Social Media Experiment

Most bloggers get a thrill out of knowing that their posts have been read and have made a difference with their readers.  Truth be told, I’m not very different.  And, having a background in marketing research, I do pay attention to the analytics of my blog.  I watch site views, which sites bring in views (referring sites), blog post “likes” and comments.

One of the site stats I find most interesting is WordPress’ “Views By Country.”  I’m proud to share that my blog has been read by people in 49 different countries!  Each time my site is visited by someone in a country for the first time, that country gets colored in on a world map.  Here’s what it looks like at the present time:

Since late February, my site has been visited by every continent on the map (Antarctica not included)!  As of a few weeks ago, the most glaring omissions (by land size) were Australia, Greenland and China.  A few strategic tweets to promote my blog specifically mentioned that I would love for views from those countries.  Perhaps it was coincidence, but soon after Australia was on the board.

Are you game for a social media experiment?  I’d love to see if I could get some of the remaining larger land masses filled in on the map!

  • I’m missing all of Central America:  Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
  • In South America I’m missing Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay (as well as a few others).
  • I’m missing most of Africa, but the biggest omissions appear to be South Africa and Madagascar.
  • In Asia, the largest countries that are missing include China, Japan, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
  • In Europe, I would love site views from Finland, Poland, Belarus and Austria.
  • And, Greenland and Iceland are still missing too.

Are you connected on LinkedIn, Google+ or Facebook with anyone in the countries I listed?  If so, could you promote your favorite post (among the 28 I’ve written so far) to them?  If you’re on Twitter, could you do the same and mention one of the countries in your tweet?  I’m curious to see what the power of an online network and social media can accomplish when it comes to marketing and promotion.

I thank you in advance for your help and assistance and I’ll report back in a week with the results to see what we were able to accomplish together!

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Learning With Perspective

I recently met with a prospective client and one of the things we discussed was my blog.  I’m always interested to hear what people think about it – their likes, dislikes and favorite posts.  What’s interesting is the different messages people take from the same blog.  It’s a great example of perspective and how it influences your interaction and learning.

For example, my three most recent blog posts were The Most Important Rule of Connecting, Social Media Abandonment and Big Lessons from a Mini Contest.  If you read them, on the surface they were about social networking, social media and marketing/contests respectively.

Depending on your perspective, you may have read those posts and taken away different messages.  Hopefully a small business owner read those posts and tried to apply the information to his/her business.  Hopefully a job seeker read those posts and applied the lessons to his/her job search.  Someone in marketing hopefully took away different points too.

I’m not sure that enough people read and learn with perspective.  As I review the analytics of my previous posts, the ones with the most views and comments tend to be the ones that are the most universal – at least on the surface.  I suppose in today’s world where we must compete for limited attention spans and available time, that’s natural and not very surprising.

As an author of a blog with weekly content, I have to decide how to properly craft both the content and the headline.  There’s a line between being so specific that you limit your potential audience, versus being so broad that you mislead your potential audience.  There’s a line between wanting to grow your blog readership “organically” versus sensationalism.

The most “popular” blog of my previous three was The Most Important Rule of Connecting.  It drew almost 4x more than the others, despite similar promotion.  Perhaps it’s because there’s somewhat of a universal application to most readers, whether it’s connecting for business or for personal reasons.  Perhaps, people didn’t have to read that post using their “perspective glasses” compared to the others.

So how about you?  Now that I’ve drawn your attention to reading with perspective, what new things have you learned from my previous posts?  Is there one post in particular you learned the most from?  Is there a particular topic you’d like to see me cover in a future post?  As always, thank you for reading!

How Well Do You Know Your Customer?

If I had $1 for every business owner who thought he/she knew their customers very well, I’d be wealthy and retired at this point.  The sad reality is, most businesses think they know their customer, but their perception is almost always inaccurate (and sometimes by quite a bit).

I once worked with an established retail business in Rochester, NY that sold men’s fine clothing.  They were convinced their clientele were, on average, “male, 50 years or older, from the eastern suburbs, wealthy and watched prestigious networks on television like CNN.”  While that seemed plausible, I still conducted market research analysis with two main goals.  The first was to verify their customers’ demographics and the second was to research the media consumption of the actual demographic.

When the data was tabulated, it showed their customer base to be much younger and less affluent than they thought.  As a result, different television networks were a better fit.  Imagine their shock when I demonstrated how their advertising would be more effective (and cost-effective) on MTV instead of CNN!

Since seeing is not always believing, the client wanted to stick with the media plan involving CNN.  I was able to convince them to incorporate MTV into the plan as a trial, and suggested they simply ask customers if and where they saw their television commercial and keep a manual tabulation next to the cash register.  At the end of one month, MTV had a 3x advantage over CNN.

Seeing that MTV was significantly less expensive than CNN at the time, by concentrating on the proper network for their customer base, they could cut their ad spend, double their advertising frequency and triple (at minimum) their impact.  Now that’s what I call bang for the advertiser’s buck!

If you own a business, how well do you think you know your customer? If you haven’t conducted market research recently, I’d suggest there are many things you could learn.

Klout Responds

In a previous post, I called-out Klout for having a lack of transparency with their formula for measuring digital influence.  I had several questions for Klout, which were asked in another blog’s comment section (that blog featured a Q&A with a Klout executive) as well as two emails sent through their website.  Frustrated by a lack of response, I took my concerns public by posting my own blog post on the subject.  In that post, I did promise that I’d share their response if there was one . . .

On October 22, 2010, I had sent them a message asking 9 specific questions about how Klout accesses your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, how it accounts for your privacy settings, your connections’ privacy settings, and some of the additional features on those sites (groups, Q&A, likes, etc., some of which might also be private).

A response arrived a mere 75 days later (that’s only 10 weeks and 5 days) with an apology for the delay and this simplified answer: 

LinkedIn: Klout recognizes the total absolute number of LinkedIn connections that you have and the likes and comments on status updates. We do not recognized LinkedIn events or groups at this time but we will continue to build out our algorithms to encompass all the interactions on a network.

Facebook: Yes, if your Facebook is private and you have authorized Klout, then we will take into account the interactions you have with your friends even if you change your privacy settings to make certain content available to only certain users.

While I didn’t expect them to answer with great detail, I was pleasantly surprised the response went further than a simple “check our FAQ page” (although they did suggest that).  I was certainly disappointed it took so long for Klout to respond. 

Has it changed my opinion of Klout?  Not really.  I still believe it’s a good, initial “line in the sand” for measuring social media influence; it’s not perfect, but it’s a start.  I still feel Klout projects some level of arrogance when it comes to interacting with users.  Would you find a 75 day delay acceptable when interacting with a company, especially one involved with digital and social media?

What’s been your experience to date with Klout?  Has your opinion changed positively or negatively the more you’ve used it?

Pathways to Entrepreneurial Success 2012

This week I’ll be delivering two presentations at Pathways to Entrepreneurial Success 2012.  It’s the third installment of this annual event in the Rochester, NY area.  Pathways is a great forum that connects entrepreneurs (and those who are curious about starting their own business) with local business owners, mentors, educators and community resources.

I had the pleasure of being involved with the first Pathways in 2009, helping to promote the event as well as conducting attendee satisfaction research.  My research helped provide some ideas to the founders of the event for improving it in subsequent years.

For the 2010 Pathways event, I participated on the marketing and social media committees as the forum expanded and improved in its second year.

With the 2012 forum, I’m honored to have been asked to deliver two presentations on social media basics for business:  Getting Your Business Started With Twitter, and Getting Your Businesss Started With Blogging. 

I’m happy to share these brief presentations with you below, although you’ll get the most value from them by attending the event on January 18, 2012.  🙂  If you have any questions about the information presented, please do not hesitate to leave a comment on this blog or contact me directly.

Getting Your Business Started With Twitter

Getting Your Business Started With Blogging

Hey Klout! I’m Kalling You Out!

If you’re into social media, you’re likely familiar with Klout.  Klout attempts to measure social influence online by analyzing True Reach (number of people you influence), Amplification (how much you influence these people), and Network Impact (the influence of your network).  Using an algorithm, their analysis assigns a score of 1 to 100, giving you the ability to compare your social influence to others.  You can also see topical areas of influence.

Having worked in market research for many years, I find their behind-the-scenes metrics and analysis fascinating.  In a way, it’s a great combination of what I enjoy professionally:  marketing + market research + data analysis + social media.  That’s why I love Klout (the occasional perks don’t hurt either!).

Recently, Klout changed their algorithm in an effort to more accurately reflect true reach.  Most people saw their Klout score drop (some significantly so).  Mine dropped, but that’s not my problem with Klout.  If you’re doing social media correctly, a Klout score shouldn’t be of much importance to most people.

While I’m not privy to their algorithm, I believe there may be a big flaw in their analysis.  LinkedIn is a major component of most people’s social media usage.  Yet, to what extent does it analyze your LinkedIn profile?  Specifically:

  1. Does Klout recognize the actual number of connections that I have, or does it just see “500+”?  There’s a big difference between having a network of 500 and having a network of 1,200!
  2. Does Klout recognize the groups I belong to and/or manage, and the frequency with which I interact in those groups?  Is it all groups (and subgroups), or just open/public groups?  Is it only groups that are displayed on my profile or all groups?
  3. Does Klout recognize Q&A interaction?
  4. Does Klout recognize interactions with comments and “likes” on updates with connections?
  5. Does Klout consider events I’ve created and the interest/attendance level indicated as well as comments and views?
I have similar questions with how Klout interacts with Facebook, given your privacy settings and those of your connections too.  Twitter is pretty open, so that seems more straight-forward.  I’m not so much concerned with what my score is, or how it’s trending.  But as someone with a 20-year career in market research, I am concerned with the accuracy of what they’re measuring.
 
While I don’t expect Klout to fully disclose their secret formula, depending on how they analyze LinkedIn and Facebook, all 3 components that comprise their Klout Score would be impacted.  I’ve asked them, both through a public blog comment and more than one email.  I’ll share their response if I hear from them.  Sadly, I must not have enough Klout because I’ve been waiting for nearly a month to receive an answer.  Perhaps that will be a future Perk they’ll offer.  😉 
 
Besides a lack of transparency, that’s not the best customer service experience.  So what are your thoughts on Klout?  Do you find their lack of transparency frustrating?