Klout gets better for users, worse for marketers?

Klout has rolled out updates to its service, including adjustments to individuals scores for increased accuracy, more transparency and a new site design.

The most significant change and one that caught my eye was the introduction of “Moments”, Klout’s new feature claiming to give greater insights into your influence online.

Moments appears to be a new feature that is set to highlight the reasons behind the shift in your Klout score, making the service more transparent. However the introduction of this new feature has come at the cost of the three previous measures – True Reach, Amplification and Network Impact.

From a digital marketer’s perspective, simply taking a user’s Klout score at face value was never enough. Marketers need to be able to understand why a user has a high score, in order to ensure certain objectives are being met.

For example, those looking to spread content virally may look at users with a high Amplification probability. Looking to change public perception, you may look at targeting users with a high True Reach or Network Impact.

There is a big difference in people sharing your content or responding to it. Dependent on the type of content you are trying to push, be that perhaps a video or marketing message, exactly who you are targeting needs to be precisely tailored to suit your campaign.

True Reach, Amplification and Network Impact were three brief scores that made up a small but important part of the algorithm I personally use to build up a list of who I believe are the most important people to target undergoing a campaign.

I’m worried that Klout are playing too much on individuals’ narcissistic emotions rather than concentrating on delivering an accurate, worthwhile service that delivers a true benefit to the world. Otherwise they may as well just go back to developing computer games. They’re probably more lucrative anyway…

However, every cloud does have a silver lining. The introduction of Wikipedia pages as a measure of influence has brought @JustinBieber down from his perfect Klout score of 100 to 92, whilst boosting @BarackObama to 99, taking into account his real world influence.

More details on how the influence from each individual network is calculated can be found here: http://klout.com/corp/kscore/

Why every digital communications professional must understand internet culture

Keeping up to date with the news is standard practice for any PR practitioner. Without keeping up with key trends and events, changes in the news and communications channels, you stand a good chance of missing key opportunities and being caught unawares.

But for those in charge of any brand’s social media presence or online brand, keeping up to date with digital trends and internet culture is an absolute must.

Kit Kat recently announced the launch of their new Instagram account with a seemingly innocent image of a bear playing the drums with a Kit Kat Chunky in each hand. Now whilst this was obviously thought of to be a fun image with the potential to go viral in a good way, the internet soon picked up on the bear’s stark resemblance to the Paedo Bear, an internet meme originating from 4Chan in 2004, immortalised through numerous doctored images across the web.

KitKat Instagram Picture

Had anyone at Nestlé, their marketing team or hired agency been a little more up to date on their online culture, someone may have picked up on this. However, the team at Kit Kat had of course never heard of Paedo Bear, were forced to withtract the image and issue a public statement verifying as such.

Another recent social media faux pax comes courtesy of Celeb Botique with the following recent tweet. Shockingly, the individual in charge of running the Twitter account had failed to check the reason for the trend, missing the news of the horrific shooting at the Batman screening in Aurora, Colorado. Aurora issued a public apology, shamefully shifting the blame to their external PR department and failing to take any kind of responsibility for their actions.

What is disparaging is the sheer amount of times we see this happening over and over again.

Much like any seasoned PR practitioner should be able to immediately spot any potential negativity surrounding a news story, so too must any social media brand manager be fully aware of both news and internet culture, at the very least putting in the research to discover why something is trending.

Similar offline cases have appeared long before social media became a widely used communications channel, even before the internet. The difference now being that with things travelling so much faster, anyone representing a brand’s entire reputation on a social media channel stands the risk of destroying that reputation in the blink of an eye.

Having a strong grasp on news, current affairs, memes and internet culture is paramount to successful brand protection and communication online. You’ll find the best digital communications agencies are probably the ones sharing animated gifs, memes and stories before you find them appearing in your news feed on Facebook and they’re the ones you should probably consider when looking to hire a digital agency!

The real value of Twitter

Finally getting round to watching Page One: Inside the New York Times, a great documentary following the New York Times as it faces the digital transformation of the media industry, there was a great quote to be highlighted on the real value of twitter.

David Carr, media columnist at the NYT, and a previous Twitter sceptic, had this to say:

 

“I succumbed partly out of professional necessity.

“Now, nearly a year later, has Twitter turned by brain into mush? No.

“I have a narrative on more things in any given moment than I ever thought possible.

“I get a sense of todays news and how people are reacting to it in the time it takes to wait for a coffee at Starbucks.

“Nearly year in I’ve come to understand that the real value of this circus is listening to a wired collective voice.

“The medium is not the message. The messages are the media.”

List of Twitter Search Operators

Unstructured data leads to a poor user experience, and as soon as you start following more than 100 people, Twitter can be at time completely overwhelming…

Here, from Twitter’s help section, are a complete list of Twitter search operators, perfect for conducting more comprehensive searches on the microblogging platform, but also really great for setting up more advanced custom search columns on Tweetdeck and other social management apps. Get your search columns set up properly, and it will make your experience on Twitter so much better…

Operator Finds tweets…
twitter search containing both “twitter” and “search”. This is the default operator.
“happy hour” containing the exact phrase “happy hour”.
love OR hate containing either “love” or “hate” (or both).
beer -root containing “beer” but not “root”.
#haiku containing the hashtag “haiku”.
from:alexiskold sent from person “alexiskold”.
to:techcrunch sent to person “techcrunch”.
@mashable referencing person “mashable”.
“happy hour” near:”san francisco” containing the exact phrase “happy hour” and sent near “san francisco”.
near:NYC within:15mi sent within 15 miles of “NYC”.
superhero since:2010-12-27 containing “superhero” and sent since date “2010-12-27” (year-month-day).
ftw until:2010-12-27 containing “ftw” and sent up to date “2010-12-27”.
movie -scary :) containing “movie”, but not “scary”, and with a positive attitude.
flight :( containing “flight” and with a negative attitude.
traffic ? containing “traffic” and asking a question.
hilarious filter:links containing “hilarious” and linking to URLs.
news source:twitterfeed containing “news” and entered via TwitterFeed

Google integrates Wimbledon’s Google+ page into SERPs. Brands to follow?

Google has continued to enhance its search pages with additional content, most recently enhancing it’s first page for Wimbledon related searches. Currently, searching “Wimbledon” pulls up a vast screen of maps, scores, match details, reviews and other information.

Wimbledon Search Results on Google

For some time now, Google has been embedding clever tricks into its search pages, such as local cinema listings, world news, sport scores, recipes and more, but what’s most interesting about Wimbledon related searches this time round is that in the bottom right, Google has integrated content from the Wimbledon official Google+ page.

With Google placing such a significant effort on increasing their stake in the social web, could this be the first step in embedding Google+ page results when users search for brands?

As I wrote last week, with Google already closing the doors on Google Pages, migrating all location results to Google+ Local, the search giant is already forcing brands to exist on the social network. But the embedding of data into the right hand side of the page, rather than the search results, might just be the tipping point for brands to choose to invest a great deal more time and energy in developing their pages and driving their audience to engage with the brand on Google+.

Not another Buzz

Google+ should not be mistaken as another Google Buzz, a social networking, microblogging and messaging tool left to die by Google at the end of last year. Google has invested huge ammounts of time, energy and money into ensuring the success of Google+, including directly linking the annual bonuses of over 25% of Google employees to the success or failure of their social products.

Whilst questions continue to arise around the user engagement levels on Google+, it remains true that Google are not letting up on trying to capture the social web for themselves.

Google+ Local replaces Google Places – Businesses forced to engage

Earlier this month, Google officially closed the doors on Google Places, replacing it with Google+ Local, bringing all local search results and business location pages into Google+, forcing brands to engage with the social network.

Over 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into Google+ Local pages, with the goal of merging all business listings into one single entity used across the Google product network, including maps, search, social and mobile.

The launch is a significant step in Google’s crusade to reshape the web, intertwining all of their products under the Google+ umbrella, creating a much more social web.

Google+ has been relatively overshadowed by Facebook’s IPO in the media recently, and with reports of Google+ usage slipping becoming commonplace, the public perception of the search giant’s social network has not been the strongest.

However, the company’s social media strategy remains a key focus for Google’s CEO Larry Page, who little over a week into taking over the reins back in November 2011, took the move to directly link the annual bonuses of over 25 per cent of Google employees to the success or failure of their social products.

Making locations social

Google+ Local is a very social product in itself, influencing a user’s search results by taking into account the places the user’s contacts, friends, family members and colleagues have visited and reviewed.

Users will also be able to share opinions and upload photos. These reviews and photos will help the user’s friends when they’re checking out a place online, and are also integrated into the aggregate score that other people see around the world. No longer tucked away deep in the Google Maps listings, reviews are now brought to the user in a single platform.

With many brands already having a presence on Google+, the next phase will be to integrate the brand’s Google+ Local listings and reviews with the Google+ brand page, creating a single experience for the user, and a single Google listing for the brand that will exist across the majority of Google products.

Google Jen Fitzpatrick, VP Engineering at Google announced in a blog post on Wednesday that Google will “soon extend these social experiences to more local Google+ pages in the weeks and months ahead”, but provided several examples of how this will look for brands in the near future.

Online reviews have had a significant effect on consumer behaviour in the past few years, particularly for businesses like restaurants, shops and brands with retail presences. With Google+, rather than reviews being ‘siloed’ on separate forums or review sites, they’re now centralised around the brand’s primary listing on Google, which will inevitably be seen by a much larger group of consumers.

Social and search

It’s worth noting that the tie in with Google products will not just affect reviews and brand pages, but in the near future the places your friends visit are likely to influence a user’s search rankings too. Therefore businesses not looking to maximise their Google+ presence stand to lose out to local competitors with a stronger focus on the platform, both in terms of online traffic and in-store footfall.

Without a strong branded presence on Google+, businesses stand the risk of their brand message being overshadowed by reviews and customer comments, which if negative is certainly not a good thing. Without a branded presence on Google+, business listings will exist at the mercy of the reviewer.

This overlap of Google products will undoubtedly twist the arms of businesses in the near future, forcing them to engage with Google+ in order to continue to perform well across the search platform. Do not bet on Google+ failing to become a significant online marketing pillar for businesses in the next few years.

 

Twantrum raises bigger questions on reputation management

Consumer Complaints on Twitter - Twantrum

A simple site that monitors consumers bad mouthing brands on Twitter has recently launched, courtesy of three Australians, James Aviaz, Julian cole and Ryhs Edwards. Simplistic in its design, Twantrum uses Twitter’s API real time search to pull out mentions of consumer brands with anger-related keywords, and displays them for all to see.

Twantrum ranks the consumer ranting in four categories dependent mostly on the profanity used by the person complaining. These go from mild, to restrained, to angry, to Mel Gibson, which tend to feature all caps, a huge amount of profanity and a whole lot of anger.

Whilst Twantrum is for now just a bit of fun, it also highlights the very serious need for brands to be monitoring what people are saying about them on social channels, and to proactively engage with them.

The importance of reputation management

Research from the London School of Economics found that a 2 per cent reduction in negative word of mouth will directly boost sales growth by 1 per cent. Whilst this may not sound like much, dependent on the size of the company, 1 per cent can represent a huge amount of money.

Equally, Dell’s own research found that the average detractor costs the company $57, whilst the average promoter generates only $37.

Social media has enabled customers to discuss brands with a much wider audience, and the potential for a detractor to cause real financial damage is huge. Countless studies have highlighted that consumers trust the opinions of other consumers significantly more than marketing messages. Brands absolutely must be aware of who is talking about their brand online, of any complaints customers may have, and must proactively seek to create a positive shift in the mentions of their brand online.

Failure to do so is a risky mistake.

Strategy first. Social ROI will follow

Back in February of this year, research highlighted that 74% of CMOs predicted 2011 to finally be the year that social media efforts could be tied to a quantifiable return on investment (ROI). Yet, as we’re nearing the end of 2011, how social media marketing can be measured remains an often unanswered question.

We often have clients approach us with tainted views of social media marketing, with the opinion that it is immeasurable, that it cannot drive quantified sales leads and thus is a waste of their time.

However, more often than not what we eventually find is that their experience with social marketing has been nothing less than experiential, and lacked the solid foundations needed for the marketing campaign to succeed.

Social marketing pitfalls

The most important thing to do prior to implementing any marketing campaign is to first define your goal. Having a clear business objective is key to delivering a campaign that provides a measurable return on your investment.

Once the business objective is clear, consider how social media marketing can support this goal. Measuring the effectiveness is actually the easy part! One of the benefits of social media being digital is that, through the correct use of website analytics you can track back online sales to find what originally led the consumer through to the site in the first place.

Social media marketing is measurable and quantifiable – and both myself and the team at Receptional can help you realise just how social marketing can help meet those objectives of yours. But you absolutely must have a business goal in mind before you jump in.

Google+ and politics – Could hangouts replace Question Time and Party Political Broadcasts?

Following from the launch of Google+ pages, the search giant’s latest foray into social networking has gained another boost.

The President of the United States, Barack Obama has joined Google+.

Obama is on Google Plus

Actually, Obama’s presence is in fact a brand page run by his campaign team as appose to the President himself, but his arrival is no less prominent.

If the Obama election campaign of 2008 taught us anything, it was the power that social media marketing can have in an election campaign. Social media allows politicians to get in front of the demographics who wouldn’t necessarily watch the usual channels – question time, or party political broadcasts. We’re no doubt in a new age of communication, and politicians (much like brands) need to learn to adapt to reach their audience.

I thoroughly expect to see a great deal more social marketing from all UK parties in the next election. Each major party in the UK all have dedicated marketing teams, but neither David CameronNick Clegg or Ed Miliband are using social media marketing to its full potential.

Google+ and Politics

The most exciting potential for politicians to interact with constituents in my view is through hangouts – an ideal medium for politicians to show an unscripted, and thus seemingly more truthful conversation. Perhaps a hangout with Cameron and Clegg discussing solutions for the housing shortage, or other key topics?

Social marketing provides a platform for politicians to show a personal side to voters, and reach constituents directly. Whoever takes full advantage of this will be in good stead to win the next UK election.