Klout: Like.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have participated and seen several discussions on the merits of general score analytics in Social Media engagement (like Klout and PeerIndex).

On one hand, most of the criticism come from experts (for the most part deserving of the title) who complain about the score not expressing the quality of their expertise. They say the scores are just a measure of the “time you spend in Twitter”.

Yes, I think it is important to understand what is being measured: level of engagement in social media. Once we acknowledge that, I think general scores are useful and can be considered a valid dimension of “influence”.

On the other hand, if we accept it as a valid measure, a social media engagement score reflects influence only to the degree you use social media to exert it. It is not a measure of the total expertise or influence of a person.

We should take general engagement scores like Klout and PeerIndex with a grain of salt. I agree with the ones who consider the tagline “The Standard for Influence” a bit of a stretch. But every marketing slogan is a stretch.

Then this morning, Klout had a technical problem and most users saw their scores drop drastically o single digits for a couple of hours. That gives the critics the perfect opportunity to say: #fail!

The irony of the incident is that the Klout score for @klout (the user representing them in interaction with the community) will go up because there were so many people complaining about their scores (increasing volume of mentions and conversations impact the engagement score positively).

Does that event show the flaws in social media engagement scoring? (How can a negative incident increase your score?!)

Or does it simply reflect the fact that the event validated the influence of @klout (or else why would so many people check their own score early in the morning, notice the glitch, and trigger such large number of conversations?).

What do you think?

Um dos 50

Em Maio de 2011 fui mencionado por Ricardo Jordão (@bizrevolution) em uma lista dos “50 Brasileiros que todo empreendedor deve seguir no Twitter“.

Como o blog dele é muito popular, recebi uma onda de seguidores em Twitter no Brasil (mais de 200 em alguns dias), e muitos pedidos para começar a publicar conteúdo em Português.

Sempre gostei de escrever em Português mas faltava ter a audiência. Agora não tem mais desculpa. Abri uma conta em Twitter (@Marcio_SaitoBR) e prometo começar a blogar na língua materna.

Os assuntos vão ser os mesmos do meu blog em inglês (Mídias Sociais, Social Business, Montanhismo, Vinho, Comida, Cotidiano), mas com um foco adicional em empreendedorismo e California-Brazil.

Meu primeiro artigo vai ser “Vale do Silício – Perspectiva de um Brasileiro”, prometido para o dia primeiro de Junho aqui mesmo em http://MarcioSaito.com. Você tem alguma curiosidade a respeito do Vale? Gostaria de saber onde almoçar quando vier visitar? Me diga sobre o que escrever. Se você tiver outras sugestões de temas, é só avisar aí embaixo nos comentários.

Até então, veja o conteúdo em Inglês aqui ou visite o meu business blog.

Se quiser ajudar a divulgar, peçam para os amigos seguirem @Marcio_SaitoBR em Twitter.


Social Media and B2B Sales – Change is coming

Last week I wrote about Customer Service and Twitter and argued, among other things, that first experiences with social media are not necessarily sustainable. There is unrealistic optimism that social media can solve all problems in Customer Service (and Marketing, of course).

Now, when we come to use of social media by B2B sales people, we observe the opposite: I hardly hear anything. It is as if Social Media had nothing to do with Sales.

If sales is largely a social activity based on personal relationships and if social media supports more personal, bi-directional communication in real-time, one would expect sales people to be avid early adopters of social media, right?

Sales People are a pragmatic bunch

They are always going after their sales quota and that keep them very focused on results, not hype or future promise.

For example, as of 2011, less than 2% of the people in the world uses Twitter. Even in advanced economies, penetration of Twitter among business decision makers is still in the low single digits. Facebook has more penetration, but its use in business is still rare. LinkedIn is probably the most useful in B2B today.

While checking the LinkedIn profile of new prospects as preparation for important meetings is a routine now, a more active use of Social Media for engagement is still an exception.

Another reason limiting use of social media in sales is technology. Social media has been widely adopted by consumers, but business tools (cell phones, existing CRM systems, corporate communications, etc) lag behind the curve integrating with Social Media.

But change has already started

Have you had someone return a voice message lately? Do you still send quotations by fax? Can you trust people read every single e-mail message you send?

As social media gradually increases its participation in the routine of most people, it will become more and more difficult to engage with customers (be them consumers or business buyers) through classical channels. People will simply stop checking voice mail. The day a Skype message or a Twitter DM is not only more acceptable, but also more effective than an email in getting people’s attention is not very far in the future.

Sales People are also smart

I talk to a lot of sales people these days. Most of them are very aware of the role social media will play and many have already started experimenting with personal social media engagement tools. They connect with contacts in LinkedIn and follow customers in Twitter.

As business software tool vendors race to incorporate social media and corporations catch up to consumers on its adoption, we approach the convergence point where mainstream business communication will shift the same way consumers’ have. Change is gradual, but manifestation of change is not.

Are you ready for that shift? Do you have a different opinion? Let us know (just don’t leave me a voice message – I no longer have a voice mail system).

Customer Service through Twitter – Sustainable?

In recent (Twitter) discussions, I heard statements that “Twitter is the future primary medium for Customer Service” and descriptions of experiences like “I get faster and better response from companies when I express dissatisfaction in Twitter.”

But it is important for us to question it. Is Twitter really a medium that can support the full delivery of customer service to customers who choose it as the initial channel? Is the perception that Twitter allows for better/faster response realistic?

As of 2011, less than 2% of the people in the world uses Twitter (there are about 175M of registered accounts, with a significant number of inactive ones). Even if we discount the fact that the world isn’t an uniform place, penetration of Twitter among consumers and business decision makers in advanced economies is still in the low single digits.

Companies monitoring and using Twitter and social media are allocating resources to that task that are disproportionately large compared to that penetration. They are also empowering better-trained agents compared to other channels to act on behalf of the company. That is the main reason we, privileged early adopters of social media in a business context, can get faster and better response complaining in Twitter.

(Does anyone have data confirming or negating the previous paragraph?)

Don’t get me wrong. I believe adoption of Twitter and other Social Media tools in business is going to grow in the next years. The early adopters of Twitter are highly influential and there is a good business case to give them unfair attention. Companies should be investing in understanding and exploring the new medium. Twitter will have a very important role in customer service.

My point is that we are still in learning mode. We cannot assume that our initial experience as early adopters are sustainable in the long-term. Over time, we need to find the role of Twitter and other social media channels in customer service (and other corporate functions).

Personally, I believe engagement through social media can scale (see article) and Twitter has an important role in the detection and identification of issues, first contact, case triage, etc. Customer Service presence in Twitter also leverages the social character of the media (amplify voice of customer, offer solutions to many at once, promote peer-to-peer help, etc).

But I don’t necessarily think it is the medium for the delivery of the entire customer service resolution process.

As said, this is learning period, so what I believe is just what I believe. What do you?