Authenticity in Social Media

I intentionally try to avoid traditionally controversial subjects in my blog such as politics and religion to name a few.  I have other things I’d rather write about and want to keep my blog on more of a professional level than personal level.  I’d also rather not add fuel to the fire of a rumor.  So, it’s with some hesitation that I write this post.

I read an article on The Hill about Mitt Romney’s Twitter account that I thought was rather interesting.  Presidential candidates seemingly have everything scrutinized with a magnifying glass these days.  Someone noticed that Romney’s account, which had been averaging 3,000-4,000 new followers daily had suddenly picked up almost 100,000 followers in a two-day period.  And, this increase occurred without any significant change in his engagement with followers.  Immediately the speculation was that his campaign was buying Twitter followers.

This certainly is not very newsworthy, especially since it’s speculation at this point.  But fact or fiction, it is a great example of the importance that authenticity plays in social media.  In a previous post that still generates weekly views, I offered 3 reasons why quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media.

The number one reason I listed in that post is that when fans/followers can be bought, your authenticity comes into question.  Whether it’s a politician or a consumer brand, most people won’t tolerate a fake.  Engagement cannot happen with fans/followers who do not have a true interest, let alone may not exist in the first place.

Don’t just take my word for it.  A recent research study from About.com demonstrated that activity (i.e., engagement) on a Facebook page was a better indicator of trust than the number of “likes” a page had.  In fact, 84% said that being trustworthy is a requirement before interacting with a page or info source.

Again, fact or fiction, here’s a current reminder why quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media.  What are your thoughts when it comes to authenticity in social media?

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Marketing Lessons From Johnny Bravo

Arthur Catalanello & Barry WilliamsThis past weekend I had the thrill of meeting a celebrity from my youth, Barry Williams.  You might know him by his character Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch, or even his alter ego Johnny Bravo.  He was in Rochester to participate in a local production and had a solo show, “Growing Up Brady.”

As someone who watched every episode (multiple times) of The Brady Bunch in my youth, it was personally exciting to meet him.  If you grew up in the 1970s, Greg Brady was someone who most guys wanted to be and most girls wanted to be with.

His local event was a lot of fun for fans of The Brady Bunch.  He shared stories about filming the series, spoke of his relationships with the cast and discussed the various spin-offs and specials that followed in subsequent years.  Additionally, he sang, showed rare home movies from behind the scenes, he taught audience members how to dance like a Brady, took questions from the audience and made time for a “meet and greet” after the event.

Barry Williams unintentionally taught the crowd a few marketing lessons that afternoon too:

  1. Play to your strengths.  While some cast members have tried to escape their Brady Bunch past to an extent, he’s seemingly embraced it.  He’s had a long acting career on stage, but he recognizes that he’ll always be primarily identified with Greg Brady.  Why not turn that into a strength and a positive?  He has.
  2. Identify your core values and messaging.  Barry was asked a few times why he thought the Brady Bunch has been as successful as it has.  His response was that the show identified the values and messaging it wanted to focus on, and it stuck to them throughout its run.  That was true of most of the spin-offs and specials.  The least successful of those were when they decided to have the characters tackle much darker and more serious issues.  When they seemingly abandoned their core values and messaging, viewers didn’t approve.
  3. Humbleness = Likeability.  It was apparent from his opening rap song, “The Real Greg Brady” (a parody rap song, sung to Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”) that Barry Williams has a great sense of humor and does not take himself too seriously.  He can laugh at his past – especially the bad dance moves shown in clips from the Brady Bunch Variety Hour.  Humor often wins people over and this was no exception.
  4. Honesty and transparency brings and strengthens loyalty.  Barry Williams was forthcoming with many details about The Brady Bunch and even incorporated a Question and Answer session into the show.  There were no polished, politically correct, canned responses that I could detect.  In marketing, honesty and transparency brings and strengthens loyalty.  I’m sure his fans left Saturday’s show with a stronger connection to him than before.
  5. Everyone wants to be “cool.”  People want to be cool and brands want to be seen as cool.  When asked to comment on the celebrity guest appearances on The Brady Bunch, he spoke of Don Drysdale, Joe Namath and Davy Jones.  You could see his excitement when he said that Joe Namath recognizes him to this day.  Even Johnny Bravo, “Mr. Cool” in Brady Bunch lore, looks up to someone.  🙂  Makes you wonder which brands the “cool brands” look up to.

Sometimes, marketing lessons come when you’re least expecting them.  Now that’s groovy!

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?