Monday, June 20, 2011

Some Thoughts On Influence and +K

In everything I learn and read, I try to find ways to relate to other things I have learned or read. I call this association of things "connecting the dots," and while the term in and of itself may not be totally original, the practice it seems is far less common.

"Woe is me!"

+K is like Respect. You have to earn it.

When new tools come out in the social media space or in technology in general I always try to connect the dots from the online world to the real world. What do we do offline that we're mirroring with this new technology? In the real world, we assign influence to a person based on a widely-varied number of factors. They may have an impressive education, or be smart, or know "important people" (why that is in quotes is another blog post), or be a great singer, or they may have built something unique or written something thought-provoking. Regardless of why a person is assigned the label of "influential," it is something that other people have given them and not something that they necessarily commanded in and of themselves (aside from Kanye). Their position as an influential is something that has developed over time, through focused thought and endless toil. It is also built on their frequency of accuracy. You don't see too many influential scientists who are wrong all the time. Or who disregard the scientific method. In this way, I guess, influence is like what some people say of respect. To get it, you have to earn it.

This brings me to Klout's latest release, +K. Disregarding the chicken/egg question with Google's +1 (which came first?) I have to admit I was initially both put off and intrigued by the idea of people ranking each other using such an arbitrary system. But I realized after a chat with @bryanjones (holla on Twitter if you haven't already) that no only is assigning influence to a person relative to the assigner, but so is the medium with which they choose to make it known. What matters is the weight the person viewing the recommendation assigns to both the recommendation and the medium.

How does this work in real life?

For example, it may not matter much at all if I +K my aunt's (a professor of neuropsychology) profile on Klout. 1) I'm not in the field of neuropsychology so my opinion matters little there and 2) members of the field of neuropsychology may assign little if any value to a +K 3) She would probably have low numbers anyway because she only uses LinkedIn, so what good would my +K on any topic really do here?

 But let's say her field as a whole regularly used social media, and my aunt as a member of this field did too. Then, it is likely that they would put great thought into rewarding +K to another, so then it means something. Or maybe a better, real life example is, if her dissertation were cited in a neurogeek journal as inspiring a new theory or form of research, then that would be the kind of influence that matters, since it means something to her, the person citing her and the reader.

You've got issues.

I guess that's where +K loses me. For starters, no one's agreed that Klout is the standard of influence for anything, social media in particular. Sure, it's great that they're working on an algorithm, and especially great that they now add LinkedIn networks into the equation, but if we assign no value to a Klout score in the first place, who cares about a more fleeting +K?  They're still a for-profit company with active competitors like PeerIndex and Twitalyzer. They still have to find a way to make money from the data we give them with each +K. What will this turn into?

Also, don't we need a standard by which to measure? Especially if +K's are to be "social currency" (different than social capital? Yes. Way cheaper.) what value can we assign if there's no standard to hold them up against? Even the dollar had the gold standard at one point. Will we get to a point where we measure social net worth?

There's also the point of gaming the system. One of the comments on this post refers to "social media optimization" (what we at @bizzibiz also call it btw) and alludes to this opening the door to the potential for "black hat" practices on social media sites. I've already heard of people verbally asking for a +K. In and of itself that may not be a bad thing but if we are eventually using Klout to measure influence (I'm optimistic and hope they'll fix some of their more leering issues), how are we to know which +K's are authentic and which are bartered for something else, like a linkback? If I'm currently influential in soccer and food, what's to stop me from DMing a few of my tweeps to get a enough +K's to livetweet from the Gold Cup?

Despite my misgivens, I'm going to be toying with the +K feature this week, but don't worry, I'm being picky.
Oh and on an unrelated note: Check out this video!

Digital Life: Today & Tomorrow from Neo Labels on Vimeo.

Spiff over and out.

Have you used the +K feature of Klout? What influences you? (either IRL or online)
Share below!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Holy Move Spaceman! (A post 3 months in the making)

So wow, there is sooooo much to tell you all! If you follow me on Twitter, you're probably aware that I just made a two day road trip with a couple other guys from Ohio to my new home, Scottsdale, AZ.
Goodbye Ada! ROAD TRIP!! Lol w/ @TobyDeardorff and @blburkholder. There's prolly >12 hrs of sleep between us, but we're slap happy lolSun Feb 27 11:58:14 via √úberSocial

A few of you know why, but like most things of this nature, I had to keep the news on ice for a bit until all of the details were worked out. But now they are, so here's the story. You won't hurt my feelings if you'd rather not read this lol.

K sweet, so for the past year or so I've been working with a great group of guys at a startup called BounceFire. It was started by my buddy Zach Ferres while he was still at ONU studying and stuff. There's a blog post out there somewhere that tells the whole story of how the company was founded, our rebranding from BounceHost etc. I'll find it eventually. So anyway, I was on board as the social media strategist for clients, and while here I've also worked on email marketing, a ton of copy writing, and internal communications for BounceFire. It's really been a blast, mostly because I always heard professionals at PRSSA conferences in session say that PR is an executive function and we need/recently gained a "seat at the table," and my first real job experience is working directly with the company's president. What's also dope is that Zach and the other guys are really open to my ideas and committed to making sure we provide not just great websites, but great marketing strategy that supports that site. I'm all about that kind of holistic approach.

So we niched to SEO, Internet marketing and website development. We did well, kept our clients happy and worked to graduate so we could see what kind of company we could build together. While we were doing all this Zach entered an entrepreneurship competition (GSEA) and went pretty far which was great. While at the first competition here in Scottsdale he met Jim Piccolo. Jim is a serious entrepreneur, and at that time (like last September I think?) he was fleshing out his idea for a new company that would franchise businesses. It must have been love at first sight or something because Jim really liked the BounceFire business model and more than that, the culture. Zach is all about Agile web development (ask him about it but get comfortable, because you'll be there for a while) but also likes a relaxed company culture. We were all pretty much working remotely and rockin it out, using Skype, although over the summer I was in Dublin in our office at the DEC quite a bit.

So initially we were just working with Jim's company BizziBiz on some stuff but we've recently been acquired under BizziBiz to do product fulfillment for the whole company. So that's what I'm doing out here; building social media and email marketing strategies for small businesses, similar (well pretty much the same) as I was doing at BounceFire, just on a much more intense scale lol. I'm stoked about this new chapter of life though, and I'm really looking forward to getting used to the weather down here. (no more #snohio!) My plan is to be back up and blogging regularly (thinking 2-3 posts a week but we'll start slow lol).

There's a ton of things I want to do out here a lot of growing I have yet to do and I'm really excited for the future.

Oh and also, our thing at BizziBiz is being the "superhero" for businesses, which means all of our email addresses are some superhero at bizzibiz dot com. I chose Spaceman Spiff, from Calvin & Hobbes. Mostly because he has some cool adventures and he's the imaginary escape for a kid just trying to find a way to deal with his world. Spiff is essentially a creation of necessity, to help Calvin cope with sucky classes (kindergarten is hard yo) and the bad food his mom cooks. But for me, Spiff is all about imagination and tackling what you don't want to do using your own creativity. I love that. So that's the dude I picked. Plus he's got some cool sayings like "The creature is a GURL!" and "1, 2, 3...LIGHTSPEED!" haha Expect me to drop some of those in from time to time. It's kinda corny but it's growing on me lol

So for now, this is where I live. Scottsdale, Arizona. It's going to be a heckuva ride.

HERE!!!! The drive to end all drives is OVER!! Cc @TobyDeardorff @blburkholderTue Mar 01 04:57:49 via √úberSocial