Klout is beginning to matter more and more.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that  a couple of weeks (maybe months) I did a post on Klout, what it is and how it works.  Sometimes social networks start up with a bang and then fizzle, the novelty wears off – fans and followers move on and there’s something new to replace it.  In the weeks since I posted that story, I’ve been reading much more about Klout.  It appears that the concept of a person’s social score is becoming a measure by which you will be assessed, even judged.

Our personal value now has a number.  I’m now seeing job ads and RFPs with vendor criteria that include  “must have an online presence” as a requirement.  And,  this doesn’t mean that you have a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts that you haven’t been to in months.   What recruiters, HR departments, hiring managers and procurement managers want to know is how active are you, and more importantly how much reach and influence you have online?  In this hyper-connected world, the many degrees of separation that existed in the old analog world are now diminishing, who you know and who you are connected to is becoming increasingly key for business to increase their networks as well.

This recent story in Forbes magazines tells what can happen at a senior level,  when you are not current, http://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2012/05/02/have-you-got-klout/. The world of work give us pause for thought, new roles,  new ways of working and new ways to be measured.  There are different questions to answer, ones which employers and hiring parties have yet to fully figure out, whether it’s asking you for your Facebook password, or checking your Klout, Kred or PeerIndex score, the world of work now has new rules.

What do you think?  Are you on Klout, do you feel it has merit and should people’s online presence or value be measured this way?


What are telltale signs that you’re working at a “sinking ship” company?

In these fragile economic times, uncertainty and anxiety are themes that many of us have experience daily in the workplace.  I have been following this question and am sharing it.  Many insightful and some humourous (but true) observations and comments.  Enjoy!

What are telltale signs that you’re working at a “sinking ship” company? 35 answers on Quora

What are telltale signs that you’re working at a “sinking ship” company?

It’s all about Klout

Over the past year measuring your social “score” has created a lot of buzz and controversy.  Sites like PeerIndex, KRED, and Klout and a number of others have come up with ways to measure your online influence .   Understanding if my online content is interesting, helpful, shared, driving people to action,  is valuable information.  If you’ve Tweeted, posted on Facebook, used LinkedIn and blog, as more than just a way to keep in touch with friends, understanding your reach and the engagement level of those in your network is of key importance.

About six weeks ago, after hearing a lot about Klout I signed up.  I was certainly interested in finding out how I measured up as a social influencer, was my content, my online presence credible and valuable to those who follow me, read my blog and are part of my network?  Here is how it works; you connect your social sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Blogger, etc… to Klout and your influence is measured with an algorithm that uses the following three factors:

1. Your true reach – the number of people you influence. this means your connections and your connections’ connections and networks.

2. Your amplification – how much you influence people, how likely are the people in your audience will respond to your content and what you do online, i.e. do they re-tweet, like.

3. Network impact – the influence of your audience, do you interact with highly influencial people in your network, i.e. thought leaders, experts?

Based on your number of followers, network size and activity, Klout determines an individual score for the three factors and then an aggregated score for all three. The range of scores is between 1 to 100.  Klout states that the an average score is 20. When I initially started using Klout my score was 15 based on my activity on Facebook alone.  After monitoring my score for a few days, it dropped to 11!  Was I losing influence?  Indeed I was.

Understanding and maintaining your score takes work and conscious effort to keep track of the content you’ve been posting and it’s impact, have I been re-tweeted, are people commenting on my blog – with this score, it was clear that they weren’t doing so enough for me to be considered influencial.  So, I added Twitter, LinkedIn and a number of other social sites that Klout can connect with and within thirty days, my score increased to 35 – I was above average now, and feeling good!

As with all social media sites, Klout has not been without controversy.   What garnered the most attention was Klout’s tweaking it’s scoring algorithm in October 2011, resulting in a dramatic drop to scores.  This caused much noise in celebrity and social media VIP circles.  Fascinating how a score caused a flurry of blogs complaining about Klout’s algorithm and a number of questions posted to Quora on the matter – which by the way were answered by Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout.

The whole concept of self vis-a-vis a score is a very personal thing, like one’s GPA or what you scored on the SAT, or your golf score for that matter.  Your identity and personal value are tied around the score and so when it changes, as it has for many celebrities and  folks who felt they were influential in their domain, it’s like a math teacher revising your test score and telling you, you failed when you previously passed, not an easy pill to swallow.

The next area of concern is that of Klout’s business model and gamification.  Social metrics are everything these days.  As of May 2011, two-thousand companies had purchased Klout data.  From this data, companies can find influencers with high scores to  approach and get them to promote and spread the message about their brand broadly, rapidly and freely to their vast networks.   The Klout Perks program is exactly this.  In an AdWeek article, the perks program is described as an opportunity –

that pairs high-scoring Twitter users with brands they’re likely to care about.  Starbucks, Audi, Virgin America, Danone, CoverGirl, and Dove have offered free products or experience to tweeters identified by Klout for their interest in the topic, their geography, and of course their influence.  They’re not required to tweet about it, but odds are, they will.

The time for deep social metrics is ripe.  While for now, it seems like a novelty and the gaming aspect of getting recognition and a perk for a high score has some appeal, Joe Fernandez says he wants to turn Klout into a tool that is “helping people get jobs, helping them get better customer service” and “leverage their influence”.

Since its launch, there have been a lot of interesting stories, true or not, of how people are using their Klout scores.  Rumours about Klout scores showing up on resumes, on people’s profiles and companies using them as a screening tools.  While these are probably for the most part not true, you can see where a social score could go.

While becoming a high level influencer, like getting the high score on my favourite video game is certainly something that in the back of my mind I quietly aspire to, for now watching, improving and measuring from the sidelines how my simple content, comments and ideas influence others is enough to keep me busy for a while.

Will you find out how much Klout you have?

Re-energized and back in 2012!

I haven’t had time to plan returning to the scene because I haven’t left it.       – Mick Jagger

To my loyal followers….  

After being on a blogging hiatus for a couple of months now, I’ll be back in January with fresh new content at www.amillionconversations.com and  the Daily Digital – http://charmaine2004.tumblr.com

I’ve been paying attention and have lots to say on what’s been going on in social media.

See you in January 2012.

Hey you, get off my cloud!

For several months now everyone has seen the Microsoft commercials and heard the tag line “to the cloud”.  The commercials show people using different Windows Live applications to edit photos and movies, access and share documents, and remotely program their  televisions to record their favorite shows.  The message is that with Windows Live, you can get access to and share “your stuff” from anywhere,  as long as you have a computer and an internet connection.  This is true, but what is  this “cloud” thing?  If you work in IT, you know what cloud is, but if you don’t it’s confusing, so let me explain a little about the cloud.

Not so long ago people went to the store and bought software that came in a box with a couple of disks or lately, a CD that you would load into your computer.  When a new version of the software was released, you would have to go back to the store and buy  the upgrade and load that on your computer.  Pretty soon, you had lots of disks and CDs all over your home office with different and mostly outdated versions of software.  Then came software as a service (SaaS), now, if you want software you go to a website  and download it right to your computer, when upgrades come around you will usually get a message that asks if you’d like to buy upgrade.  There are also sites like Flickr where you upload your photos, GoogleDocs where you can save, edit and share your documents, the software used, the pictures and documents that you save on these sites are all stored in the cloud.  Windows Live is a software service that provides all these features too.

So what exactly is the cloud? Well first, it’s really called “cloud computing” and  Wikipedia explains it as” Internet-based computing, whereby shared services, resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like electricity”.  This eliminates the need to load software, save pictures, documents, etc., on your computer’s hard drive.  The cloud is actually a cluster of servers that are owned by a company that provides hosting services – these clusters of computers are known as “server farms” or data centers.  The term cloud actually refers to how IT modeling diagrams have depicted the internet for many years, like this:

Server farms or data centers are large temperature controlled buildings which house hundreds of servers, they are in many places in the U.S. and around the world where information and data, including yours, is stored.  If you have a Gmail, Facebook or many other accounts, your data and the data of thousands of other people is stored on servers down on the farm.   The ability to log into to your Gmail, Facebook, Windows Live and many, many other accounts and get access your stuff anywhere, anytime in the world is because of the cloud, the server farm, the data center.  Okay, so that’s all very cool, you say, I don’t have to worry about it taking up space on my hard drive.  Yes, that true, but here’s a few things you should be aware of and consider.

As your information is not stored on your hard drive, you to some extent don’t “own” the data which does pose some risks. Security breeches are probably the most risky aspect of having your information stored in the cloud.  Before you commit to saving your all your pictures, documents and other information you need to be aware that your information could get hacked or infected with viruses.  It’s a good idea not to store or put things like financial records, banking information, confidential or highly private information on the cloud or anything of a personal nature that you wouldn’t want anyone to potentially gain access to.  Another issue is, if the service is down or experiencing an outage, you won’t be able to use that document or the information you have stored there. 

While these are important to think about, there are some benefits to storing information in the cloud.  Services like GoogleDocs, Windows Live, etc., automatically backup files every couple of seconds so users don’t have to worry about saving current versions or losing a document as a result of a crash.  Also, you never have to email a document to yourself  because you simply have to log into the service and access all your documents, photos, etc., so carrying around a flash drive may be something you can give up but I would still suggest you have your own backup copy.

So there’s the explanation of what cloud is, it’s not really soft and fuzzy is it?   The cloud enables ubiquity which equals convenience which is all good.  Clearly, Microsoft business model has had to change,  the days boxed software and upgrades will soon be gone, storage is cheap and easy now and anywhere, any time access is what people want.  Much like the reference to how electricity is sold, some day, perhaps not too far into the future this model will need to monetized beyond just the price of the download and while storage of your information is now free, as with the mobile fees for service and storage will be a reality.

What do you think?  What did you think the cloud was?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Drop me a line. 





The New Journalism 2.0

I was going to do a post strictly about Twitter, what it was, what it’s become, how it’s evolved.  So I’ve spent the past several weeks since my last post, talking to a lot of people about Twitter and their use of Twitter.  While I love talking to people about social media, it was frustrating for me to hear people say they “have no use” for Twitter or any social platform and no plans to use any of them.  And you know,  there  is no shortage of people, especially boomers who told me this.  So I decided I wasn’t going to try to write  a compelling argument on the value of Twitter, if you still only see Twitter and other social platforms as fads and places your kids go and not for the game changers they are, a five or six hundred word blog post isn’t necessarily going to change your mind. 

What’s more interesting to me is that with each world event that has happened in the past three years, or will happen in the future, Twitter has had and will have a significant role. So,  eventually, there will be no decision to be part of it or not, because there will be no choice and no room for passive Twitter resistance.

The recent situation in Egypt really got me thinking about the influence Twitter has had on accelerating events and giving rise to what some call “new journalism” or for me, “gonzo journalism’.  It’s not really a new concept, as the term “new journalism” was coined in the 60’s and came to the fore in the 70’s with writers like Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Norman Mailer, Robert Christgau, Hunter S. Thompson, etc. 

Curtis D. MacDougal’s preface to his 1972, “Interpretative Reporting” describes the new journalism as,

Activist, advocacy, participatory, tell-it-as-you-see-it, sensitivity, investigative, saturation, humanistic, reformist and a few more.

As a journalism student in the 70’s, I discovered Hunter S. Thompson and relentlessly read every book he’d written  with enormous fascination and wonder.  How much of his writing was  fact or  how much was fiction, how could anyone chew up a handful of blotter acid and function as a journalist?   In retrospect, it doesn’t matter because beyond the surreal dimension that  drugs gave Hunter S. Thompson’s writing,  it was about being part of the experience, not just objectively reporting the facts, not just observing what’s going on, but truly being immersed in the situation and reporting from that perspective. 

In the Web 2.0 world the ability to tune in, interact, take part and advocate for issues and events that are personally meaningful is unprecedented.  The voices, the reporting  from people and communities with whom we’d only understood through the distant lenses of traditional media channels no longer limits our experience to a single view of a story.

Twitter enables new journalism to exist in the mainstream.  Tweets during the developing situation in Egypt are vignettes of the bigger story.  Together a people and the world write a new chapter for the history book.  A  collaboration between the real world and an eager virtual community that are closely following and participating in creating a platform for change, evolution and revolution.