Is the Forbes Top 50 Social Media List Flawed?

If you made the Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencers list, you’re generally regarded as being pretty hot stuff. The Top 50 have a lot of influence, are extremely knowledgeable, and are connected to tens of thousands of people in their various networks.

If you didn’t make the list, you can tell yourself you were #51, or just try harder next year.

This year’s list was compiled by Haydn Shaughnessy using a “Pull Report” from PeekAnalytics.com.

There are also some basic criteria for involvement – experts must be creating their own content, and it has to be about social media. See more on the criteria here.

On the scoring, Peek Analytics gives people a score called Pull. If an individual has a Pull of 10x, that means that the audience the individual can reach is at least ten times greater than what the average social media user can reach.

Sounds pretty straightforward: if you’re a rockstar, you’ll be on the list.

Except it’s missing several notable names.

Jason Falls, Jay Baer, Chris Baggott

Seriously, these guys didn’t make the list? Jason Falls (l), Jay Baer, Chris Baggott (standing)

According to Judith Gotwald on Social Media Today (25 Social Media Influencers Forbes Ignored (And Why)), the Forbes list has snubbed a lot of pretty influential people, including several who were on last year’s list: Jay Baer, Jason Falls, Gini Dietrich, Charlene Li, Brian Solis, C.C. Chapman (Forbes did include his Content Rules co-author, Ann Handley), and even Mitch Joel.

Of course, Forbes does include some of the names you would expect: Mari Smith, Chris Brogan (but not his Trust Agents co-author Julien Smith), Liz Strauss, Jeff Bullas, Scott Stratten, and Dan Schawbel (disclosure: I write for Dan’s Personal Branding blog).

So what’s up? What happened to the names you would normally expect to see? Did Shaughnessy forget them? Did the non-Forbes people drop off on their Pull? Was PeekAnalytics having a bad day?

Admittedly, many names on both lists are names you expect to see year after year on a Top 50 or Top 100 list, but many of these missing names are glaring in their omission.

I’d like to see some better explanations for the list, and who did and didn’t make it, and why/how. I’d love to hear some of that “inside baseball” talk to explain how he went about determining who to measure, and who not to. How did he come up with the names to check? Is Pull based entirely on followers and reach, or is more like Klout, which could give a person with a very small following a high score because they the followers interact frequently? Or did Shaughnessy want to give some new people a shot at being on the Forbes Top 50? That’s admirable if it’s true, but then the list isn’t accurate or reflective.

It’s not that I’m suspicious of Forbes’ list, or will reject it out of hand, like it’s some partisan wing-nut website. It’s just that the exclusion of several noted social media experts is, well, eyebrow-raising, to say the least.

At the very least, Forbes’ list will be seen as problematic, which can be fixed with some basic explanations. At the worst, it’s a flawed list that is seriously lacking in its execution. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

When “No Bullshit Social Media” Showed Up At My House

The last time I was this excited about opening up a box was last December, when I opened a box filled with copies of Branding Yourself. The first thing I did was call Kyle Lacy and congratulate and thank him.

No Bullshit Social Media books

This is one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.

This time, when my copies of No Bullshit Social Media showed up, I called Jason Falls to congratulate him, and had to leave him a voice mail message.

There comes a time in every writer’s life where publishing blog posts aren’t enough, and they have to resort to the printed word in newspapers and magazines. Or plays. Or speeches. Then, there comes a time when those aren’t enough. Then, it’s books. Self-published, vanity published, collections, and even big boy really-and-for-true publisher books.

Writing is a drug, and blogging is the gateway.

There is no greater high to a writer than to see his or her own name on the cover of a book that they didn’t have to shell out $2,000 to have printed.

I have a lot of people to thank for giving me that opportunity: our editor, Katherine Bull, who I fooled believed in me, and was willing to put up with Jason’s bullshit quirky mannerisms; Leslie O’Neill, our development editor, who made our book awesome; Brandon Prebynski, who made sure everything in our book was correct and really worked; my business partner, Paul Lorinczi, who kept me on track at work, and made sure I had the mental bandwidth to get everything done; and, my wife, Toni, who helped me keep a writing schedule and still find time for the family, and made sure I got at least 4 hours of sleep a night.

This is a momentous time for me, and I have not felt this proud since, well, last December. I appreciate everyone who helped me accomplish a writer’s dream for the third time. I appreciate everyone who has shared their knowledge with me over the years to make me the kind of person who could write a book like this. And I appreciate everyone who will buy the book, and maybe make it a best-seller (secret goal #4).

Will there be more books? Yes. Do I know when or what subject? No. Will they have a curse word in the title? Probably not. But I’m sure going to try.

No Bullshit Social Media: No Tree-Hugging, Kumbaya BS

The following is a guest post by my fellow author and good friend, Jason Falls. It originally appeared on his Social Media Explorer blog.

Now that the world knows Erik Deckers and I have written the soon-to-be-published No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing, we’re beginning to do a lot of interviews. The first question we’re typically asked is, “Why did you write this book?” While that question is somewhat answered in the promotional video (see below) we recorded for the book’s spiffy new website, I thought it might be wise to dive a little deeper into that reasoning here.

No Bullshit Social Media cover

Available at NoBullshitSocialMedia.com

As you may have seen on the Exploring Social Media infographic Social Media: Bridging The Gap we published last month, the stark reality of the marketplace is that too many businesses, especially small businesses, aren’t using social media. Heck, 44 percent of small businesses don’t even have a website! Only 27 percent of small businesses use Facebook. Just 18 percent use LinkedIn. The numbers are similarly staggering for the use of SEO techniques and online advertising. An astonishing 65 percent of small businesses — many brick-and-mortar retail shops — say that mobile marketing is not valuable to them. And this one floored me: 68 percent of businesses update their websites no more frequently than once per month. (See the infographic for the various sources of that data.)

While I’m sure Erik and I could have penned, “No Bullshit Digital Marketing,” and frankly, we may have to, we wanted to deliver the business possibility for social media to the masses. Business owners, marketing managers, executives … the people who are running these companies who don’t use or see much reason for using social media, mobile marketing or Internet marketing at all … they need to see that you can use social media marketing with business in mind. You can plan for success. You can establish goals.

I’ve said a few times I think this might be the first book that looks at social media marketing through a strategic planning filter, like you would other communications channels. We’ve stripped away the tree-hugger, Kumbaya bullshit and laid out the seven drivers social media can fuel for your business. We’ve collected case studies and examples of how others are using social media to drive those seven areas and we’ve put it all together into a book that hands you a blueprint for success in the social realm.

In my opinion, the book should have been written and published two years ago. But fate/timing/whatever got in the way. It might be a little late to the conversation for some of you, but I’ll guarantee you it isn’t for the mainstream business owners and executives who are showing up in those statistics as not getting it.

My professional mission at this point in my career is to make social media marketing more accessible. I help individuals do that through my learning community and question-answer site at Exploring Social Media. I help companies do that individually as a social media marketing strategic consultant. I try to translate that when I give talks and speeches as a social media keynote speaker.

No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing is another way Erik and I can evangelize what we do and make social media marketing more accessible to those that need it most.

Download a free chapter at NoBullshitSocialMedia.com and pre-order your copy for a mid-October delivery today. We’d be honored if you did.

No Bullshit Social Media: One Jujuflop Away from Civil Collapse

There’s a great piece of narration from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that talks about how certain words, which were once distasteful and unspeakable, are now perfectly acceptable to say.

Like “jujuflop.”No Bullshit Social Media cover

In today’s modern Galaxy there is, of course, very little still held to be unspeakable. Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and, in extreme cases, shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed, and totally unf**ked-up personality.

So, for instance, when in a recent national speech, the financial minister of the Royal World Estate of Qualvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another, and the fact that no one had made any food for awhile and the king seemed to have died, and that most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy had now arrived at what he called, “One whole juju-flop situation,” everyone was so pleased he felt able to come out and say it, that they quite failed to notice that their five-thousand-year-old civilisation had just collapsed overnight.

I feel that way about No Bullshit Social Media, the book I wrote with Jason Falls. I’m not embarrassed by the title. I’m only worried that this is America’s jujuflop: 1) That no one is shocked by the title because we’ve all heard and said worse, and 2) that everyone is so pleased to see it in print that they fail to notice everything else has collapsed around them.

I can’t remember whose idea the title was, but when we pitched it to our editor, Katherine Bull (@katherinebull) and her department, there wasn’t a whole lot of pushback on it. There was some concern over what some of the bookstores might say, but they were all “meh” about it, so we knew we were golden.

I’m proud of the “No Bullshit” title and I’m proud of the work. There’s no question about that (although I won’t let my kids repeat it). And I know there are still some people who, despite my best efforts, will not speak or even write out the name of the title, despite my entreaties that they should honor the literary integrity of the book’s title.

(I actually respect them for this. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit trying to get them to say it.)

We picked the title, because that was the only way to describe the approach we were going to take in the book. That, and because we thought Gary Vaynerchuk might want the title . . .And The Horse You Rode In On for his next book.

So, don’t worry about whether you like the title. If you don’t believe social media is right for your company, you need to read it. You don’t have to say the name, you just have to read the book. This book is for you, whether you like the title or not.

No Bullshit describes the approach and it describes the attitude. We’re not going to snow you with lilting chants about “be a part of conversations with your customers” or other tree-hugging hippie bullshit, as Jason calls it. Social media marketing is about the bottom line. About making money. About finding a way to turn this free marketing channel into one that brings in revenue.

Because the executives and business owners who pooh-pooh social media as a passing fad or merely for young people are missing out on a chance to make more money, win new customers, and ensure their company’s very survival.

And that’s no bullshit.

Announcing The New No Bullshit Social Media Book with Jason Falls

I’ve always wanted to have a book cover with a dirty word on it. Nothing horrific, nothing you would find in “those” bookstores with a plain brown wrapper on it. But something a little shocking.No Bullshit Social Media cover

That’s what I’ve written with my good friend Jason Falls: No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing.

We’re launching this book in October, and it will be found in “real” bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Borders. You can also get it on Amazon.com and BN.com.

As I’ve talked to businesses over the last few years about social media marketing, I run into the same excuses for why they’re scared to they don’t want to use social media:

  • Our customers don’t use it.
  • People will talk about us.
  • Our employees won’t use it right.
  • It’s still just for young people.

And we cite statistics and show real-world examples — here are your customers on it; they’re already talking about you; the fastest growing Facebook demographic is women age 50 – 60 — and still run into the same resistance and fears that have been ruling them. The same stupid reasons they gave for the telephone, the personal computer, cell phones, and the fax machine. Customers don’t use it, staff will abuse it, yada yada yada.

No Bullshit Social Media makes the business case for small businesses and large corporations about why and how they should use social media to improve their bottom line. It’s not a strategy-development book, or a how-to book. It’s written at a mid-level view for the C-level and for the small business owner about what social media does and where other companies have used it with great success. It shows what departments you can use it in, and how you make money with it.

Jason and I also want to come to your town and deliver the No Bullshit message in person. We’re putting together a book tour and quickly adding more dates.

If you have a group, organization or business that would like to sponsor a book tour visit, we’re keeping it simple: Travel expenses and 100 books for one of us, travel expenses and 200 books for both. (We can even help you get bulk book discounts.) Give the books away to the attendees, your company, or local businesses. We’ll talk to your group, get them fired up about social media marketing, and even sign books.

I’m thrilled and honored that Jason agreed to write this book, after a late-night text this past December. He’s been great to work with, and I’m constantly amazed at the way his brain works, as well as the Pearson editorial staff’s ability to deal with it. And him.

I’m looking forward to how well you — and the hopefully thousands of business owners — receive the book. Thank you for your support.

Measure the Three Most Important Business Metrics With Social Media

Jason Falls is currently rocking the Exploring Social Media Business Summit in Toledo, Ohio, talking about measuring social media marketing, and making sure that businesses are making money from it. There are three Very Important Questions every business manager will ask of their social media manager, and you’d better be able to answer them.

  1. How much did we make?
  2. How much did we save?
  3. Are our customers happy?

Jason Falls rocks his talk about social media measurement at #ESMToledo

That’s right, social media hippies. Social media, just like every other part of marketing, is about making money. It’s not about conversations, friends, followers, Likes, fans, connections, comments, or Google ranking. It’s about sales and conversions, and customer service and satisfaction.

This is why social media monitoring and analytics is so crucial. You need to be able to show your boss that your social media campaign was not $20,000 thrown down the toilet, because you thought it would be cool to sell your bulldozers on Facebook.

Use Google Analytics to Measure How Much You Make

Google Analytics can tell you how people came to your website, what pages they visited, and whether they went to your sales page and placed an order. If 300 people visit your website because of a tweet, 30 people went to your sales information page, and 3 people placed an order, you have a close rate of 1%. If your social media campaign costs $1,000 per month, but those 3 sales are worth $4,500, your ROI is $3,500.

Use Your Accountant to Tell You How Much You Saved.

Social media is a great way to handle customer service complaints, reducing the amount of troubleshooting calls that take 20 minutes, reduce technician visits, or even the total number of calls coming in to your service center. Ask your accountant to tell you how much you saved from month-to-month. Calculate the average cost of troubleshooting calls, technician visits, and the monthly salary of a call center rep. Get with your Google Analytics person and social media monitoring person (#3) to see if you have seen an increase in social media activity. Chances are, the latter had an effect on the former, so count these savings as a win. If you spent $1,000, but saved $3,000 in a month, your ROI is $2,000.

Or, more importantly, if we combine the two, you spent $1,000, and made/saved $6,500, your ROI is $5,500.

Use Social Media Monitoring Services to Measure How Happy Your Customers Are

Radian6, Lithium Technologies, Sysomos, are some of the biggest social media monitoring services around (they’re all subscription-based services, so expect to pay a fee), and if you’re a larger brand, it’s worth doing. If you have a small company, set up a free listening post with tools like a Twitter search (like a TweetDeck column), SocialMention.com and/or Google Analytics to see what people are saying about you. Quickly respond to any complaints or queries, and make sure you’re keeping people happy (see #2 above).

Happy customers are returning customers. Measure the sales of returning customers, especially those who have complained in the past, but you managed to keep by solving their problems, and compare that to the amount you paid for the social media monitoring service, and you’ve got your ROI.

We’re hopefully moving beyond the “social media is all about the conversations” way of thinking, at least in the business world. While this was cool and froody back in 2008, businesses are starting to use this as a new marketing channel. For those companies who want to make money this way, it’s real simple: just measure how much you made, how much you saved, and whether your customers like you.

If you can’t answer these questions, quit playing Farmville and go find someone who can answer it for you.

Three Secrets to Improve Your Klout Score

I was checking out Klout’s new beta layout, and liked how easy it was to see and understand. It really helped me get an understanding on how the whole system worked. And it made me realize I was on the right track with some of my strategies to improve my Klout.

I’m sure some people wonder why Klout is even important, or will dismiss it as nothing more than a popularity contest. But think of it as a way to show off your social media chops — quantifiable proof that you are awesome. Some marketers are even using Klout as a way to reach special influencers with their promotions. I’ve personally gotten some cool swag from TV studios that want me to watch their shows. Audi asked several Klouters to test drive their new A8, and TBS gave Sony PSP 3000s to key influencers. Plus, right or wrong, some employers are basing hiring decisions on Klout scores.

So here are three secrets you can use to improve your Klout score.

1. Reduce the number of followers.

This seems counter-intuitive at first, but it makes sense when you realize that one of Klout’s scores is your Amplification Probability, or “the likelihood that your content will be acted upon.” The more followers you have who are not acting on your tweets, the lower this score will be.

Think of it this way: if you have 2,000 followers, and 20 of them retweet something you send, you have a 1% retweet rate. But let’s say you drop that to 1,000 followers — eliminating people who haven’t used Twitter in a few months, spammers, and abandoned accounts — and you still get those 20 retweets, you now have a 2% retweet rate. Your Amplification Probability rate has doubled.

Tactic: Use ManageFlitter.com to find all people who have not tweeted within the last 2 months or longer, and unfollow them. This will get rid of the people who aren’t contributing anything to you, and cut out all the deadwood. They’re adding to your Following count, but aren’t doing anything at all, except dragging the value of your network down.

Tactic #2: Make sure you’re actually creating interesting stuff that people want to act on. See Secret #3 for more on that.

2. Engage mostly with people who are likely to engage with you.

Klout measures your True Reach, which is an indication of how engaged your network is. If they’re engaged with their own networks and are talking with people, not blasting and broadcasting, this adds value to your network, especially if they respond to you. It means they’re real people, not bots, not spammers, and not celebrities.

This doesn’t mean you should only follow people who are following you. There are some people who may have valuable information you want to get, and if you ignore them, you could be missing some important stuff. But it means you need to be selective about those people you follow. Don’t just follow people because you think they might be interesting. Be sure.

Tactic: I hate to say it, but drop all the celebrities you’re following (keep your favorite one or two). Also drop the news networks you’re not paying attention to. Block & Report for Spam anyone who is spamming out junk. And unfollow anyone whose sole Twitter contribution is nothing but motivational quotes. One or two quotes a day is fine, but when there are 10 a day, and nothing else, they don’t need to be in your Twitter stream.

Tactic #2: Use ManageFlitter to identify those people, and then use Formulists.com to keep that list clean. Formulists will show you people who have unfollowed you. Use the “Recently Unfollowed Me” list a few times a week to identify those spammers. It’s also a common tactic of spammers to follow a bunch of people, get those people to follow back, and then unfollow everyone. This lets them artificially boost their number. But Formulists lets you spot those people

Tactic #3: Pay close attention to your new followers. Don’t automatically follow everyone back. Ignore people who don’t have an avatar, a bio, or talk about helping people make money in their bio.

3. Make an impression on influencers.

I once asked Jason Falls what the secret was to getting a lot of readers on a blog, and he said, “Write good shit.” If you read his Social Media Explorer blog, you get a daily dose of good stuff, sometimes two or three articles in a single day. Doug Karr does the same thing with his Marketing Tech blog.

If you want to reach influencers — people with high Klout scores — you need to be innovative. Write about new ideas, new tools, new strategies, new ways of thinking. You can’t just aggregate the same old stuff that everyone else has seen.

Strategy: (This point is a whole strategy, not just a simple tactic). Your blog is the hub of your personal branding campaign. It needs to rock. You need to write your own good shit, and get a lot of people to notice it. If you get a lot of people interested in what you’re talking about, it will eventually catch the interest of the other influencers. As they catch on, your stuff will spread, and your Network Influence will grow.

Tactic: Get to know the influencers, offline if possible. Attend conferences and networking events. Have coffee or lunch with them. Interact with them online too. Set up your TweetDeck or Hootsuite app with columns and lists so you can keep track of your industry’s influencers. When you read their tweets, respond where appropriate.

Tactic #2: Don’t be afraid to ask your influencers to retweet your stuff once in a while. Don’t make it a regular thing. Once a week is probably too much. Once a month is okay. But — and this is a big one — make sure you’re retweeting their stuff a whole lot more. It shows that you have an interest in them and believe in what they say. While they don’t have to do it for you in return, it shows that you’re a giving person, which means other people will do it for you too. This is another reason you need to retweet those up-and-comers too — the people who have a lower score and less popularity than you.

This is not about gaming the system. This is about being a good social media citizen. If you tweet and write interesting stuff, maintain a strong network, make valuable contributions, and don’t feed the jackasses, your Klout score will naturally rise.

But if you engage in bad behavior like trying to artificially gain followers, tricking people into retweeting your stuff, or contributing nothing whatsoever of value (looking at you, random motivational quote generators!), then your Klout score will sink like a stone.