalities. Form your own opinion. Nobody knows yet if Empire Avenue will turn into Twitter or Second Life. You make the call.

And, once you joined, make sure to say hi.


There was a time when influence was pretty much fixed and set in stone. Beyond our little family/friend tribe, we just had interactions with poorly connected individuals and groups. The connections were so poor that we often forgot about them, any move or change in lifestyle made connections disappear for good. (I moved almost 20 times in my life and my old stomping grounds are littered with lost connections.) Influence used to be characterized by repeated interactions with the same poorly connected individuals.

Influence is fluid now

Influence has nothing to do with popularity or fame. It’s also not equal to the nature or form in which we are connected to each other. Influence is about adopting an idea or behavior amongst the people around us and the others around them. Influentials don’t do anything to others, it’s the response of the influenced that counts.

Influence is not important when it comes to life-or-death decisions. When I dislocate my shoulder, I won’t ask my social graph if I should go to the hospital or not. But I will ask my connections if I should buy an Apple or Dell monitor. Or if that certain movie is worth watching. Influence comes down to move the needle between equally good and fundamentally indistinguishable options. And we feel comfortable to ask for advice from fleeting, indirect connections to millions of others and their groups and their connections. These groups and connections change for any decision I’m making. They are not fixed or determined by the number of Twitter followers or Facebook connections.

That’s one of the fallacies of the whole Klout debate: There’s no fixed score of influence. Everything is fluid.


Maureen Dowd published a piece about verbal abuses and the sprawling gutter of our Internet experience.

“Evgeny Morozov, author of “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom,” told me Twitter creates a false intimacy and can “bring out the worst in people. You’re straining after eyeballs, not big thoughts. So you go for the shallow, funny, contrarian or cynical.”

“Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” says technology amplifies everything, good instincts and base. While technology is amoral, he said, our brains may be rewired in disturbing ways.

“Researchers say that we need to be quiet and attentive if we want to tap into our deeper emotions,” he said. “If we’re constantly interrupted and distracted, we kind of short-circuit our empathy. If you dampen empathy and you encourage the immediate expression of whatever is in your mind, you get a lot of nastiness that wouldn’t have occurred before.”

Brands have real problems dealing with the bottom feeders

It’s easy to filter out $%#@#@ words, delete spammers, racist and sexist comments. But it’s hard to deal with a disgruntled customer that turns into an abuser once he hits the keyboard.

While I believe that customer service is the new marketing by being public and transparent, I also believe strongly that nobody has to put up with abusive behavior.

Lifetimes ago, I worked as the Station Manager for United Airlines at Heathrow. At last 5 times a day, I had to deal with First/Business Class passengers that assumed they bought the right to turn into a combination of Omarosa and Nikita Krushchev when they purchased an expensive ticket. I saw affluent, normal-looking people open up their suitcases, throwing the content all over the terminal. I saw adult men with beautiful business cards taking off all their clothes because they were enraged that we dared asking them questions about their luggage (Years after Lockerbie.) They weren’t allowed to board. And they swore to call the CEO of United, the US president and the Pope. And they claimed never to fly to United again. Just to show up next day, answering all questions, being polite, doing everything to get on that plane. Because they needed to go from A to B. They had status. And they realized they acted like jerks.

It’s easier being a jerk on the Web

Insert the Social Web. Suddenly, anybody can create a blog about their negative experiences. You can slam brands all day long. You can use your social Klout to get your way. Brands should react to justified complaints. But they shouldn’t run scared of their loyal customers when they turn into jerks.

When disgruntled customers turn your Facebook page into their playground of negativity, block them.

When angry people own your Twitter stream by spamming it with their bad experience, block them.

Make sure to develop procedures in advance to deal with these customers. Things happen. Get in touch with them and offer an opportunity to resolve their issue in a more appropriate environment. But don’t become the hostage of your own social platform.

You didn’t develop a Facebook page to get abused. You developed it to engage with people, understand their concerns, help them. Don’t let others turn them into their abusive playground.


Howard Stern started tweeting two weeks ago. You might not agree with everything he does but I think we can all agree he’s an influential. In the first few days, he tweeted lingerie shots of his wife, commented on various events – exactly what you would expect from Howard Stern.

Last Saturday, he started an interesting experiment. He watched his movie Private Parts and tweeted comments and interesting details about the movie. He answered questions, interacted with the audience. It was spontaneous and it should open our eyes what real influence is.

Most celebrities have huge stats. But they are not influential.

The real influence doesn’t live in the node, how big it may be. It lives in the interactions and engagement between the nodes. These interactions are the real measuring stick of an influential. Howard Stern is not a Social Media expert, he is just a natural influencer. He might have the most avid fan base. Do you know any personality that could have brought millions of paying customers to Sirius? The reason why he’s so influential is his deep understanding of how to be an influencer: Give people something to do. Give them a common symbol (Bababooey), give them a common cause (revealing the shallowness of our popular culture) and bring them together around something they can care about (Being #1).

Interestingly, the real work is done by the influenced. They make prank phone calls, they yell “Bababooey” on the street, and they pay $12 monthly to listen to him.

The silliness of sponsored tweets

Finding an influencer (through Klout or other tools) and then providing them with a message they will share with their audience might give your brand more reach. But it won’t change anyone’s behavior. Humans are not mindless bots that follow the command of a celebrity. We are social primates that want to engage with each other. We are more likely to change our behavior when see others adopting the same behaviors. (Just ask smokers, standing in the pouring rain because they have become outcasts.)

Don’t focus on numbers. Focus on behavior. There are certain people that have the ability to connect with a larger audience, find platforms to engage with each other and change behavior. A Bababooey to y’all.