Return on Influence

In Mark Schaefer’s new book “Return on Influence“, the Introduction starts with a simple statement that is profound to those of us who are obsessed with social metrics.  “I have become a number.”  I’ve been hunting for any substantive read that disseminates fundamental information and analysis of social media metrics.  Most of the information I’ve come across in blogs and opinion pieces have substantial bias and are based on single source.  In Mark’s book, you get to hear the perspective of over 50 experts.

By way of full disclosure, I’m very grateful to have been included in that list of 50 experts (and flattered to see excerpts from this blog in the book). The list of people interviewed for this book is quite long, so instead of mentioning names here, I’ve built a “Return on Influence” list on Twitter for those of you interested in tracking.  So this self-serving blog post is full of bias…and yes, it’s from a single source!

For those of you that are social newbies or just getting started in your venture to understand social metrics, Return on Influence provides information from multiple perspectives.  It allows you to navigate the world of Klout and Peerindex, while absorbing perspective from experts and analysts alike.  Chapter Seven details conversations with Joe Fernandez (CEO of Klout) relating the concept and idea behind “the secret sauce“.  For those of you who fall in the experienced category, Return on Influence provides a fantastic perspective from social media experts like Jay Baer, Robert Scoble and Mitch Joel.

Pick up a copy today at Amazon and read for yourself!

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How My #Klout Won Me a Trip to Vegas

Okay…slightly misleading title there…I haven’t won the trip yet. It should be titled “How My #Klout Might Help Me Win a Trip to Vegas”.  I hope to win soon!  See, @Somegoco has an internal contest currently to see who can achieve the highest Klout metric as of August 31, 2011.  The member with the highest number gets a free trip to Las Vegas!  I’m competing with a worthy opponent for this title, and he is no slouch!  I’m currently (in second place) at a 63 (as of 8/25/2011) and my “Master of Retweets” opponent (in first place) is at 64.  While the difference is small in number, the difference between the two of us, and our approach to social media, is massive.  The differences will be described after August 31 (can’t give away the Colonel’s Recipe quite yet).

When I first checked Klout to see what they thought of my social media presence, my number was at 32.  I immediately took to the socialwaves to learn more about these metrics.  As my blog has noted over the past few weeks, I’ve learned many lessons from all of you and would like to share a little.  I’ve doubled my Klout in this period of time.

1. Absolutely Amplify – Your tweets and posts must be heard and read by many.  You must learn to engage on an exponential level.  Engaging in a manner that is purely linear yield liner results.  Are you engaging dialog with people who present an opportunity for amplification?  You must engage with relevant parties that can help you be explosive. Important!

2. Engage Directly – Make your conversation genuine. Don’t set auto replies for your new followers.  Engage them directly with a thank you and acknowledgement.  In doing so, I’ve met many new sources of information that have been invaluable.

3. Expand Your Network – Talk to new people everyday. And talk to them again the next day. Open your network to new possibilities.  Many of us operate in an isolated chamber where you are engaging people you are already comfortable with.  Break out of that box and talk to others.  Don’t be a wallflower.  (Don’t make unnecessary noise…Noise Annoys…)

4. Amplify – Okay, this one is uber important; therefore it deserves another mention.  How can you travel at the speed of light through the Twitterverse without the ability to amplify?  Learn more about the parties that your’e engaging, understand their networks, and discover relevant areas to participate.

5. Find Your Relevant Stream – Identify the streams and Twitter chats that are relevant to your area or domain of expertise.  Participate, share and discuss.  You might find yourself hopping from one hashtag to another, but eventually, you will find your community and create one in the process.

Playing within this simple system will enable you to grow your Klout score.  It may seem like you’re “gaming the system” but the truth is that the above activities will likely yield relevant and quality points of contact.  For those of you who decry gaming metrics, open up to the idea that engaging this philosophy for a few days might take you into corners of value that you never knew existed.

Engage me on Twitter! My shameless plot to promote viral activity has no bounds!  Tweet me, RT me, reply to me – HELP ME! @nmodali - I want to know more about how you are increasing your Klout!  And I want to go to Vegas! I’ll be sure to write more about my discoveries in the weeks to come. Most of all, I plan on having more fun learning in this space.

BTW, if you’re interested in learning more about Social Analytics, drop me a note.  We can compare notes and chat about fun tools and toys like @Crowdbooster, @Twylah, @Triberr and @Klout!

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#Klout Hits 60, Now What? #Crowdbooster

My Klout addiction has reached new heights this past week.  I’ve really been trying to drive various types of activity on Twitter and Facebook to effectively increase my Klout. Don’t be misled though…my activity is not all “inorganic” noise.  I’ve managed to meet a ton of smart people and engage in thought provoking streams.  I’ve found people to follow in corners previously unexplored.

My Klout score hit 60 this morning (actually 59.7, but i’ll say 60).  So what am I doing to discover smarter paths to engagement?  Along comes Crowdbooster…according to their intro “Crowdbooster measures how well you are performing on Twitter and Facebook and provides insights that make you more effective.”  I couldn’t help myself – so I signed up and two days later, Crowdbooster started delivering metrics and advice.

Crowdbooster essentially tells me to engage specific followers with high Klout scores.  For the most part, all of my recommendations have been to connect with folks who have recently followed me, and have Klout topics similar to mine (not all that surprising).  I started engaging these folks in dialog and immediately saw quick daily spikes in Klout score.  More importantly, I was finding people that I genuinely wanted to engage in real dialog – people that made sense to me.

The analytics are interesting as well.  The first metric you see, after the list of recommendations delivered, is a graph mapping total tweet impressions by number of retweets.  I was surprised to see that despite my small following of 600, I was seeing impression counts into the 40k and 50k numbers.  I always figured that in theory, I must be hitting those figures, but to see it on a graph and articulated by specific tweet was interesting.

Additional analysis includes follower growth and a listing of influential followers and top retweeters.  All of these were interesting but the recommendations and the analytics graph were the most fun to dig through.

The site offers some other standard functionality you find through other apps like scheduled tweets and url shortening.

I’ve still got invites – tweet me @nmodali for one!

My mission continues down the same path.  I’m interested in engaging meaningful dialog on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook!  Let’s continue to learn more about social influence and what it means in this new world.

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My Growing #Klout Addiction

I’m having a blast tracking my Klout score!  I login when I get up and check the pop-up window that says “Congratulations, you’re score has improved by…”.  Totally dig this. I don’t know why.  But I’m extremely competitive about it, especially with my pals @KevinFawley, @LewisPoretz and @NaveenK22.  For a person driven by numbers and logic, I’m completely thrilled by a number that has absolutely no definition.  My Klout is currently 57.  The temperature in the room I’m sitting in is 74.  Only one of those numbers has any REAL meaning to me.  Yet, I’m far more concerned about the other…although it’s pretty hot outside right now.

Sometimes I check in earlier than the update…and I’m disappointed to learn that the score has yet to change!  My #Klout addiction is growing by leaps and bounds.  So I grab a cup of #coffee and check the #usguys stream for a bit, brush my teeth, shower/shave, and check again.  After I see my updated score, I usually check back once or twice in the morning again to inquire as to any new topics of influence or +K awards.  Later in the afternoon, I carefully ration out my 5 +Ks for the day.  Then I engage a conversation in the #klout50 or #kloutdebate stream  and hypocritically argue with people about whether a Klout score is even relevant!  Perhaps my next blog post will revolve around the 12 incremental steps required to rid yourself of these habits.

I’m especially happy to report that Klout has deemed me influential about subjects like Las Vegas, Money and Photography.  No one else has ever thought so. Even better, several of my friends and followers have deemed me worthy of a +K in various subjects, though I’m told that the Klout scoring algorithm doesn’t account for this.  But I dig that too.  So I give them a +K in a subject that I don’t really deem them all that influential in either.  I return the favor.

I’ve now connected my Foursquare account to Klout as well.  I’m now furiously checking in whenever I can, trying to one-up my newfound friends.  I just checked in at the Sunoco gas station on the way home a little while ago.  Of course I was just at the traffic light, but who could pass up on the 5 points??

After connecting to Foursquare, within 24 hours, my score went from 57 to 49.  I’m not sure if there was any correlation, but I was distressed when I saw this.  Forget the mortgage payment and family vacation, my thoughts were on this disastrous drop in Klout.  WTF?  I tweeted away and sure enough, 24 hours later, I was back at 57.  Perhaps the Klout folks saw my panic-laden tweets and fixed it?  No idea, but I was relieved.

Why are we so attached to Klout?  Am I the only one?  I don’t think so.  I watch the #klout and #kloutdebate streams.  I see everyone tweeting about their newfound expertise per Klout.  People seem to be experiencing the same thing as me and I suspect they are also checking their score every morning.   Just a month ago, my score was at 37.  I went on a mission to push that score higher and did it through engaging Twitter like I had never done before.

The ramp from 37 to 57 over the past month represents a period where I’ve learned more about social media than ever.  From 37 to 57, I started engaging various streams where knowledge is shared freely.  I found about 300 additional followers, many of whom were from the #usguys world.  I engaged the #kloutdebate weekly and found a few more engaged followers who challenged me.  These past 20 points have represented a wild learning curve…maybe Klout makes sense.  Perhaps Klout is my personal game where I push myself to learn, and my score improves.

I’m on a mission to understand how my continued social immersion will impact my Klout score.  I want to see if the propagation of my intellectual curiosity (i.e. this blog post) will result in an improved Klout score.  So here’s my cheap ploy – engage me, follow me, connect with me, talk to me, argue with me…and learn with me.    I’m measuring some statistics as well and will report my findings. This algorithm can’t be that tough to crack can it??

Watch my Klout score with me – http://klout.com/#/nmodali

UPDATE 4 – 7/21/2011 10:46 PM Eastern – So now it’s nearing the end of the day.  How much can I engage to influence where my score lands tmrw?  I also just noted the new tenths decimal point in the scoring – i’m at a 57.6!  But my big window still says 58, and I’ll take it.  Need to get to 60.

UPDATE 3 – 7/21/2011 2:44 PM Eastern – OK, the graph is finally updated as well, so my precise score is actually 57.56, with rounding Klout gives me a 58.  My neurotic cycle for the day has closed.  Time to engage.

UPDATE 2 – 7/21/2011 10:06 AM Eastern – OK, so the wait is over.  Accomplished the basic morning tasks and KAZAAM! My score is now 58.

UPDATE 1 – 7/21/2011 5:41 AM Eastern – This is one of those moments where I’ve logged on first thing, only to note that the score has yet to update.  Will check-in later.  I seem to have picked up about 50 followers in the last 24 hours, an approximately 10% increase.

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How #usguys Helps Me Understand the Power of Twitter

With some guidance and nudging from Kevin Fawley (@kevinfawley) and Lewis Poretz (@lewisporetz), I started fine-tuning my efforts with Twitter and swam in the #usguys stream this past week on Tweetdeck.  The experience was pretty exceptional and really helped mature my understanding of social media.  Watching the flow of information in real-time is truly a treat, and my perceptions were enhanced exponentially.

For those of you who are living in the #usguys space, my thoughts may seem elementary. But for those who are trying to put their hands around Twitter, social media, and the inflection point we’re experiencing, this may be informational.

For those who are utilizing Twitter and simply using the web interface, please take this important step of engaging a tool to curate the data that’s streaming through.  I have been using Tweetdeck, and it allows me to create multiple columns that have specific sorting criteria.  This delivers real-time results to me and allows me to track certain groups or subjects.  My initial approach to Twitter involved logging into the web interface on Safari, Chrome or IE…and watching a single strand of data unfold in front of me.  I often wondered why people would follow thousands of people, since the data stream was singular and difficult to cull.  No so anymore…

On Tuesday evening, I started watching and gradually engaging in the #usguys hashtag.  This group consists of folks that are interested in exchanging ideas and thoughts on social marketing, customer care, social media and all things related.  The beauty of this group is that it consists of people from all walks of industry and life…and substantial seniority at that…but it’s an environment that truly cultivates the mind of people who want to learn.  i.e. There is no dumb question.  It’s a great group of people learning and sharing.

Even more so than the quality of the group itself, the simple act of engaging a Twitter stream helped me better understand the dynamic we are watching unfold.  As my good friend Naveen Krishnamurthy (@naveenk22), Head Egghead at SoMeGo,  said to me the other day, we’re living the Matrix!  Sitting in front of these rapidly populated streams of data gives you a sense of unending possibility. On Wednesday Lewis and Kevin mentioned a couple other hashtags that I might be interested in chatting, and sure enough, I had three or four columns of data flying past my eyes – totally engaged.

For all of you that I talk to via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter about social media, I encourage you to take this simple step to really put your hands around the enormity of Twitter.  Please tell me what you’re finding, learning and getting excited about.  And of course, do what I do – follow these guys – Kevin, Lewis and Naveen.

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India’s Social Media and Mobile Intersection

In my recent trip to India, I spent time exploring Hyderabad.  Spending time with family was a priority, but I also whipped out my antiquated “smartphone” (Blackberry Torch) and started plugging in on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other social streams.  I learned a lot in a short period of time…in addition to my need to upgrade to a real smartphone!

1. The 3G access across Hyderabad was substantially better than what I get in Ashburn, Virginia or even downtown DC.  I was blown away by the widespread availability, even deep in the concrete confines of office buildings and on the outskirts of town.

2. Foursquare was remarkably accurate in identifying my location.  Clearly the user base has marked out the venues, but the information available at each site was quite robust.  Restaurant reviews, hotel info, wi-fi pointers and such were readily available by jumping on to Foursquare.  When I was in front of the Hyderabad City Jail, I thought it would be fun to check-in and post to Twitter so my friends stateside would get a laugh.

3. Everyone is on their mobile phone.  EVERYONE.  We all know that texting and driving is dangerous.  Imagine all the motorcycle and scooter traffic in India using their phones and riding…crazy!   Folks definitely rely on their mobile infrastructure.

4. I visited HITEC city where the IT industry has exploded in Hyderabad.  I spent some time with a couple of social developer outfits there and learned quite a bit.  Many of these firms are utilizing Facebook and LinkedIn to enable their hiring activities and recruit the best talent.  Also of note, Facebook’s Hyderabad office has about 100 employees as of March 2011 – projected to be 1500 employees within 3 years.

5. With the rapidly growing consumer economy in India, geolocation is an interesting prospect. With the amount of detail already available in GIS data via mobile phones, the implications could be huge for India.  Luxury brands are everywhere – Harley-Davidson, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Jaguar, Audi, etc. Groupon has already landed and started proliferating.  Predictive analytics could prove more robust in a large market like India with so much use of mobile.

When I was a kid, I used to spend my summers in India.  About this time of the year, when school was wrapping up, I’d get on a flight and spend two and a half months struggling to find out who won the NBA Finals.  Fast forward twenty-five years and now information is accessible everywhere…and possibly more readily available than when I’m back home in Northern Virginia.  Today, I could simply watch the game live on my phone.

If you’re a professional athlete using social media to better enable your personal brand, I’d love to learn more about what you’re doing.  Please find me on Twitter @nmodali and LinkedIn.

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Interested in Social Media? 5 People to Follow

If you’re interested in expanding your social horizons, here are some users you must follow (in no particular order):

Susan Clark – @Susan_Clark – Susan’s Twitter feed is absolutely an interesting read.  You will find an eclectic mix of links to articles and information all day long about happenings in the social world.  If you’re learning to be “social”, you need to follow Susan.

Sue Reynolds – @suereynolds – Sue’s tips throughout the day are fantastic for businesses looking to learn more about leveraging social media.  Her tips have meaning and substance.

Kristy Bolsinger – @kristy – Kristy is a social business consultant with an “ant’s eye view”.  One of her posts today was about choosing a Social Media Manager for your business.  As a side-note, if you’re on Empire Avenue, her stock ticker is KRISTY and definitely worth a look!

Kevin Fawley – @KevinFawley – Kevin’s a young and bright talent in the social media space.  I spent a couple hours with him this month and learned quite a bit.  I’ve been following him for a month now and the content has value!

Marcus Nelson – @marcusnelson – Marcus is the Director of Social Media for Salesforce.com.  I’ve been a lurker on his Twitter feed for a while.  I’ve learned a ton about marketing and social media by following him.

If you’re a professional athlete using social media to better enable your personal brand, I’d love to learn more about what you’re doing.  Please find me on Twitter @nmodali and LinkedIn.

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