KRED, KLOUT & the Value of Noise

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Social media is the ‘new denim’ and in principle there is nothing wrong with that. There will always be an innovation or a new concept which drives our business environment forward , we need change to grow so all is well.

Throw in a little bit of human nature and things get more than a little interesting!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a new debating site I was evaluating….to date it is less than impressive with regard to the quality and subject matter being discussed. Too much esoteric and altruistic stuff in my opinion , almost as if people are posting questions which they have spent a whole day crafting for fear of looking poorly educated. I decided to post a few of questions around the topics of governmental finance, time spent on-line and football or soccer as some call it. Surprise! The responses to the football question came back faster and more plentifully than the others….well no, I wasn’t surprised at all because there are some things that just work every time whenever we try them…….like denim!

I am not sure if I have the stomach to stay with this site as it grows into something useful, my suspicion is that it will become a site for mischief makers and extremists who like to shock. Time will tell.

I also use another social site where a mixture of people post ideas, reactions and photos……again , there are some who are prolific and some who are more measured. Some are trying to engage and learn and some who are …..well……. posting anything just to be there…..
as always there are those who have assumed positions of authority and those who are happy to place themselves at their feet…whatever floats your boat!

Sure , social media and the need to use it are embedded in our business practices now from high level corporate companies down to small one person operations trying to get some traction… problem now is to not only understand who to listen to , how to engage with them but also to decide whether to engage and listen to them…sorting the wheat from the chaff has never been more important.

I use social media to a small degree, more for general interest in what is happening around the world than to prospect for business. I shy away from the ‘gather followers at all costs’ approach. Funnily enough , today I have been bombarded by someone on Twitter telling me to ‘get 3000 followers today , like I did’….. so I had a quick look…..she had 1752 followers! So either she is economical with the truth or runs several different accounts under other names…either way I DO NOT WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH SOMEONE LIKE THAT!

I mean , what is the point?

My Twitter following is extremely limited, I have grown my list by looking at each contact individually and deciding if I can learn from them, they can learn from me, whether we have a common interest or not…based on that I either follow or go on to the next. This method is growing things ‘organically’ and in my opinion and that of all of us at 3rd Planet Media is the only long term way to succeed at this game. Let’s be sure to acknowledge…this is a game, not anything more at this stage of proceedings.

So a few weeks ago I came across KLOUT and KRED…you will probably already be aware of them and perhaps surprised that I have only recently come across them…well it is a big world out there and when you are working with clients sometimes the luxury of surfing presents itself less frequently than you realise! No matter , they are both interesting in as much they focus on engagement….great , we like that!

Are we starting to look at the quality of what is happening out there?

Hold on a moment…. we are not there yet, we may well get there but not in the next few years IMHO.

I started to look at the people with whom I had made connections, remember I have connected with people who fulfil the earlier criteria, some were highly rated and some not. The contribution they made was and is generally consistently similar…it is just that to be a ‘big gun’ you have to be a……… ‘big gun’!

So what does it take to be a ‘big gun’?

Well primarily you have to be prolific , have lots of followers and have an opinion on most things…whatever it is! I have found some people regurgitating the cheesy stuff from inside greetings cards by the yard and posting it as ‘insightful’ and ‘motivational’. That is no good to me , no good to my contacts and does nothing to help people improve their business understanding….it does however keep the aforementioned high in the charts as ‘influencers’ and the like.

Look carefully at some of the ‘big guns’ and you will see they utter very few original posts demonstrating their brain power… often they are kings of the rhetorical question….whatever!

Is it just me or is there an inherent flaw in this system? No doubt we would all like to be regarded as influencing lots of people but I like to think that that influence should be based upon actual help in growing a better business AND NOTHING ELSE!

Now, before you send out the posse to get me and tell me that ‘social media’ is about being social…… fine but it will not be worth anything if it does not distinguish between ‘noise’ and quality contributions. I performed a little experiment late one night by posting a detailed comment in reply to a post on one of these sites…being a politically minded post originally I thought it might get some response. I was careful not to be partisan or inflammatory but instead focused on a matter of detail rather than the emotion the post created. 

Well, knock me down with a feather! It only took three comments to receive a bitchy bad tempered reply from someone who could not justify their own myopic view, instead telling me to ‘pound sand’.

What did I prove , other than the fact that the young man in question is not someone who is in danger of making a considered decision about anything soon? I think I proved that ‘noise is popular’ on social media and that is and will be an issue as we go forward.

Secondly , I proved that my engagement score went up on both KLOUT and KRED , it also went up when my wife accidentally used MY Twitter account on my phone rather than her own and re-tweeted one of my tweets …so in effect I can push my score up by impressing myself! Cool , worries over…..I am soon to be a ‘big gun’!

The worrying thing to note here is that these things are not things which pertain to MY business…I was just shooting the breeze and in the case of my wife’s postings …unaware!

Now, my other beef with ‘social media’ is the automated posting syndrome particularly obvious on Twitter…how utterly boring and predictable…really? Don’t dare tell me you how to care about customers and engage on a personal level by spewing out a list of posts which are repeated regularly to the point that for some it is possible to accurately predict the next post! We have to sleep and work , we don’t expect to see a posting every fifteen minutes…in fact we prefer the ‘less is more’ approach. When things get noisy, what do we do?

We turn off!

I tried another experiment with one of these serial automated post merchants ….I replied directly questioning the rationale behind these stale automated posts…..guess what? Correct!!!! I got nothing back…… surprised? Not…. likely to do business with or recommend this person…..definitely not, more likely to warn people off….. welcome to the ‘social media own goal’ being scored on a daily basis by a company near you!

If you resemble this guy then think seriously about whether you really need to be ‘socialising’ as much as you do, chances are you are making more ‘noise’ than anything….

Unless you are the Dalia Lama, Ashton Kutcher or Rhianna , you will have to grow your followers organically and actually work on the social side of the relationship by conversing with them in real time.

If you have nothing to add , nothing to illuminate or nothing to share……. be quiet and enjoy what peace there is in silence.

When you do speak , be genuine and ‘in the moment’… respond to what is happening and actually help people….it is no more than that. Remember that even if , like me, you are not a ‘big gun’ you still have something to say and what you say carries no more or less merit because it comes from you. If you have forgotten what it is like to be ‘in the moment’ and how to connect with passion and humor look at this guy….what about him for your next leader, wouldn’t it be fun!!!

see you on the long and winding road…….Patrick

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