My Dad did business old-school style. When he had a salesman come into the office to pitch him something, they had better have packed a lunch because they were going to be there for a while. My Dad was all about relationship-building. I was privy to a few of those meetings. They always started on the personal stuff then gradually went into the economy and politics, then went into my Dad's industry, then his business in particular. Only after they had talked about everything else did they finally discuss why they were there and what they were trying to sell to my Dad. It was truly an art form.
And it's alive and well today. Every once and a while you'll see it in face-to-face business, but it's prevalent online in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc. And only those who truly understand the art form of relationship-building are using social media wisely and successfully. Social media is all about relationship-building. Sure, there are plenty of businesses using it incorrectly by treating social media as a type of billboard for their company, and there are plenty of people using social media who aren't doing business at all, or so they think.
In the real world, all other factors aside, is the salesman who hasn't built a relationship with a potential customer, [who maybe has only sent a letter and a business card to a potential customer], more influential than the salesman who has taken the extra steps that involve time and money to build a relationship with the potential customer? Not generally. People do business with people they know, and social media provides a simple, fast and effective way for people to influence others.
Now this influence may be for business reasons, or it may be that as a consumer, I like this product and service, and I think you, my followers, ought to try it. In other words, I might not be involved in the "receiving end" of the sales process of that product and service, but I think it's great, and I think you might like it too. Either for business or personal reasons, I have influence over my followers or connections that I have made through social media.
The knowledge of any one person's influence over another can be very valuable to those who are selling products and services. Ever since the first ads on radio back in the late 1920's and early 1930's in the United States, businesses have known this. Ads were intentionally made to target homemakers, or the women of the households. I mean, why target a man of the household while trying to advertise inventions like the washer machine that lessened the workload in the home? If you don't think a wife doesn't have influence over her husband in this situation, think again. Also, the woman of the household had friends and neighbors who she had influence over as well. If you don't think that after they finished complaining about their husbands over cups of coffee around the kitchen table that they didn't talk about that new washing machine that they finally got their husband to buy, think again.
Women of the households have always had influence over the purchases for their homes and the appliances in them, and advertisers understood that then as they do now.
And though there are quite a few companies who provide a way to measure a person's influence, none have marketed themselves as well as the company Klout. Additionally, Klout has a different business model than any of the other companies. The other companies that I've looked at utilize freemium business models and not all of them measure the same exact thing. Also, none of them are able to measure accurately a particular person's influence over people. None of them. Not even Klout. Klout does a better job at marketing themselves, but they also have a different business model. Instead of having those of us who utilize social media for our own personal and business reasons pay for additional analytic and metric services, they first built up a following from Twitter then gradually added other social media sites. Using an algorithm they measured analytics and metrics for free, called it influence, assigned each of us an arbitrary number between 1 and 100, and marketed the heck out of it. Once they built up their own clout with social media users, they marketed their influence measurement information to companies and advertisers. It's a great idea. Companies offer promotional items, or perks, to those who are influential in topics that are related to their business through Klout, and Klout charges the companies for that information. The company's hope in this advertising gamble is that the influencer who receives the perk will tweet at least once about it. Thus influencing their followers to buy the product or service. It's not any different than a blogger accepting an item from a company or vendor to review, except there is a middle man making money off the both of us. Word of mouth advertising works. We're just not sitting around the kitchen table anymore discussing it. We're online using social media to discuss it.
However, since the algorithm was created for just Twitter, as they added other social media platforms, the arbitrary number assigned by Klout to indicate a particular person's influence was not accurately portraying a person's influence across all the social media platforms that they gradually added over time. So they updated the algorithm, causing the numbers to change and to mostly go down, which admittedly can look bad. And I'm sure they did more algorithm-tweaking. However, it's an arbitrary number, and it's a number that does not accurately portray any one person's influence over another all by itself. And this is why:
Does this make Klout bad? No. I think they have a great business model. I wish I had thought of it. They don't measure everything, but they do measure something. Just what exactly that is, I'm not sure. I have to guess. They're not revealing that, but a little more transparency would be nice. However, there are a few things I think they need to reconsider. From the beginning, I have never liked the popups that harass me when I immediately navigate to their site. I don't need a popup telling me my score has gone down or up, for Pete's sake. The number is big enough on the site. I'm not that blind yet.
I also don't like the popup telling me I'm influential over someone else. I already know that. Duh. You got the information from me. Don't worry, Klout. When I'm offered a perk, I let everyone know on Twitter that I earned one, I let everyone know when I receive it in the mail, and then I let everyone know if I liked it or not. I do my part in your business model. It's the least I could do for the free perk (which by the way wasn't free because my time equals money).
I also don't think Klout really thought out the Facebook integration very well either. Yes, many people use Facebook for business, but many use it for personal reasons as well. Yes, we have influence over those people, but I don't necessarily want to involve my family in my business [which is ironic because my business is family history]. I read on another site how one mother was faced with a popup of a picture of her son and it read that Klout thinks she was influential over her teenaged son. Well, duh. And? That number would, I would imagine, go up or down depending on the hour. In fact, just because a mother interacts with her son or daughter [or any other family member for that matter] on Facebook does not mean she has influence over them online that would benefit a company's business model or goals. In my humble opinion, the Facebook integration is extremely flawed. Trust me, I'm not going to be able to get my teenaged daughter to buy a subscription to a genealogy database site. And what about the security issues? Aren't those being violated? Anyone can look me up in Klout, and if Klout determines that I'm extremely influential over my minor daughter just because I've communicated with her on Facebook to get her butt home to clean her room, means that anyone can see her bright and shiny face on my Klout account. Hear me loud and clear, Klout. This Mama Bear doesn't like that.
I also don't like how everyone who has a social media account that is measured by Klout is automatically opted into Klout. Klout has enough clout [Hee-hee.] and a good enough business model to get the word out through social media. They need to drink their own Kool-aid. As mentioned above, I send out the marketing love when I tweet about a perk, and I do it every time I give +k to someone. Klout should use its influence to gain more potential influencers instead of using a default method. That's not very transparent. It's shady. Klout should use its own clout.
And this is where my business model and Klout's business model diverge. The analytics and metrics they provide is good enough for them to convince advertisers to advertise through them. However, their analytics and metrics aren't good enough for me to run my business and make branding decisions through them solely.
All in all, measuring my influence in social media isn't any other person's or organization's responsibility. It's mine. From the beginning I've used 3 other companies that measure my social media analytics and metrics. Not any of them are perfect on their own including Klout, but together with all the other ways I measure how I'm doing, I can get a more accurate picture of my social media influence. Will I continue to use Klout? Yes. I like free stuff, and I like connecting with companies and promoting their stuff as long as everything is on the up and up. It's a transaction that I willingly enter into because I want to. Plus? My kids aren't allowed to use Facebook. I text them when they need to get their butts home to clean their rooms. I'm influential like that. But it's between me and my kids, you know?
Moreover, topics such as social media for your genealogy-related business or organization will be just one of the things I cover on my up and coming blog BloggingGenealogy.com. Currently, I'm building up a mailing list for it so that when I actually start sharing content with my readers, I already have some committed readers to my blog. In the meantime, I'm building relationships through social media using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, Foursquare, my blogs, and anything else I can think of.
Will you join me? You can sign up for the BloggingGenealogy.com mailing list on its website. It's for genealogy bloggers, for genealogical and historical societies, and for professional genealogists who want to market themselves online.
And you can join the mailing list for this blog, For Your Family Story, to get weekly updates about this blog and it includes genie-techie news, reviews, giveaways, and more. Just scroll up and enter in your email address in the top right hand corner of the screen, or enter it below.
Just to be clear, though, there are 2 different mailing lists because each blog is targeting different people. Does this mean I have a marketing plan? Yes. Does this mean all my social media networking is fake? Nope. I just love getting to know people and exposing them to the idea of genealogy and family history, like an ambassador, of sorts. However, I have 2 kids to put through college. I'd like to do that by doing something that I'm passionate about, genealogy, through a means that I love, social networking. You know, relationship-building? Like my Dad. [Only through a computer and the internet and with people all around the world.]