Where Should Social Media Live? Marketing, That’s Where

Amber Naslund recently commented on a post of mine, and said:

As social business becomes more the MO instead of just “doing social media”, we still don’t have an answer for where it lives, and it needs somewhere. I don’t think it’s going to be enough for it just to be dispersed independently in various departments. We have C-suite roles that are holistic and support the entire business. HR and IT do that to an extent, too, because they’re practices that have to carry across and touch all disciplines. I think social business needs to be that way too.

But as it matures – and maybe even after it’s well established as best practice – it needs some kind of alignment in order to thrive. I’ve yet to make up my mind whether that means there’s an executive that’s responsible for ‘social business’ itself or something else, but the reality is that we need someone to be accountable for the purposes, vision, and results of social business initiatives (and things like innovation, organizational design, culture development ) as their purview, not just an aspect of their job description.

This has been an ongoing question, and one that is not easily answered.

Except that I think it’s the Marketing department.

If you look at Marketing as the communication channel between customers and the company, and not just the department that makes brochures, pictures, and websites, it makes sense. Marketing communicates through web, print, broadcast, and even direct communication. How those messages reach their audience depends on the mediums (media) where they’re found.

There are those who would argue that it should belong in PR, because they have to communicate with journalists and industry bloggers who are all using social media. Some will argue that it should be in customer service, because it has become an established customer service communication channel. (I would argue that customer service should be folded into marketing, since they focus on customer retention, but that’s a different blog post.)

But if anything, the responsibility for social media needs to be kept in marketing for the communication aspect, and the other departments need to be allowed to use it as part of their own responsibilities. If anyone is going to decide what the social media strategy will be, that should come from marketing, but in cooperation with PR, Customer Service, and any other departments using it.

As I said in a recent blog post, Social Media Stars Killed Social Media, we’re reaching the point where social media is just going to be another form of communication, like email and the phone, and we’re not going to have dedicated social media professionals.

So when that day comes that social media professionals just turn into regular old professionals, they need to land in the marketing department.

Five Steps for New Pro Athletes to Establish Their Personal Brand

Professional athletes may have one of the easiest times in their personal branding, but they need to take advantage of it, if they want to leverage their name, their skills, and the draw that comes from being on a pro team.

However, unless sportscasters on ESPN are talking about you going first or second in the draft, you’ve got an uphill battle to fight.

I was recently working with a young pro athlete who is still in the early stages of his career, and is starting to build his personal brand in the community. That’s smart. This is the right time to do it, and he’s starting at just the right time. But like most young athletes, you don’t have your own publicist or agent who can take care of these things for you. Or you have a team publicist who can lend you a hand, but you’ll end up doing most of this yourself.

These are the first five steps any new professional athlete, regardless of sport, team, or league, should take to grow their own personal brand.

1. Get a photo of you in action.

Whether it’s you on the court, the field, the track, or wherever — practicing or playing — get a photo of you “at the office.” You already want to be known for your particular sport, so make sure you make it part of your personal brand by making it your avatar on all your social networks. If you’re playing on a team, ask your team publicist for one. If you don’t have one, hire a professional photographer to help you out.

Make sure you get a good shot that lets people know it’s you — your uniform number, your face, or if you’re a race car driver, your car. (And frankly, if you can get a shot with you and your team’s marquis player in it — assuming that’s not already you — that’s even better.)

Speedy Dan Clarke

2. Be active on Twitter

Dan Clarke (@SpeedyDanClarke is an open wheel (IndyCar) and NASCAR truck racer in Indianapolis. He is constantly using Twitter to talk with fans who are following him (and who he’s following back), and to promote the different events where he’ll be driving. Whether it’s a race, a test, or even a course he’s trying out, Dan keeps his fans abreast of what he’s up to. The upside of this is that if he can continue to build his network of fans, he’s more likely to win sponsors so he has a ride this year, because he can show them his legions of loyal fans. Just like a book publisher who is interested in self-published authors who have already sold a lot of books, a sponsor would be interested in an athlete who can bring a lot of fans along with him or her.

3. Set up a Facebook PAGE

Not a profile. A profile is your personal page. That’s how you’re going to talk to family and friends. But you’ll want to keep your fans a healthy distance away, so set your Facebook profile to a pseudonym (e.g. use your first name and your mom’s maiden name) so only your friends can find you.

Your Facebook page is like a public profile, where you can interact with fans, but they can’t see the stuff you’re talking about with family. Be sure to communicate with your fans on a regular basis, so they can feel like you’re involved with them, but they’re not personally involved.

4. Establish a Wikipedia page.

As an athlete, you’re more likely to get a Wikipedia page accepted by the editors of Wikipedia than non-athletes will. Ask your team publicist to help you start it. Be sure they understand the rules of Wikipedia before you start the page: completely objective language. The copy needs to be written like a real encyclopedia. That means “really boring.” In other words, they can’t sound like the player profiles in the program.

5. Start a blog

A lot of people roll their eyes at this, because they hate writing, but a blog may be one of the most important personal branding tools you have. You need a blog as a place for people to find more information about you. Remember, you’re in this not only so you can become famous, but so sponsors can find you. So people who want to pay you a few thousand dollars to speak to their group can find you. So fans who want to learn more can find you.

Your best bet — hire a social media consultant for help on this — is to do the following:

  1. Buy your name as a domain name from GoDaddy or Domains.com. If you can’t get your name, get your name and your uniform number: DallasClark44.com, for example.
  2. Set up a free blog at WordPress.com. Better yet, get your social media person to set up a WordPress blog on an external server. (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, just tell your social media person, “Erik says I need a self-hosted WordPress blog.” If they don’t know what that is, they’re not the ones to help you. Find someone who knows how to create WordPress blogs.
  3. Point your domain at your WordPress blog. Put this domain on your card (see #6) and on any information you share with people. Remember, you want to drive traffic here — Twitter, your Facebook page, and any other networks are all used to drive traffic here.
  4. Pick up the book Corporate Blogging For Dummies, and start writing about things in your professional life: training, practice, games/matches. Be sure to include photos and videos.

6. Create a Player Card

Some teams do this for their players who make a lot of public appearances. They create player cards that look like Topps baseball cards, which they sign and hand out to kids whenever they appear in public. If you’re not in one of those leagues, consider creating your own player card. Hire a graphic designer, hand them a few baseball cards, and ask them to recreate that. Put your social media properties on the back with your stats and very short bio.

While your card is not going to be a collector’s item that is as eagerly sought as a Johnny Bench rookie card, it’s going to be something that helps people remember who you are, and even how to get ahold of you later.

It’s Called “Personal Branding.” Get Over It.

Being a personal branding book author and speaker, I get a little protective of the term. I always want to roll my eyes at people who claim “I’m not a brand, I’m a person,” or at people like Olivier Blanchard, who call people with personal brands fake, saying the personal brand is an artifice.

Personal branding is really just the fancy 21st century word for “reputation.” It’s how people perceive you.

Do you do what you say you do? More importantly, do other people say you do what you do? Are you a kind and helpful person? Do other people say so? Then your personal brand — your reputation, if you must — is that you’re kind and helpful. Do people think you’re an arrogant jerk? Then your personal brand is that you’re an arrogant jerk.

We call it personal branding for two reasons:

A brand is an emotional response on the part of the people who see it.

It’s much more than just a company’s logo and a tagline. It’s how you feel when you see that logo and tagline.

Think of your feelings toward McDonald’s, the Chicago Cubs, and even BP Oil. Love them or hate them, that is what you feel, and that’s how you react when you see symbols of that corporate brand. You won’t eat at that place, you’ll remain a fan for life, or you refuse to buy gas from that company. That’s your emotional response.

Basically, what other people feel, and how they react, when they hear your name and see your face is your personal brand. Does your face make people happy? Or does the mere mention of your name make people make gagging noises? That’s their emotional response, which makes it your personal brand. (Again, we can still call it your reputation.)

A brand is what people say it is.

The control of marketing has been seized from the professionals by real people. It’s no longer in the hands of the trained marketers to say whether a product or company is good. We now trust the say-so of people, often friends, but sometimes strangers.

Think about the last time you bought a piece of electronic equipment or a book, or even visited a new restaurant. Did you check the reviews or ask friends what they thought of it? Or were you persuaded by the marketing copy, the photos, and the search engine placement?

Like most of us who are plugged into this Web 2.0 world, you took the unsolicited and unmoderated recommendations of friends (and even strangers) over the hard work of the trained professionals. And that equipment, book, or restaurant was as good or as bad as your friends said it was.

In other words, the marketing message of a particular company or product has been seized by the people who will react to it, share it, spread it, buy into it, boycott it, or denigrate it.

People control the brand now. The marketers may be able to control the information, but people control the reputation.

How does this affect your personal brand?

This is true of people and their perceptions of us: right or wrong, we have become the sum of what people think of us. Their “reviews” of us come in the form of responses to our tweets, comments on our blog posts, even things they say about us when we’re not around.

In many cases, the thing we’re selling is us. We’re selling ourselves when we apply for a job. Or when we’re pitching a project. Or getting a speaking gig. Or selling a book. People are buying us, and if they don’t like who we are, based on our reputation, we won’t get the “sale.”

A personal brand is not an act, it’s not a character, it’s not a fake you. It’s the real you that wants to be seen and respected by other people. It’s the person you want to be, not the person you want people to think you are. That’s fakery — acting like a jerk to people in private while trying to be sunshine and light in public.

Being true to your personal brand means that you’ll act the same way in public as you do when no one is looking, or at least no one with a decent Klout score. If you’re kind (or a jerk) in public, you’ll be kind (or a jerk) in private. That’s the real personal brand.

It comes down to this. I don’t care what you call it: call it a personal brand, call it your reputation, call it your image. But whatever you call it, be true to it. Don’t fake it, and don’t try to pass as something you’re not.

Just know that most of the people around you are going to call it “personal branding,” whether you like the term or not. Fighting this battle is about as fruitless as people not wanting to call blogging “blogging” anymore, or think that “social media” just needs to be called “media.” It’s all just tilting at windmills while everyone else is actually doing the thing, regardless of what people call it.

5 Reasons B2B Sales Need Social Media

“We’re in B2B sales, we can’t use social media.”

I hear it many times. B2B salespeople who think they can’t use social media, because social media is just for fun. It’s just for kids. Their clients don’t use it. Blah blah blah.

I don’t know who keeps perpetuating the myth that social media is some kids’ playground that “real” businesspeople aren’t allowed to use, but it’s wrong. There is no one who can’t benefit from social media. Even spies can use social media — the CIA has one at ICouldTellYouButI’dHaveToKillYou.com.

But I was in B2B sales long enough, in a past life, that I can see exactly where and how B2B salespeople can use social media.

1. Solve problems.

The best way to find customers is not to call them up, one at a time, from a phone list, and hope for the best. The best way to find customers is to happen upon them when they have a problem, and fix it. Even if it’s just a small problem that’s easily managed in a single Twitter message or 500 word email, you will get a person’s attention when you help them.

You answer their question, show them how to fix the problem completely, and they’re grateful. They’re so grateful, they check out your profile, see who you work for, and visit your website.

They don’t buy anything from you right then, but they start paying attention to you on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or an industry discussion board. They see you helping others, and they realize you solve problems. You’re honest, you’re helpful, and you provide value to them.

And then one day, they realize they have a problem where they need your help — paying-you-money kind of help. You meet, show them how your product can fix their problems, and they buy it.

2. Become your industry’s expert.

Solve problems for a lot of people, not just a few. Start a blog and write important articles about industry trends. Write articles about how trends in other industries affect yours. Write articles that show people how to fix a common problem. Write articles about other articles other industry people have written.

But do it without pimping your product. Don’t write commercial after commercial about your products. Don’t write about “5 ways our rotary wankle engine beats the competition.” Don’t even write about problems where your product is the only solution. People hate that, and will ignore you.

Then, share those articles on your social networks — Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. As your customers and prospects read your articles, they’ll figure if you know enough to write about these issues over and over, you must know what you’re talking about.

Not only will they think you’re an expert, they’ll realize you know enough to fix their specific problem. They won’t want the help from the person who just called them up for the 8th time. They want the expert whose wisdom they’ve been reading for the last several months or years.

3. Deepen relationships.

Social media lets you connect with other people, in all industries, all career levels, all over the world.

You can be Twitter friends with your favorite customers. You can be LinkedIn colleagues with important decision makers. (And you can keep tabs on the competition.)

Social media lets you deepen important work relationships without constant face-to-face meetings. You can find out interesting things about people, things you would never learn in a real meeting. And things that show you care about them as a person.

“I saw on Twitter that you got a new puppy. How’s she doing?”

Now you’ve connected with them, gotten to know them better, and you can start deepening that relationship. Only it doesn’t stop growing when you’ve left them. You can continue to grow it when you’re back at your office.

People buy from people they like. By using social media to grow your relationships, you can get people to like — and buy from — you.

4. Avoid gatekeepers.

Anyone who is in sales has learned that gatekeepers are the bane of our existence. It seems their sole purpose in life, the reason they were put here on this earth, is to say no to salespeople.

Guess what.

Those people are not monitoring your customers’ social networks. They’re not on Twitter blocking your tweets. They’re not on LinkedIn intercepting your group discussions.

Your customers using it themselves. They’re paying attention to you. They’re reading what you have to say. And because you’ve done the previous three steps, they’re willing to talk with you on the phone or meet with you face-to-face.

Because the one phrase that trumps all gatekeepers, and is like sunlight to a vampire to them?

“He asked me to call.”

5. Keep up with client turnover.

People move on. They get promoted, they change jobs. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve called someone only to find they left that job. All that work, all those phone calls and meetings, wasted. I could catch up with that person in their new job, if the gatekeeper was willing to share it, but a good bit of the time, that wasn’t possible.

With social media, because I’m keeping up with the people in my industry, I know when someone is moving on. I see their announcement on Twitter, I get the profile change notice on LinkedIn. I can send them congratulatory messages, follow up after they get settled in, and help them in their new role.

Occasionally, I can connect them to other people who can help, or write a blog post that relates to their new role and ideas to consider in their new position. (Sort of like this one.)

Social media is a force majeure in the business world, even while old school sales and marketing pros are still questioning whether and how to use social media, not realizing it’s already being used to great effect. Especially by the competition.

If you want to stay up with current trends and be a valuable resource to your current and potential clients, start using social media tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Facebook. (But that’s for another post.)

It sure beats playing Dialing for Dollars day after day.

My Appearance on the Litopia After Dark Radio Show

Last Friday, September 16, I had the pleasure of appearing on the Litopia After Dark radio show with Andi Buchanan, author of the Daring Book for Girls (which has sold 2 million copies, and apparently has a movie deal), and about a jillion other books, and Philip Jones, owner/editor of TheBookSeller.com, to talk about personal branding for book authors.

It was a bit intimidating, because I’ve become a regular LAD listener for about three months now, and they’ve had some heavy hitters on here before. In fact, given Andi’s publishing pedigree and the fact that Philip has a super-mega-giant book publishing news site, I felt like the little kid who opened his lemonade stand next to a Wal-Mart.

But I had a great time. Peter Cox, the host and a literary agent in England, did an awesome job, made me feel comfortable, and made sure everyone had time to talk about their projects.

(You can hear the entire episode — My Wiki Has Go-Faster Stripes — below.)

If you’re a book author, aspiring or otherwise, you need to join the Litopia community at Litopia.com. Given the solitary nature of our vocation, it’s nice to be able to meet other writers who share similar interests, even if they’re in other parts of the world. Litopia makes all that happen.

15 Social Media Tactics to Promote Your Upcoming Theatrical Show

We just finished the 10-day festival of independent theatre and weirdness known as the Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival, and I had a chance to see a few shows, including a couple of old favorites.

I also had a chance to talk social media — because I’m an annoying geek that way — with a couple performers, and decided to write a blog post based on what I told a couple of them.

Didi Panache and Wayburn Sassy of the Screw You Revue

Didi Panache and Wayburn Sassy of the Screw You Revue

This post is written for any musician or performer, especially the independent theatrical types who depend on ticket sales to make their living. For some of these performers, they bounce from festival to festival and make a good portion of their income from their take. Some even use one festival to pay for the next one.

This is a strategy they can use to improve their take next year.

What You’ll Need

  • A laptop computer
  • A digital camera with video capabilities. If not, your laptop’s camera will do.
  • A Twitter account.
  • A blog (WordPress.com or Blogger.com are great free platforms, as is Posterous.com and Tumblr.com)
  • A YouTube account.
  • A Facebook page. (This is different from a personal profile. You want an Artist’s page.)

What You’ll Do

These are in a general chronological order, but not in a do-one-then-the-next lockstep order. I’m using the Indianapolis Fringe (#IndyFringe) as an example, but this will work for any concert, performance, show, or festival.

 

  • First, make sure your Twitter bio includes a line about the name of your show, or your most famous character’s name. If you only performed in one festival, put the name of that in the bio too. “You may have seen me at the #IndyFringe Festival!” You can always change your bio, especially as you move from festival to festival, or follow specific groups of people.
  • Start following people on Twitter. People will follow you back, especially once they see that you’re a performer at the festival they went to, and even moreso if they were at your show. To find people who were at the festival, do these steps:

 

  • Go to FollowBlast.com and do a search for #indyfringe, and follow anyone using that term. Keep in mind that these hashtags only work for about 30 minutes, so it’s actually a good idea to access this site while you’ve got some downtime at next year’s show.
  • Build a hashtag archive at TwapperKeeper.com. I’m still trying this out, but I’m hoping it will collect old hashtags, unlike FollowBlast.com. However, it only goes back 7 – 10 days, and back for 1,500 tweets. It will then go forward and continue to save tweets. You should set this up before your next festival starts. Work in conjunction with the festival organizers, because they may want to use your archive as well. Also, before you start, search to see if anyone else set up an archive before you so you don’t duplicate efforts.
  • Go to search.twitter.com as another way to search for #hashtags. Put in #indyfringe and see what you can find. Search results are somewhat limited, but you may be able to find older tweets that FollowBlast and Twapper Keeper couldn’t, especially if you’re seeing this now, and are scrambling to recover those old tweets.
  • If all else fails, try Topsy. It’s not 100% accurate, but it gives you more than you might get if you’re looking for a festival that ended three weeks ago.

 

  • Check out the festival organizer’s Twitter page and follow everyone they follow (not everyone who follows them). If they have been good Twitter stewards, they have vetted the people they’re following. Those people will include other performers, supporters, festival-goers, and other people in the industry or festival business. (This last group could be a good connection to getting into other festivals!) Do this with any festivals you plan on going to next year as well.
  • Use Twellow.com and Twellowhood.com as a way to find other people who are in the cities where you’ll be next year.
  • Why You’ll Do It

    Okay so far? You’ve built your Twitter list for a very important reason: Promoting stuff! You’re going to promote next year’s show through videos, your blog, and even email newsletters. Here’s how.

    Zan Aufderheide of Welcome to Zanland

    Zan Aufderheide of Welcome to Zanland

    • Now you need your camera. Start shooting some short videos. Update us on what you’re doing, where you’ll be, thoughts on stuff you did this year. Treat it like a diary. If you’re an actor playing a part, do it in character, especially if that character is going to be back at the festivals next year. Shoot the videos in character, or tell some jokes, or give people a preview of what you’ve been working on. Shoot some rehearsals, some special messages to individuals, or perform a new song.
    • Post those on YouTube.com (make them public), and make sure you fill out all the details, like Title, Description, etc. (all this stuff is indexed by Google, which makes your videos found more easily by people searching for you or the festival).
    • Share these videos on Twitter and your Facebook page, and post them to your blog (do the same with any photos you take). This will accomplish a lot of pre-show promo before you ever set foot in the city. And if you can get people buzzing about the show before you start, you’ll be selling out more shows.

    You can get a Flip camera for as low as $170 now, and if you think that’s still high, use the money you were going to spend on fancy-schmancy postcards and spend it on the camera instead. The postcards are immediately dated once the festival ends, and you can’t reuse them. The video camera will pay for itself with all the videos you shoot and the postcards you don’t buy.

    Finally, there are a few things you want to do next year, to get ready for the next off-season.

      • Build a mailing list of all your attendees. Send around a clipboard before your show begins, or have them sign up before they leave. Ask people for their HOME email, not their work email — especially if your show is laden with profanities and cross-dressers. Guard this with your life. Promise to never, ever spam them. Use it only for newsletters and occasional social media communication.
      • Load that list into a Gmail account (here’s why you should use Gmail), and then either use the Rapportive.com Gmail plugin, or upload the email list to Gist.com, to start finding where your list members can be found on the different social media networks. Follow them on Twitter, and connect with them on Facebook.
      • Send out an occasional newsletter — no more than once a month — and email it to them. Let them know what you’re working on for next year so they get excited about your upcoming visit. Give them an opportunity to unsubscribe, but try to give them useful information so they won’t want to.
      • Use your video camera to shoot post-show testimonials and get them up on your blog as soon as a show ends. Tweet the new blog posts to your Twitter network during the show, so you can continue to remind people you’re there and you’ve got an awesome show. Ask your Twitter network to retweet your show information, so they can help you spread the word.

    There is so much more you can do with social media. Believe it or not, this is just scratching the surface of what can be done. But while it seems overwhelming, keep in mind two things:

        1. This will get easier as you do it more often.
        2. It beats the hell out of busking and handing out postcards in 90 degree heat.

    Photo credit: Erik Deckers

 

Why Is Klout Important?

Screenshot of a Klout.com score

My post about three secrets to improve your Klout score generated a lot of discussion, partly about other techniques, but also wondering why Klout is even important.

Billy Kirsch asked how it would influence him on Twitter. Brooke Randolph wanted to know how it would help her, and why she would want to improve her score beyond bragging rights. And Ivan Torres said it was just an artificial number that didn’t affect the experience.Screenshot of a Klout.com score

To answer these questions, let’s take a look at what your Klout score means.

Your Klout score is basically the best way we have to quantify whether you’re doing a good job on social media. While it measures mostly Twitter, it also looks at your activity on Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s a measurement of your social media influence — your clout — and whether people like and trust you enough to respond to the things you do. In other words, if your social media footprint were a sales letter, would your readers respond to your call to action?

Your Twitter “call to action” includes things like:

  • Do people click on the links you send out. If it’s to a new blog post or an interesting article, do they follow the link, or ignore it? If you typically write and tweet interesting stuff, they’re more likely to follow it.
  • Do people retweet the interesting tweets you send out? Do they respond and share it with their networks, or do they just go “meh” and let it rot at the bottom of their Twitter barrel? If you’re engaging, witty, or really smart, then you’re probably tweeting interesting stuff that other people want to share.
  • Are people talking to or about you directly? Are they asking you questions, pointing out interesting articles to you, or inviting you to stuff? Or are you an unknown quantity like that weird kid in high school no one really paid attention to? If people know who you are, you’ll be top-of-mind when it comes time to write original tweets to specific people.

Klout measures things like this and compiles your score, based on a scale of 1 – 100. However, it’s different from your traditional grading scale: 60 is not a D, and you have to be an international star to get 100. Chris Brogan has one of the highest Twitter scores, and he has a 81. Ashton Kutcher has 81, and Justin Bieber has 100. (I also have a higher score than Helio Castroneves, even though he has more followers and more Indy 500 wins than I do, so being a celebrity is no guarantee you have a high Klout score.)

So what does a good Klout score do for you?

Truthfully, not much. You don’t win prizes, you don’t gain fame or fortune, and you don’t get book deals. Beyond bragging rights, there’s not a lot that Klout will do for you.

Except…

Except people with higher Klout scores are considered influencers. People with high Klout scores have worked hard to grow and polish their reputation, and become the kind of person other people want to click through, retweet, and talk to. And these people get some benefits from marketers who want to reach people with good reputations.

  • I received some swag and DVDs from the makers of the TV shows Lone Star and Southland. Lone Star sent me a t-shirt, some beer and martini glasses, a cooler, and a tin of popcorn. Southland sent me similar stuff. Both shows wanted me to watch their show and tell all my followers about it in the hopes that they would watch it to. (Sadly, Lone Star was canceled after two episodes.)
  • Audi asked influential designers, technology pros, and luxury lifestyle thinkers with high Klout scores to test drive their new A8 model at an exclusive San Francisco event. The hope, other than finding that Klout influencer with 100,000 bucks laying around, was that people would talk about the A8 to their friends via Twitter, their blog, YouTube, and Flickr. For the price of a what is normally an automotive journalists’ trip, Audi was able to get some word of mouth advertising and reaching a non-automotive audience who might not normally consider an Audi.
  • Bottlenotes Chicago offered tickets to the Around the World in 8 Sips Chicago free wine and cheese tasting to wine influencers. Restaurants and special events always give away free meals or passes, but by reaching out to Klout influencers, they are able to get some digital ink from the social media influencers for their food costs, without spending any more money on print advertising, or TV or radio commercials.
  • Movie studios have offered free passes to fans in the hopes that they’ll tell their friends about the movie, again providing word of mouth marketing for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and advertising. Rather than putting together a special screening for people, they give away free passes and reap the same benefit as the screening.

So what is the benefit to you to having a decent Klout score? Right now, not much. Free movies, free swag from TV shows, free meals, and a chance to drive a car that costs more than the average national salary. Plus, you get to dog on your friends who may have a score lower than yours.

But, and this is what’s most important, you’re getting a good indication of how your social media efforts are working out. Think of this as analytics for your social media influence. It may be an artificial number, but it’s the closest thing we’ve got to a quantitative indication about how well we’re doing. And while people are still debating the efficacy of the Klout score, it’s the best indicator out there.

So use it, take it with a grain of salt, but don’t ignore it or dismiss it out of hand. If you care about whether you’re actually making progress in your social media efforts — or you just want some cool swag — pay attention to Klout until something better comes along, or until they improve.