B2B marketers, do you have Klout on Twitter?

Klout, is apparently the barometer for measuring influence across online social networks. It is becoming more important to b2b marketers migrating more activity online as it offers a way of validating that activity and create an ROI metric.

If you use Hootsuite to operate your Twitter account, you might have noticed it appeared several months ago, without much fanfare. But don’t be fooled, it drives the thinking of lots of social networkers and you should be aware of it.

The debate has raged as to how the score (anything from 1 to 100) is calculated, what it draws on and ultimately how relevant it is.

On the How we Measure page, Klout talks about True Reach, Amplification, Probability and Network Score. In essence, this relates to how often your tweets are clicked, commented on and retweeted.

To me, measuring on this basis and giving a comparitive score makes sense, but isn’t it simply skewed in favour of Twitter accounts with very large followings? And if you don’t get involved in conversations on Twitter – instead preferring to use email, the phone or face-to-face techniques – your score is heavily reduced.

My own case illustrates this. I’m a pretty active Twitter user. I use it to broadcast new blog posts from The Marketing Assassin, and BDB.  I also share a lot of interesting content I source from the web and other Twitter users and this is often taken up by other users. And I indulge in some conversations too. I’ve built my following steadily and resist automation. I roughly have the same number of followers as I follow and am well into the thousands.

My Klout score for a long time was 5 (out of 100) which to me, just didn’t stack up. Consequently, I paid little interest in Klout. Then a few weeks back it jumped to 48. I didn’t change my level or type of activity so it leaves me thinking is it really relevant.

I’m not convinced but I do credit the people behind it for trying to create a metric to determine social networking value. It does after all suck up time, and especially in the professional b2b space, time is money.

What’s your take /experience on Klout?

Image: Social Fresh

Top Tweets of the Week we 10 Dec 2010

Hope you’ve had a great week. Here are a few things that inspired, educated, informed and entertained me this week.

Mon – Incredible: RT @jeffbullas: 90 Tips To Make Your Blog Rock http://bit.ly/hfuq2x

Mon – 15 of the lamest Google Ads ever http://t.co/pzRAzx4 via @Econsultancy

Tues – RT @TomPick How to Make PR and Social Media Work Together | Webbiquity | B2B Marketing Blog http://bit.ly/eTxVn7

Weds – Why Klout doesn’t count: putting social media influence in context http://t.co/Lm5988b via @Econsultancy

Fri -What’s the next big idea in B2B? http://t.co/TrACPzv via @MLTCreative

And finally, purely for comedy value, check out this dopey arsenist who gets outmanoeuvred by a lampost fleeing the scene of the crime http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-11942814

Have a great weekend! RP

Marketing Metrics 9: Micro blogging

One of the liveliest and often most polarising marketing debates centres around the relevance of Twitter for marketers. Like most social media tools, Twitter was establishing as a personal networking tool, but brands are trying to use the platform to understand and engage with customers.

What is true about Twitter is its addictiveness. If you adopt a ‘have a go’ approach, expect to spend a huge amount of time but probably garner precious little return – either in investment or involvement terms.

For fairly obvious reasons (and like other marketing tools) use it strategically and to add value or inform your understanding of your target audiences. Sounds complicated and overly dramatic but if you fancy getting your tweet on, consider the following:

1. Personal v business

People still predominantly engage with people. Corporate brands don’t tend to do terribly well on Twitter (though there are frequently cited examples of retail and customer service from Dell_Outlet and Zappos). Corporate accounts can be used to source and find information and insight but arguably little engagement. In my view, unless you already have brand magnetism (like a magazine, website, news resource or consumer brand) it is best to set up a Twitter account with an actual personal identity. It gives people something to engage with. A corporate account will inevitably follow a broadcast rather than an engagement model.

2. Selling v engaging

Businesses have to sell to make money. So be clear – decide if you are selling, if so what, and if so what is the value proposition for Twitter followers. Don’t build an audience following interesting tweets, quotes, comments and insights and then when you have them, hit them with sales collateral. Why? They’ll drop you. If you are going to sell, build in pricing related to time sensitivity – like early bird course bookings which work well in the event sector. Accept that your attempts to build an audience will be more difficult, but you will at least have an interested niche audience.

3. Follows v followers

Conventional Twitter wisdom suggests that if you follow 100 people, 50 may follow you back. This is often how businesses get started. By association. So use Twitter search or look up lists that other people create (@MarketingB2B is one of my personal favourites). You might blast follow lots of like-minded accounts and hope they follow back. Or simply follow those you like the look of. Over time you can use tools like Twinfluence to remove those who aren’t following you – if you are Machiavellian in outlook.

4. To retweet or not to retweet

Depending on the content of your tweets, you’ll pick up followers regularly. Retweeting things you like is the best and fastest way to building a profile and developing influential contacts. You become an information resource to people who haven’t got the time to plough through it all themselves.

5. Metrics

Metrics relating to social media and Twitter specifically cover a broad range from insignificant to significant. My advice. Look beyond follows, retweets etc and consider your wider influence. Is activity on Twitter integrated with other platforms such as your blog, website or YouTube account? Can you see a tangible uplift in newsletter subscriptions, white paper downloads or incredulously, leads?

Monitoring tools like Klout (which has found its way into Hootsuite) exist to give a score based on activity around your profile. I view them with scorn as they are easy to manipulate. If you have way more followers than you are following, succeed in getting your tweets retweeted, receive lots of @ messages then you are likely to have a high influence score. I’ve seen people with 200 followers, sending 5,000 inane tweets have influence scores 50+/100. Is that influence? I’m not convinced.

Here is a metrics-cloud I created drawing on a number of resources, not least Jim Sterne’s excellent Social Media Metrics. Jim compiles a list of over 100 at the outset if you really want to get stuck into it. What it highlights to me is that there are so many ways of determining how investment of time in social media can be measured – and some of them are actually worthwhile!!

Summary

Twitter works for me. I’m in it for the long haul. At this stage I’m not really selling, I’m profile building. I integrate it with other sites for content and use it broadcast my blog and share those I respect from Google Reader feeds.

What has this taught me? A lesson about Twitter, wider marketing and life perhaps. Think through what you’re doing and ensure you are getting something out of it. And, if you are considering it for business, think even harder. Set objectives and a way of measuring the time spent – whilst return on investment might be difficult, return on involvement can certainly be achieved.