Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore the iPad

I’m pleased to offer you a guest post, by “The App Man” – Rick Yeager.

Great! A post by a long-time Apple fanboy on why everyone has to bow down to Apple and love their overpriced tablet. This should be fun.

Before you run off, give me a few paragraphs.I know not everyone is entranced by the haunting glow of the iPad’s Retina display and there are even a few out there that will avoid iTunes, iPods and anything else that starts with a lowercase “i” and ends with a ®. I get that. Apple and its users can be a bit obnoxious. The problem is, they’re also pretty ubiquitous and their numbers are growing.I mean, “iPad” is quickly becoming the eponym for all touchscreen tablet computers. It’s the Kleenex of its niche market, and whether you like the iPad or not, it’s users are your customers.

In November 2011, Net Applications revealed its findings that Apple’s iOS accounted for 61.64% of mobile web traffic for the previous month. Mobile traffic is big and the iPhone and iPad are a big part of it. You don’t have to like the iPad, but you’d be foolish to ignore it.

Be kind to the iPad

How can you make sure you don’t alienate your iPad wielding customers?

To make your website iPad friendly…

• Dump Adobe Flash:
There are apps out there that will convert Flash content to HTML5 but that’s not your customer’s job—it’s yours.

• Simplify Navigation:
Mouse-over web navigation that would reveal submenus when the user hovered his mouse over a button were all the rage not that long ago, but it’s hard to “mouse-over” when you don’t have a cursor much less a mouse.

• Consider how your site looks in BOTH portrait and landscape:
Fluid-width layouts and adaptive web layouts will allow your website to practically lay itself out to accommodate any screen in any orientation. It looks like magic, but your customer won’t notice—they’ll be too busy enjoying your website and buying your products.

• If you must, create a special “mobile” website:
for some, being iPad-friendly means a complete overhaul of their website and content. I feel your pain. But as the iOS userbase continues to increase, you’ll be better off serving those users as customers than handing them over to your competition.

• Get an iPad:
Seriously. When web developers what to test websites, they test on multiple machines on multiple web browsers. Why should it be any different when developing for mobile? Find someone with an iPhone too.

Looking to earn bonus points?

The step beyond simply making sure your site can be viewed on the iPad, is to actually build a site with iPads in mind.

• Create a special mobile website that functions as an app:
Gmail, Amazon’s Cloud Reader and Twitter are a great example of this. All three have official apps in the iPad App Store, but if you navigate to their websites in mobile Safari, you’ll fine that each of their mobile sites function as if they were native iPad apps.

Whether you believe it or not, it’s being predicted that very soon mobile web traffic will far surpass desktop web surfing. If that turns out to be true, it won’t be long before what I’m offering here for “bonus points” will be a necessity for business.

You don’t have to like Apple or the iPad, but don’t ignore it either. It has the potential to bring you a lot of business if you use it to your advantage while your competitors are still perfecting their Flash sites.

Rick Yaeger, AKA “The App Man,” makes it his business to help you get the most out of your Apple devices. He can be found at appman.tv. Follow him on Twitter @RickMacMerc

Q&A – How to Manage a Client Database and Registration Process

I got a FABULOUS question from “Dee” on the LKR Members Forum (if you haven’t seen it, check out her Social Media Marketer program + special member’s forum) about client surveys and databases, and couldn’t resist sharing.

Dee writes:
I am in the middle of setting up my coaching business and wondered if you can recommend a database/software system to use which compiles registration forms from potential clients, who submit their name email address and a questionnaire on my site in order to book a free coaching consultation.

I would also like to have a system in place which stores client information, synopsis on sessions etc.

GREAT Question!

This is a very common request and there are definitely a million was to solve this.

For most of us, however, it just doesn’t make business sense to use expensive uni-tasking software apps for EVERY aspect of our business, it’s not realistic for most of us to afford enterprise-class software applications, and most of us probably prefer not to spend the time and money on custom development. These are the “traditional” ways to get this solved, which is why “the big boys” are so big, and why many solopreneurs and small business typs feel “stuck”

Who can afford all that, right?

WELL – it’s time for a paradigm shift!

As technology rapidly progresses, it’s getting easier and easier to solve our problems the same way “the big boys” do it. We can have databases, analytics, tracking, automated marketing, and much of the technology that was previously unavailable. As Seth Godin says, “the lever is getting longer” – we’re able, as small business types, to stop being small businesses, and to start being SMART businesses. We now have the technology. We now have the resources.

And the best part? We’re WAY faster and more flexible than any establishment with layers of costs and decision-makers.

NOW — the solution.

Dee – if you’re not already using this, I highly recommend it (And everybody else). — GOOGLE APPS.

1) Go to http://www.google.com/apps — click on PRICNG — and select the one that is best for you (The FREE version will work best for the majority of us. I use the free.)

2) Follow thier step-by-step directions. You or your webmaster (and/or hosting company) will have to change your email servers (MX Records), and/or install a file or some script into your website. If you cannot complete this step, your favorite web techy can help.

3) You’re done.

WHAT YOU GET:

Your business’s email will now run through google’s GMAIL system – BUT- you will retain your (@yourdomain.com) address. I use it and my email is an @getcultstatus.com (not @gmail.com) — but the back-end looks just like gmail.

INSIDE of google apps (and also inside a traditional gmail account), there is a “Google Documents” link that lets you store create and upload spreadsheets and databases. It also lets you create web forms to drag/drop onto your site; so, when someone goes to your site and fills out the questionnaire, it saves in a spreadsheet in your Google Docs.

THE WAY TO PULL THIS OFF

Dee- the way to pull this off in your situation would be to

1) create a client info spreadsheet/form in google docs

2) Create a new page in your wordpress site (or other), switch to “HTML MODE” instead of visual, and paste in the form code from google. Publish the page.

3) On your opt-in and/or sales/services page, have a link/button that says “Book My Free Appointment” which links to the page where your form will sit.

As always, you can download, save, export, etc. the data from your spreadsheet into any other program you use from there (or print it out, or just store it securely in Google’s cloud)

Benefits: It’s free, it’s relatively quick and easy to set-up (either for you or for your tech person), and it gets you most of the functionality you’re looking for.

Draw-backs: It may not have every feature or do everything you want, but it’s great for 99% of small businesses and solopreneurs.

If you require anything beyond this level of awesomeness, your next steps are to look at Industry-Specific software (there are a billion niche softere companies that do client-management for specific industries. since they know your industry best, they’ll often have the best solution available to you), OR to do a custom build out.

In my very extensive research and experience, the rule of thumb I like to use is to:

1) Figure out the IDEAL functions you want

2) See what the free and open-source options are

3) See what boutique solutions are

4) Ask yourself, is the free “good enough for now?” // if now, is the paid version “good enough” for now?

5) IFF the previous two solutions are not enough, seek a consultant or developer to figure out the problem for you.

YOU’RE A BUSINESS – your time is best spent working on business things. Stuff like this makes life easier, but the longer you deliberate about it, the longer you’re spending away from your biz. Do what you do best. Use the “good enough” solution until you out-grow it or can pay for better.

Thanks for the great question!!

Are You Fearless?

Hi Everybody,

I just wanted to invite you to see my interview as part of the Soul*Full Summit, hosted by Catherine Just.

The Summit deals with fearlessness and how we, as entrepreneurs, encounter and manage fear. As many of us know, fear can be a great motivator, it can be the voice in your head that prevents you from seizing opportunity, and it can be that thing that saves you from disaster. Most people have a really complex relationship with fear because of this dual, good-bad complexity that fear brings to the table.

The Soul*Full Summit is a FREE online summit that encounters and talks about how to overcome fear, how to look at it, and provides perspective on how entrepreneurs can live with (or without) it. Join me (and 23 other awesome thinkers!). 

(T-shirts available for purchase! – Catherine put a lot of tim and effort into this, so DO help support if you can! – they shirts are really cool too!) 

My interview is airing today. Check it out Here: http://www.catherinejust.com/the-soulfull-summit/

Twitter Hashtag: #sfsummit

Thanks! -Alex

Marketing Tip: Getting Your Audience to Listen and Care

One of my colleagues, Nelly Odessa of Acting for Non-Actors, made this GREAT video on how to get your audience engaged and paying attention to your marketing messages.

One of the first marketing lessons I learned (the hard and expensive way), is that you can’t just buy marketing and expect it to work (unless you have millions of dollars for a campaign, at which point a 0.5%-1% conversion rate nets an acceptable level of business). You can’t just pay for banner or newspaper ads and expect people to pay attention or care. You can’t just send emails out and hope people read them. There’s a key element to making all your marketing communications work. It’s all about engaging your audience.

What does engaging your audience mean?

Check it out!  – Getting Your Audience to Care

3 Tips to Dressing {Your Brand} For Success

I’m happy to present a guest-post from friend, Hilary Rushford

As a personal stylist for “real people with real budgets”, I’m a firm believer that we can’t underestimate the power of visual information. For my clients, that means dressing as the best version of yourself from first dates to final interviews. For fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners, that means dressing yourself and your website to represent your brand to every blog reader, inquiring journalist and potential client. Your brand should be cohesive and enticing in these 3 areas:

1. Website Branding:
This includes your font, type size, color scheme, and any graphics or photos not of yourself. Are these elements intentional and working together? What do they convey about your brand? Are you fabulously feminine, chicly vintage, uber excited, or seriously professional? How does your brand differ from your competition? Do the elements of your website reflect that?

{Ex: As a personal stylist many of my competitors are very girl-power focused. Since I have male clients, the base of my site is black, grey and white. My other competition tends to be high-fashion and high-priced. So I soften the edges of my headers and include lots of photos to make the space seem warm and inviting.}

Small Business Branding Board by Hilary Rushford on Pintrest

 

2. Online Portraits:
These are the images of you that exist on your website, about page, in your bio box for guest posts and articles, and alongside press for your company. Do your photos match the brand of your website? Are you smiling, wearing a bright color, in a suit and tie, or sporting a sarong on the beach? Your photos should make your clients want to have a drink with you tomorrow. Is that because you’re a no-nonsense woman who will give them brilliant advice in 45 minutes? Or a chill guy who’s figured out why living in an island hut is the way to go? Your clients may not need to want to be your friend, but they need to want to connect with you for whatever service you provide whether inspiring, challenging, calming, hilarious, approachable or impressive.

{Note: How many photos of you are on your website? Take a look at some of the brands and sites you like. When conducting business online where we don’t have personal interaction, people feel more engaged with and find that know/like/trust factor more easily when they know what you look like. Don’t make them hunt to the bottom of your about page, consider making your Twitter pic a photo of you vs a logo, etc.}

Business and Personal Styling and Branding by Hilary Rushford

 

3. In Person Presentation:
This is how you show up to client meetings, press interviews, speaking engagements and networking events. It’s the way you leave your house every morning, unaware of who might cross your path that you want to pitch, impress or partner with. If you’re a high-powered lawyer, that doesn’t mean you need to be in a suit 7 days a week. But if you’re running into a client wearing an old fraternity t-shirt and flip flops, they’re probably going to question paying you the big bucks to take on their case. If your angle is that you’re joyful, soulful, life-loving but you show up in boring, baggy clothes that hide who you are, you won’t instill much confidence that you’re comfortable in your own skin.

{Tip: Who would be your dream client to book, editor to pitch, idol to collaborate with? Leave your house every day in a manner confident enough to approach them if you see them in line at the grocery store.}

If you’re not naturally a visual person or don’t feel aesthetic taste is one of your strong suits, consider hiring someone for a branding consultation or get a personal stylist to help with your new profile photos or daily wardrobe. In the same way many small businesses ask for help in SEO or social media because it’s not a skill they’re an expert at, acknowledge that there are many visual people in the world, perusing a bevy of exceptional sites each day, and your aesthetics need to match the professionalism and high quality of your content and offerings. The good news is, these are changes that don’t take much time to implement, and can serve you for years to come.

For more ideas, check out my 5-part post on the branding of Dean Street Society

Hilary Rushford is the founder of Dean Street Society in Brooklyn, NY where she works as a personal stylist, branding expert and style blogger. She’s available for wardrobe edits, personal shopping and small business photo shoots or branding in person or via Skype around the world. Follow her on Twitter at @HilaryRushford and visit www.DeanStreetSociety.com.

How Hungry are You? A Starving Artist Survey – Take it!

To all who have a creative passion:

Go to http://rightbrainrockstar.com/starving-artist-survey/ and voice what you have experienced as an artist or creative. The survey is 23 questions that take 10-15 minutes to complete. You don’t have to be a professional artist to participate and your answers can remain anonymous.

The questions cover demographic information to more industry related/interesting questions (What type of artist are you? Music, Web Design, Illustrative, etc./ What percent of your total personal income was generated from your art? / What is your greatest fear as an artist?).

Take a moment today and reflect on your creative passion . . . you may learn a new marketing technique being used by others or a business weakness or hmm . . . surveys always shed light. What discovery will you make?

6 Ways to Cure Content-Starvation for Your Blog, Vlog, or Newsletter

Relationship-Marketing is and has always been the most effective of marketing.

Whether you use a Rolodex or Twitter, having a great network of contacts is ideal for any service business.

For product-based businesses, retail businesses, and business models that are more transactional, you still need that relationship. People Buy From Those That They Know, Like and Trust!

Traditionally, a printed newsletter, a church bulletin, or even a brochure served as this relationship-building tool. In today’s world of social media, the same applies. Our e-mail newsletter, our business blogs, our Facebook walls, Twitter Feeds, and the host of other places we do this (possibly still in a printed form too!) have one thing in common: THEY NEED GREAT CONTENT!

We business owners, managers, and marketers know that it’s really difficult to come up with persistently good content. It hurts sometimes. It’s okay. you can admit it! Hopefully this can be a solution for SOME of your conten-starvation woes!

6 Tips to Cure Your Content Starvation

  1. Go Back Through Your Existing Content and Find the Gems!
    Many people feel that they have to come up with new, fresh, beautiful content all the time. FACT – Most people reading your site have not been with you from the beginning. Even if they have,  they likely have not read EVERYTHING you have. Get over it. It’s okay to re-purpose content.

    ACTION STEP: Find your 10 best posts (most views, likes, comments, etc.) — Pick out topics or nuggets and expand upon them. Maybe turn a few articles into a summarized “Top-10″ and link them back to the original articles for further expansion.
  2. Read Your Blog Comments & Scan your Social Media Profiles for Common Questions, Comments, and Themes.
    Many times, your own social interactions are LOADED with great topics to write about. For example: My wife and I also own an e-commerce business that retails cloth diapers. We occasionally get good questions via Twitter and Facebook. Sometimes they are specific product questions, while other times they are reaction, such as “I prefer this feature over that one” — A great follow-up article would be to talk about the advantages of each feature over another. The help will be greatly appreciated!

    ACTION STEP: Scan through your blog and social media accounts. Find 5 potential topics to expand upon.
  3. Check Your Blog’s Tag and Category List.
    What’s missing? Is there a topic that is heavily weighted, or perhaps a category that is a little thin? What can you do to balance out the mix a bit? This should be a no-brainer.

    ACTION STEP: Find the 3, least-posted categories. Think of 2-3 topics for each category.
  4. Primary Customer Objections
    In your sales process, what is a primary objection you hear when offering a product or an upgrade? I bought windows for our Duplex a couple years ago. I lured in with a great “deal” and then promptly told that they were garbage and I should get the windows that were triple the price (Not good for their brand – They should have read this). They then tried to sell me on window wraps, gutters, and a heap of other stuff. Not the best experience. – I digress – My primary objection to the extra services were that 1) I didn’t like the hard sell. 2) I wasn’t prepared to hear about window wraps (I didn’t even know what they were). 3) It was more money than I wanted to spend, and I didn’t want to go into debt on the project. Using this as an opportunity, the company might have forwarded me to their blog, where they would have a video or article on how great window wraps are, and how they cost a little more up-front, but they save you $328 Billion dollars over the 10 years you own your home — or some such jazz. I would have been introduced to the concept, and possibly would have been persuaded.

    ACTION STEP: Find out the biggest objections in your sales cycle (either to the primary product or to the up-sell). Educate before you sell.
  5. Address Your FAQs
    What are your Frequently Asked Questions? This may overlap a little with the point above, but if people have frequent questions, you can expand with content that answers those questions. Even topics such as “How many locations do you have?” are usable for some businesses. Talk about the story of how you started with one small location, but because of your awesome customers, you now have 3 — and then name the advantages of those locations, or what’s cool about the area.

    ACTION STEP: Go through your FAQ. Note all items that can become content topics, or something you can expand upon.
  6. Ask Your Customers
    Customers Rock. Period. Seriously.  They’re often your biggest advocates, they believe in you and your mission, they’re obviously the reason you have a job and can (hopefully!!) pay the bills. What’s more? They know BEST, what kind of information they like and seek from you. Ask them what they want. They’ll tell you!

    ACTION STEP: Ask 5 Customers or Clients for some great content ideas.

Now Go and Write Great Content!

The six content-starvation tips should really help you with your marketing efforts. If you follow those action steps, you should have enough content for the next quarter. Trust Me.

Don’t forget to comment below, give me a shout on Twitter or Facebook to let me know what your great content-creation ideas are!

Go get ‘em, Tiger!

5 Steps to Abolish Painful Meetings

I’m happy to present a guest-post from friend, Briana Borten. 

Get ready to be rejuvenated! In this article, you will learn my patented method for sleeping with your eyes open. It’s guaranteed to fool 9 out of 10 of your coworkers during tedious meetings that seem to accomplish nothing. You snooze, they lose!

No, wait, I have a method that is even better! I will instead teach you to make meetings engaging and effective. The best part is, at the end of the meeting, you are much less likely to have drool on your chin than with the first method. Here’s what to do:

1. Have a goal. It seems pretty obvious, yet it’s often overlooked. The goal needs to be specific and measurable so that you know if it’s been achieved at the end of the meeting. You also need to communicate the goal to everyone present, preferably before the meeting starts. If you don’t have a goal for a meeting, don’t bother having the meeting

2. Create an agenda and send it out 2 days before  the meeting.  Your agenda should include the following information:

  • Topic
  • Subtopics. Presenters should be told how exactly much time they will have for each subtopic, and the Time Keeper (see below) should have a chart showing the minute-by-minute procession of the meeting (e.g., 1:00-1:05: Opening comments. 1:05-1:15: Kathy discusses ban on saggy pants. Etc.)
  • List the following four job titles and the names of the people you’ve appointed to them:
    • Presenter – usually the person that called the meeting, this person moves everyone through the agenda
    • Secretary – takes minutes and sends these to everyone after the meeting
    • Task Master – keeps the meeting on topic, reminds participants to get to the bottom line,  and tables ideas that are not on point
    • Time Keeper – keeps the meeting flowing on time according to the minutes allotted for each subtopic
  • Total duration of the meeting
  • Pre-work
  • Expected Outcome (i.e., goal)

3. Set ground rules for the meeting. For example: phones off, don’t interrupt, table off-topic conversations, no eating, try to use the bathroom beforehand and on breaks, etc.  Rather than conveying the rules in a way that sets up a power differential between the ones making the rules and everyone else, strive for a sense of common agreement. Ask the participants for additional suggestions. I have found that threatening to cut fingers off for breaking rules is not the best way to ensure compliance, because worker efficiency goes WAY downhill after a couple of fingers are gone. Instead, find a respectful way to encourage everyone to monitor themselves, and reiterate the rules after a break, if necessary.

4. Clarify action steps.  At the end of your meeting it is imperative to clarify the next action steps that must be taken, and who will be performing them. You can either go around the room and have each individual list their own, or the presenter or secretary can list them. Either way, there are 3 important details to cover:

  • Identify the action and the owner
  • Set specific details, including the date due
  • Schedule follow up

5. Review minutes. The secretary should have minutes to the team soon enough that they can review what was covered, including all the action details, while it’s still fresh for them – ideally within 24 hours.

Once you have managed to create an awesome framework for your meetings you can start making them shorter! Yeah! Most people set meetings for an hour because their calendars default to that time frame. But with a few simple steps, you can gain valuable time to do other things (like updating your Facebook status).

  • Stand up. Most people won’t linger on an issue if their feet hurt. Ask people to stand to speak, or better yet, remove chairs from the room. When standing, people are often more attentive and engaged. If there must be chairs, something not too comfortable will keep people from falling asleep. Removing one leg from each chair will also keep people on their toes.
  • Use a timer. Make the Time Keeper’s minute-by-minute agenda public and use stopwatch or the timer on your phone to stick to it. When time is up, assign next steps and move on.
  • Show the cost of the meeting. At the top of the agenda, show the calculated hourly cost of having the group together. When people realize how much a meeting costs the company, they are more apt to be efficient.

I’d love to hear what you do to keep your meetings interesting and effective. Share your comments below.

Briana Borten of The Dragontree Holistic Day Spa in Portland Oregon
Briana Borten is the owner of The Dragontree Holistic Day Spa in Portland Oregon (www.thedragontree.com and www.thedragontreepdx.com) and Imbue Pain Relief Patch (www.imbuebody.com). Her purpose in life is to create a more peaceful world starting with more peaceful individuals. Follow her on twitter @brianaborten

Is Your Site Flashy?

Adobe Flash CS5 IconDo you do Flash?

Can I get some sweet Flash on my website?

Maybe we can do this really sweet Flash Intro, where some music starts playing, and then a video plays, and then our logo explodes from the background, and then…

(and then people leave your site). These are very common questions for web designers! We get these questions all the time, and many of us (or at least the good ones) have something to say about this.

Adobe Flash: OK. It’s Kinda Cool

Visually, Flash is pretty cool. For those of you who are not familiar with Adobe Flash, it’s a tool frequently used to produce motion graphics and interactive websites and applications. There are still a lot of websites that also use it to play video, audio, and other rich media. Frankly, it has a lot of uses and is pretty neat. Historically, it was used a lot in the last 10-12 years as a way of overcoming a lot of obstacles that were either a huge pain (or impossible) to code, or they allowed designers more visual freedom.

Should My Website Have Flash?

Short Answer: probably not.

A better question is, “Should I ask my designer for flash or motion graphics?” — that is a definite, positive, okay maybe 80% – “No”

The Achilles heel of Flash is that it’s, well, flashy. By nature, we entrepreneurs and marketers want our businesses to stand out. We want to be a cut above the rest. Some of us want, or even need, to present an images that looks high-tech, expensive, or has a certain “wow factor.” –but honestly, almost every business (and I’ve been guilty myself) thinks this.

The REAL ISSUE Is..

If you want something really “flashy,” the real issue may be your marketing message. When you use motion graphics, flash, long video intros with kinetic type, what you’re really doing is shouting at your audience. Shouting is the last thing you want to do. As entrepreneurs, we really should be in the business of building relationships and making people’s lives better or easier.

Isn’t this the essence of commerce? People exchange their money, which represents their time and energy, for something they desire that somehow improves their lives.

When we use “catchy” marketing, we’re basically telling them that our product or service doesn’t sell itself; that we don’t fully believe in our products — they’re just widgets we force at people.

As entrepreneurs, we have something that a lot of our big-business counterparts don’t: we have a soul, we have hard work, we have US (or our team). Nobody does it quite like we do. The owner/CEO of YOUR company knows your clients by name, or at least by face. You talk to them.

So why shout at people with “neat” or “cool” flashy features on your website? We should really be talking to our customers with our websites!

How Do I Talk To My Customers With My Website?

The fact of the matter is, your web presence ALWAYS talks to (or shouts at, or ignores) your customers.

The REAL question is to ask yourself what your website is saying to your customers.

  • Do you make life easy for your customers?
  • Do you give them all the information they would want, giving them a searchable and thoughtfully-presented structure?
  •  Do you make it easy to reach you if your customers still have questions?
  • Did you consider that some of your customers may have visual or hearing-related impairments, which may effect searching, browsing, or accessibly?
  • Is my site easy to navigate on a smartphone?
  • Do I deliver great content that my customers want
  • Am I friendly, entertaining, engaging, or otherwise pleasant to interact with online?
  • Am I sensitive to the fact that my customers may be accessing my site in a quiet setting (office, library, next to a sleeping baby, etc.)?

THESE are the factors that make a great web presence: accessibility, information, making your customer’s life easy, making it easy for them to find and buy your products/services, etc.

Flash may provide a “wow factor” to your site, but for most, it’s tolerable, or even momentarily cool, the first time. After that first time, it gets old. If you’re in a hurry for information, or it’s the millionth time you’ve had to wait for it to load, or hit “skip intro” (or turn-off some auto-play audio/video), it gets downright irritating.

I don’t know about you, but I never want someone associating “irritating” with my brand. (Ok. It’s probably too late for me, but there’s still hope for you!) ;)

I’ll leave you with this final thought: If you need to yell or be flashy to attract attention, you’ve got some problems to address with your business/product. If you are the awesome person you are, if you provide great information and curate great content for your customers, if you make life easy — you’ll win every time.

Go Get ‘Em Tiger

What is Klout?

Do you have clout? How about Klout?

Klout? What’s that?

Klout (www.klout.com) is a company, started by Joe Fernandez, that set out with the goal of measuring your Social Media Influence. Social Media Influence generally defined as one’s ability to drive action to your social media friends. Typically, this would be measured by how likely your content will get liked, re-tweeted, interacted-with, shared, or viewed.

Klout uses complex math to give weight to people’s actions as well.

I have a friend, Liz P., who “likes” a lot of stuff on Facebook. She’s a daily, active user. On the other hand, I’m friends with a lot of “observer” types. Based on what Klout claims, Liz’s interaction with my content will not have the same impact as, others who almost never interact with any content. According to Klout, it’s like saying, “Gee. you must make great content, because that person NEVER interacts with anybody” — and my score goes up.

One’s score is also measured by how much one actively participates and shares other people’s content as well.

Who Cares About Klout?

Great Question.

Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, your Klout score really only matters for the purpose of vanity, if you want to try to get free stuff, or if you are in certain blogging and internet marketing niches. I have personally gotten several free things (Axe hair gel, offer for free + shipping – business cards, discount wine, and other random things). But really, my score (that I know of) has never helped me land a customer. I’ve never gotten free vacations. I didn’t lose weight, get a sweet job offer, nor did I really get anything… EXCEPT… a metric.

This metric, isn’t worth much in terms of influence in the traditional sense. Honestly, I think Klout is too flawed to really be a good metric for REAL social influence –both because it doesn’t measure that stuff very accurately, but also it doesn’t factor in offline influence, nor does it factor in the level of importance of the conversations you’re having online.

But Back to the Metric…

That’s right. You get a metric.

What’s it good for?

I’m a firm believer that the metric is GREAT for reminding you how on-point you are with your social media accounts, how frequently you’re participating, and overall gives you a good barometer of how you’re likely doing online.

Your Score Goes Down if…

  • You quit using social media (or quit using it regularly)
  • You don’t engage (or engage much)
  • People don’t interact with you or your content
  • You don’t maintain and/or grow your follower list

…on the other hand.

Your Score Goes Up if…

  • You talk to people
  • People talk back
  • You share great content (of your own)
  • You share great content (from your net)

The Other Metric Klout Gives You

“Influential Topics” – based on your conversations, Klout will guess, and I do mean guess, what topics for which you are an “influencer.” In reality, this can be bogus. I had a conversation with a Tweep of mine about “Lambs Quarters” in our garden– 3 weeks later, I’m influential about “Lambs” and “Masters Golf Tournament.”

I’ve mini golfed. That’s about it. Lambs are good… with mint jelly. Ridiculous.

BUT — what I didn’t see at the time were terms that related to my professional life. Several months later, I started seeing terms, such as, “Klout, Twitter, SEO, Marketing, Entrepreneurship” — etc.

This means, at the very least, that the content I’m tweeting about is focused on my professional niche, and that people are interacting with it. Job well done.

In The End

The only thing that measures your success is that which you define success by. If it’s a financial goal, Sales, EBITDA,  or Net Income are your measures of success. If it’s how cool I can be online, and how much payola I get — Klout only helps by letting you qualify. The metric is still “how cool am I? How much free stuff do I have”. If you want to measure influence, ask all your friends to complete an action. Ask your friends to buy something. Convince them. — you’ll find how much influence you really have, based on whether or not they complete it.

I love the idea of Klout, and I still check it from time to time (a lot)… but for me, it’s not a measure of influence; it’s a measure of how much am I dropping the ball with my Social Media.