Posts by Andrea Goldberg

The Future is Almost Here: Social Business Trends

Implementing new technologies and changing business cultures simultaneously is not an easy task, and that is what social business is trying to do.  As a result, while progress has been made, this is not an overnight process.  Thus, despite much hype, most organizations can not claim to be fully articulated social businesses.

Recently though, some social business predictions have begun to come true. New technology platforms have been implemented, executives are recognizing their roles in digital transformation, and cultural changes have started.  Early adopters, such as digital marketers, are being joined by their colleagues from other functional areas, and investments are being made in socially enabled processes, communities and social and network analytics.

In a recent well-documented report, Social Trends to Watch in 2014, Bill Chamberlin, an IBM thought leader and the Community Leader of HorizonWatching, cited 10 trends he believes will continue to show growth this year. They are as follows:

  1. It is not just about marketing – There are social capabilities being developed across the entire enterprise
  2. It transforms business processes – Both front and back-end processes are changing
  3. CEO’s (& Senior Execs) step up to the plate – Senior folks are beginning to exert leadership in this area
  4. HR embraces social internally – No longer is HR just focused on social platforms for recruiting
  5. Social becomes more visual – More visual content is being embedded and embraced
  6. Relationship marketing – Social sites are shifting from pushing content only to relationship building
  7. Community marketing – There is an increased focus on creating and maintain communities
  8. Social analytics – There is a push to assess and understand sentiment and behavior across networks
  9. Employee advocacy programs – There is recognition that employees that are properly trained can be great brand ambassadors
  10. Developers required – New apps and skills are needed as the integration of social, mobile, cloud and bid data become a reality and creates new demands.

These trends are currently playing out and digital innovation is changing organizational structures and business models.  Organizations are now faced with:  figuring out how to access diverse data across devices and platforms, service customers who have high expectations for support and capitalize on the additional markets now available to them.  These shifts have created new opportunities and challenges.

In a recent McKinsey Article, The Digital Tipping Point, it was pointed out that executives have made significant financial commitments in digital and, as a result, are beginning to rethink how they need to run their organizations: “It is evident that digitization has become a critical asset in many companies’ quest for growth. More than three-quarters of executives say the strategic intent behind their digital programs is either to build competitive advantage in existing business or create new business and tap new profit pools”.

One of the other major changes in how social business is impacting organizations comes from the area of product development. Not only are organizations embracing social tools to perform analytics and research emerging market and customer needs, they are increasingly forming partnerships with their customers to develop new market entries or using collaborative networks to foster innovation.

The old paradigm, of a few smart guys working in a garage to develop the next big thing, has shifted. In the new paradigm, ideas and prototypes are likely to come from a social network or community, and the innovators may or may not know one another, or work for the same company that they are developing for.  Innovation is being crowdsourced and outsourced.

Social Business may not yet be fully realized, but it is definitely shifting how business gets done.  Social business and advances in digital technology will continue to change not only the strategies and structure of organizations, but the type of leadership and skills needed.  The future is still uncertain, but clearly how organizations deal with this change and transformation will determine who succeeds and who fails.


Modified from a blog originally posted by the author in

Aligning Social Business and Organizational Culture

One can login to Twitter, YouTube, Mashable or any number of social networking sites and receive advice on how to use social media tools to improve customer outreach, loyalty and employee engagement.  Some of these posts are mediocre, while others are quite good and provide sound guidance and case studies.  But, they all start with an assumption that social media or social business is an imperative and that all organizations should evolve to this state.   Is this premise correct?

My concern is that in our impatience to encourage organizations to develop social media strategies with appropriate goals and metrics, we have failed to give sufficient focus to the obstacles that they might face.   We do not live in a one size fits all world and yet we sometimes dispense advice as if this was the case.

At a cloud computing conference I recently attended, I heard several speakers promote the value of private clouds and talk about how control was shifting back to the end-users.  They postulated that the role of the IT department was evolving into negotiating services rather than supplying them.   Amidst the facts and figures about money to be saved and speed of delivery, the question arose to the obstacles cloud computing faces.  Without hesitation, the speakers all agreed that organizational culture was the biggest hurdle; it is not the technology that is hard to install, it is the people and culture that are difficult to change.  This same argument has also been given for why some social networks and collaborative implementations work and others don’t.

So what is organizational culture and why is it so difficult to change?  Organizational culture encompasses things that are typically taken for granted by those who exist within that culture.  They include underlying assumptions and norms, expectations, and collective stories or memories.   Cultures may be personified by logos and mission statements and are even reflected in the design of buildings or office campuses.  They convey a sense of identity and provide unwritten guidelines about how things get done.  In many cases people are not truly aware of their distinct culture until it is challenged or they experience a culture that is quite different.

Although organizational culture may be difficult to change, it can be classified and measured.   One widely used organizational cultural framework states that there are 4 archetypes of organizational culture.  Each is typified by different leadership styles, values and beliefs about effectiveness.   They are:

  1.  Internally focused hierarchical/control based cultures
  2.  Internally focused collaborative or clan cultures
  3.  Externally focused competitive or market cultures
  4.  Externally focused innovation based cultures.

While there are two internally focused cultures, a hierarchical culture is concerned with control systems and coordination while a collaborative culture places the emphasis on interpersonal relationships.  The externally focused market culture puts a priority on managing customer service and competitiveness, while the innovative culture is more concerned about the future and managing discovery and innovation.  Each will react very differently to the imposition of social business programs.

While there is no question that social is the way business will be done in the future, there is clearly a need to understand the culture into which it will be driven.   It is important to assess one’s starting point.  Culture change is possible, but it has to be thoughtful, tailored and it will not happen overnight.  Furthermore, this change will require a leadership vision that enables the organization to move from where it is, to where it needs to be.  And depending on the current culture, this might be a short distance or a very long road!

Modified from a blog originally posted by the author in

Surviving the Future: How to Build a 21st Century Organization

We currently live in a hyper connected world characterized by 24/7 access to global communications, with social networks providing ability to self publish and be heard.  We carry more compute power on smart phones than early computers and possess access to information previous generations could not imagine.  Yet, for many organizations, culture and business processes have not kept up.  While business causal has replaced suits and digital has replaced paper, it is not clear that today’s organizations know how to accommodate the more open, collaborative processes that the Internet has fostered and new cohorts of employees expect.

Many companies came of age with hierarchical structures and command and control leadership.   Boundaries were clear and roles rigid.  Yet, despite vast technological change and shifts in how work gets done, many organizational designs  put in place in the last century are still with us.

What should you do?  The following are some steps HR, Marketing and business leaders should take to change culture and processes and, ultimately, enable their businesses to remain competitive.  Social media and social business are transforming the world of work and the only organizations that will thrive are those that have figured out how to use new technologies to their advantage.

  1.  Devise a plan to intelligently implement virtual work and virtual teams.  Despite the recent controversy, they are not going away!  Co-location is necessary for certain jobs, but many knowledge based workers can work virtually with existing technology.    Virtual workers also have a smaller carbon footprint, organizations save money on infrastructure costs and older workers or those with work/life demands can be accommodated.
  2.  Redesign jobs to be modular and allow workers to utilize skills on projects anywhere in the organization.  This  makes good use of human capital, solves skill shortages and can lead to greater productivity and satisfaction among employees.
  3. Redefine the role of leaders.  Encourage leaders to find ways of engaging and not just be seen as ensconced in their offices behind traditional gatekeepers.
  4. Empower employee collaboration.  Provide employees a seat at the table, get their feedback and listen to their suggestions.  They can provide valuable insights and intelligence about trends, competitors and emerging needs.
  5. Train all employees on new technologies.   Many older adults have embraced social networks.  Don’t assume only the  millennials will get it.
  6. Provide guidelines on social media.  Make sure the rules are clear and consequences for bad behavior spelled out.  Your firm’s reputation and brand may depend on this.
  7. Include clients in networks and make innovations more  collaborative.   Social networks are about relationships and collaboration.   Clients’ voices should be heard. They can help articulate their needs and shape new offerings.

We live in a global, fast paced, information rich and boundary spanning era.  We need to create organizations that reflect this.  Otherwise, our businesses will go the way of the fax machine and rotary phone.  They still exist, but no longer serve the purpose they once did.

What do you think?  Contact us at or  call us at 914 234 3917 if you need a road map to the future, training or even implementation assistance.  We can help!  We can also be reached on Twitter @digitalcultured.

Does Market Research Still Matter?

In our fast paced digital business climate, immediacy is critical and carefully constructed market research focused on customer wants and needs and large brand tracking studies have been replaced with newer, cheaper and sexier techniques.  While there is a great deal to gain by using digital data and web listening or by engaging in on-line community based conversations, marketers may be throwing out the baby with the bath water.  I am concerned that in the effort to be timely and current, insufficient focus may be given to using the appropriate methodology or to taking the time necessary to gather the right intelligence to make informed decisions.

In the digital era, it has become easier to develop and promote new products/services and to establish a brand or create a buzz.  Barriers to entry for many businesses are low and the increased sophistication of marketing has enabled better targeting.  Yet, clearly there are many cases of businesses failing.  And, while the costs of entry might be relatively low, the cost of failure may still be very high.   Businesses may not be taking sufficient time to understand what clients really need or feel and how this changes over time.  They also may not be putting in the appropriate metrics to measure success.  Thus, when things go wrong they may not have the insights they need to understand what happened or to develop a strategy to ensure future success.  Too many simply move on and pursue the next shinny new object without learning a thing.

In the quest to reduce marketing expenditures, some businesses have forgotten that not everything can be obtained cheaply and that there is often a difference between stated and unstated needs and values.  Could they be missing something critical?  Web analytics provide valuable data, but they do not always provide insights about what drives behavior.   The digital world is full of data and on-line behavior tracking.  But, what creates and sustains brand loyalty and why clients act like they do are often more difficult to discern.

I am not suggesting that research return to the days when insights were only from one-way mirrors or phone based surveys.  I do, however, recommend that a more balanced approach be taken and the right tools employed to gain knowledge.  The optimal combination would be multiple types of data that could enable one to understand the full complexity of market forces and customer requirements.  Most businesses would love to be able to predict customer behavior so that they might act to prevent defection.  Having the means to do this often requires intelligence that cannot simply be gained quickly and through only one channel.

The on-line world certainly allows a level of customer intimacy that did not exist before and it has provided a vast array of data.  But, one should not lose sight of the limitations of the information that is often readily available.    There are costs to failing.  Longitudinal surveys and focus groups, may actually turn out be good investments!

Do You Know Your Brand’s Digital Identity?

Branding is not a new thing.  Governments have long realized the importance of symbols and one can go as far back as the Roman Empire to see the imperial eagle representing the power and glory of Rome.  But while symbols are still important components of brands, things have changed quite a bit in the past few millennia.  While we still use distinct symbols or logos and brands still stand for specific attributes and values, the digital age has definitely changed the game.

In the new collaborative and virtual world we operate in, brand identities are not simply asserted by organizations and individuals; they are co-created and can be quickly developed or destroyed by the masses. In the digital world, brands have expanded into digital identities.  Organizations and individuals have on-line personas.   Unfortunately, many organizations and individuals have limited understanding of how they are perceived nor what is communicated about them.

In the past, political entities and businesses had much greater deal of control over their brands.  They created and nurtured a specific identity, and strived to behave and communicate in ways that were consistent with that identity.  They used paid advertising and public relations and carefully measured the result.    While organizations still use advertising and PR, in the on-line world they can no longer control everything being said or known about them.  Both fans and detractors can publish what they choose and video and other content can easily go viral.

Not being able to totally control brands does not mean abdication.   There are many tools, both free and paid, that enable one to understand what is being said on-line.  From Google Alerts to Radian 6, the level and sophistication of information that can be gleamed can be surprising.  While one cannot prevent negative statements, organizations should monitor the web and be prepared to correct false statements or communicate their own points of view.  Training employees and having them act as brand ambassadors is also a strategy that has been successfully employed by many companies.

Social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs reach millions and allow one to communicate and position one’s organization, but they are not the only components of digital identities.   There is a massive amount of data on-line and we all leave trails.  Marketers have been quick to understand the value of this data.  Targeting has become very sophisticated and it is no longer just what is being said on-line, it is also about behavior and networking connections.   Businesses have developed legitimate ways to gain access to data about what individuals or companies purchase, who they know and what they view.   For good or for bad, the openness of the digital world has enabled a great deal of information to be easily obtained.

To be successful, marketers and business leaders need to understand what is available and get the insights they need.  This includes gaining a better understanding of their clients and prospects and assessing how they and their businesses are viewed on-line.   Unfortunately, if organizations do not proactively take control of or help define their digital identities, others may step in and do it for them.   And, if competitive organizations have a clearer view of customers’ needs and actions, they will be in a better position to meet these needs.  Knowledge has always come with power and this is no more evident than in the fast paced digital world we now live in.

The Role of Corporate Values in a Web 2.0 World


There is a shift going on in how we use social media and the Web.  In the era of Web 1.0, the goal was to get people’s attention.  To this end, marketers tried many gimmicks to get noticed and we were presented with swirling logos and sexy content.  Content was considered to be king and the rush was on to be entertaining, funny and irreverent.  Big brands saw this as a way they could be perceived as more modern and hip and hoped it would enable them to attract a younger demographic.


In the era of Web 2.0 there has been a shift.  While content is still important, collectively there is an over abundance of content.  What has become important are relationships and authenticity.  We as consumers want to be engaged in two-way conversations.  We as employees want to be trusted and have our voices heard.  And, we as members of society want our organizations to be socially responsible and accountable.


In a marketplace characterized by increased transparency at one level and scandal after scandal at the other, there is a growing focus on corporate values and corporate social responsibility.  While being financially successful is still considered a virtue, being successful at all costs is not.   We tend to respect those who are successful without losing their core values or exploiting others.  Suddenly after years of turning a blind eye, there is a growing movement to improve working conditions in the China.   One of the most potent lessons of the Occupy Movement is that in the era of social media there are very few places to hide and communities can easily organize and make their voices heard.  If corporations are to be considered people, we need them to behave with a moral compass that weighs corporate profits against societal losses.  


While many corporate brand managers have put together compelling marketing communications campaigns extolling their company’s environmental sensitivity, often their organizations maintain too narrow a focus and fail to reflect on the many ways in which their company’s actions affect the world.  While a company’s specific actions speak of their commitment to sustainability and other causes, to truly provide make a difference, concern with one’s impact on society must emanate from employees as well as management.  It needs to be part of the organizational culture and fabric of how things get done.  The recent Libor scandal certainly brought this point home.


As we continue to reach out across boundaries and live in an increasing global world, organizations need to ensure that their focus remains broad and that they take full responsibility for what they do.  They must have clear cut values and empower their people to act in a way consistent with those values.  In a recent IBM study, three ways were described for CEOs to empower employees.  The first one of these was “replace rule books with shared belief.  Recalibrate controls and build values employees will live out.”   As IBM and other socially responsible organizations have learned, when shared beliefs reflect things that all of society values, we all benefit.  Relationships are about trust, caring and doing the right thing.  In the era of Web 2.0 that is what we expect and that is what we need!




5 Ways Social Media Can Replicate the Advantages of Main Street

Those that live in small towns know the advantages of frequenting merchants who know their names and what they regularly purchase.  These merchants, mostly small business owners, develop relationships and anticipate needs.  Thus, customers often continue to frequent these establishments, even when strong competitors emerge.  Starbucks adopted this approach in their retail outlets.  They recognized that customers would buy high-priced coffees from baristas who knew their names, how they liked their lattes and who would have the right drink waiting for them upon their arrival.

Such is the power of value added services, relationship marketing and branding.  Most of us are willing to pay a premium for it.  Services tailored to our needs break through the clutter, relationships engender loyalty and strong brands provide us with assurances around quality and intangibles like status. 

Social media and ability of enterprises of all sizes to have an on-line presence, has led to new ways for organizations to create customer intimacy, develop brands and foster loyalty.  While one cannot replace face-to-face relationships, social media can create strong connections among people and vast amounts of on-line data can provide information that traditional merchants could only dream of.  Here are 5 steps to replicate the advantages of the Main Street experience.

  1. Know Thy Customer – On-line loyalty programs can provide information about existing customers; including their preferences, their backgrounds and how they like to buy.  Social media enables two-way communications and relationship building.  Create a loyalty program, understand who your customers are and create a dialog with them.
  2. Use Analytics – Analytic tools provide insights into who buys what from whom, and in which combinations.  Predictive tools enable targeting of customers likely to need specific products or services in the future.  Analytics can provide great competitive advantage.
  3. Listen to Your Customers and the Market – What are people saying about your brand, your products and your competitors?  What will they need in the future?  Join on-line groups and use the free tools that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms provide to gain insights.
  4. Gather Customer Satisfaction Information – Were customers satisfied with your products and services and how they were delivered?  Would they recommend your business to a friend?  If you do not know these things, find out.  And, be sure to check out what is being said about your business on Yelp or Angie’s list.
  5. Take Actions and Gather Feedback – Respond to what you learn by taking action.   Don’t ignore customer concerns and don’t be afraid to experiment, take calculated risks and ask for feedback.  You will quickly discover what works and what doesn’t.

What is your view?  You can also contact me on-line on Twitter @digitalcultured, Facebook at Digital Culture Consulting and email at

Social Business…Why You Should Care

In the past most organizations had clear-cut boundaries and roles were well-defined.  While they had to be responsive to customers, major decisions were left to management and communications with employees and customers were typically one-way.  With the emergence of social media and non-traditional ecosystems,  interactions tend to be two-way and change can be driven by any number of stakeholders, including employees, partners and suppliers.

 In order to thrive in this environment businesses are deploying and using new social tools and taking advantage of the many new business opportunities. Organizations are evolving to be social businesses, which are defined as those that have the strategies and technologies that allow all parts of their ecosystems to be engaged, create value, form relationships and make decisions.   Social business is the latest step in the evolution of business that began with the advent of the Internet and electronic communications.  In these organizations work is accomplished differently and products and services are created and purchased in new ways.   Since social businesses can adapt to their environments, they are well suited to meet the changing needs of their internal and external constituencies. 

 IBM, one of the company’s leading in social business, has identified three distinct characteristics of a social business:

            Engaged—deeply connecting people, including customers, employees, and partners, to be involved in productive, efficient ways.

            Transparent—removing boundaries to information, experts and assets, helping people align every action to drive business results.

            Nimble—speeding up business with information and insight to anticipate and address  evolving opportunities.

 There are many  advantages to becoming a social business.  Internally these organizations often have better business performance, are more efficient, have better insights and  knowledge, are more aware of new opportunities, have better collaboration , more efficient processes and avoid duplication of efforts.  Externally, they can have lower customer care costs, better customer satisfaction and loyalty, lower marketing and sales costs, better brand reputations and lower product development costs.

 It is difficult for any organization to go from being an isolated entity to being social business, although few organizations are really totally isolated any more.  Organizations need to develop the strategies and tools that will enable them to move along this continuum.    They need to go from having an inside out point of view to an outside in point of view and they have must have technologies that enable collaboration and the sharing of insights and knowledge.

 While increasing employee and customer engagement is usually welcome, not every social business initiative will succeed and it is important that an organization experiments with new approaches, learns from mistakes and moves on when something doesn’t work.  Having leaders who are not afraid to take risks is one important step.  Having employees who know how to be digital citizens is another.  Employees must have the training necessary to understand how to behave and to manage their own reputations and that of their employers.

 Although social businesses may be relatively new entities, the number of social business is growing.  A 2011 social business survey by International Data Corporation (IDC) showed that 41% of respondents have some sort of social business initiative underway. What they found, however, is that these projects vary greatly.  They ranged from grassroots bottom-up employee initiatives to sophisticated and strategic social customer engagement programs.

 So while there is no “one size fits all” way to be a social business, the message is clear; if you run a business, you should think about where you are on the continuum from isolation to integration to stakeholder optimization and develop a plan to transform your organization into a social one.   Otherwise your business risks being endangered.

Why Your Business Needs to Be Focused On Social Media: Unlocking Potential and Avoiding Pitfalls


We are in the midst of a social media revolution.  Like the Arab Spring uprisings, where revolutionary leaders used social media to create widespread awareness, support, rapidly communicate with and mobilize supporters, social media is now enabling organizations to do business as never before.  It is increasing collaboration and breaking down barriers between internal organizations and the external world.  It is also fundamentally changing how work is performed and how organizations operate.

Today’s organizations are faced with a business environment that is increasingly global, competitive and fast paced and where disruptive innovation may render existing business models obsolete.  If they do not act quickly and adapt to these changes, they may not survive.  Such was the case of Borders who failed to adjust to the onset of e-books, unlike their main competitor, Barnes and Noble, who came out with the Nook.  Barnes and Noble is still operating while Borders recently shuttered all their stores.  The choice is not whether to adapt to change and implement social media in organizations; rather it is how to best implement it in order to survive in the rapidly evolving business environment.

The influx of digital natives, the increased presence of virtual employees and the prevalence of virtual global teams has made organizations adapt to new labor market realities.    At the same time, social media use is climbing. With around 800 million people around the world using Facebook, more than 25% of all Americans spending time on social media sites, and the majority of the Fortune 500 implementing social media programs, it is clear that the “social media phenomenon” is not just a fad.

Social Media and Organization 2.0

Organizations are learning how to adapt their cultures to employees who can and want to work differently as well as customers who want to buy and be serviced in more inclusive ways.  These changes have impacted all aspects of organizations including recruiting and selection, rewards and incentives, job roles, leadership, and training and development.  It has also become clear that different skills sets will be required to meet the evolving organizational paradigms.  And as employees have more external touch points, employers recognize that new guidelines, polices and training programs must be put in place.

While social medial media has enabled many positive outcomes, such as new approaches for marketing, branding and communications, opportunities for thought leadership, recruitment of hard-to-find skilled candidates, increased employee engagement and better customer  service, it is clear that it has changed expectations of participation and created a loss of employer control.  It requires more transparency and  a reframing of employee personal versus public communications.

The Upside and the Downside

Brands take on new meaning in the age of social media. Employees can be a visible and positive force in this environment and serve as brand ambassadors.  Companies like IBM have been very successful in utilizing their workers to aid their brand.  They demonstrate brand values and deliver upon brand promises and expectations.  But, judgment must be used on social media and there are many cases of employees hurting brands by writing inappropriate things and embarrassing their employers.   Recently, a Philadelphia high school teacher was suspended with pay after she wrote a blog in which in which she spoke harshly about her students saying, “They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners.  Similarly, an Albuquerque police officer was placed on desk duty after listing his occupation on his Facebook profile as “Human waste disposal.”  Other examples include a police woman posting inappropriate Facebook pictures alongside police insignia, waitresses writing negative things about their customers, and employees defaming supervisors.  And, even a member of Congress, Anthony Weiner, had to resign after tweeting lewd pictures of himself to a young woman.

Without proper training or guidance, employees can unintentionally or maliciously damage organizational reputations, resulting in the loss of customers, revenue and intellectual property.  This behavior can have a negative impact on employee morale, create management difficulties and the inability to recruit top candidates, as well as cause legal issues.  That is why smart organizations are being proactive and trying to understand the readiness of their organizations with respect to social media.  They realize it is critical to have metrics that allow one to understand existing usage among employees, guidelines awareness, etc.  This way they can assess how effective any planned social media implementation will be or measure how successful existing ones are.

The Solution

The solution we developed is PSMOTM – a Program for Social Media Optimization – that is designed to measure the organization’s current status as an entity in the social media context, identify and solve for any competitive weaknesses and optimize its functioning to produce employees who act as brand ambassadors in the social media cultural milieu.Image

The PSMOTM process assesses the eight (8) specific factors that comprise organizational optimization regarding employees’ social media behaviors and brand advocacy.  The assessment process involves quantitative survey research and in-depth qualitative interviews among the organization’s leaders (policy-makers) and “customer-facing” employees.  An organization’s PSMOTM profile is used to determine specific strategies and tactical programs that can be implemented to achieve a more effective set of social media policies to drive better employee selection, retention, leadership, and branding.

For more information about the PSMOTM program, feel free to contact Andrea Goldberg, Ph.D., President of Digital Culture Consulting, LLC. (

On-Line Influence Metrics: Three Actions You Should You Take

Having influence in the digital world is one of the main goals of social media.   As off-line, people are influenced by folks they trust, those that they like or those they believe to be have specific expertise.  Social media, however, provides a forum for referrals on a scale not possible off-line.  Viral videos, retweets, etc, can create buzz, over night sensations, drive sales or destroy reputations.

Many individuals and companies, either by celebrity, word of mouth or break out marketing are perceived to exert influence on-line.  Businesses invest in social media to increase brand recognition and drive sales.  One way they do this is to encourage those whom they perceive to be influential to promote their brands, products and services.  The challenge has been to quantify who, are in fact, influential and to determine what the true value of this influence actually is.

While there are a number of entries in this space, Klout has emerged as the measurement leader.  Klout takes data from public social networks or other network connected to Klout, and provides users overall quantitative scores from 1 to 100 based on their level on-line influence.

But is Klout actually converting digital influence into an actual business value measurement?  Klout appears to equate transactions and number of followers with actual influence.  A more recent entry in this space, Kred, measures a person’s online influence and level of engagement or outreach and provides two different scores.  Influence is defined as the ability to inspire action by others such as retweets, replies, etc, while outreach focuses on people initiating conversations or interacting with others.  Kred also integrates off-line awards and recognition.  PeerIndex, another metric, measures social media influence at an individual level, but looks at a person’s level of authority on a specific subject area.

Klout initially gained prominence because it was a convenient short-hand to identify those who could best promote one’s business.  Klout continues to evolve their tools and recently revised their scoring method to somewhat mixed receptions.  Clearly, over time there will be new entrants and existing players will refine tools and algorithms.  Until these measures come closer to assessing things such as trust or strength of relationships, they will fall short of the mark.

Although these metrics still do not adequately capture all aspects of influence, one should care about their scores.  Those with higher influence scores are simply more likely to have their tweets, posts etc viewed by more people. Three actions steps one should consider are:

  1. Determine what your Klout, Kred or PeerIndex scores are.  These metrics are free and it could be valuable to understand how influential you are perceived to be. If you are dissatisfied with these scores, you can then develop a plan to improve them.
  2. Find out how influential your competitors are perceived to be.  Scores are generally not private, so this information should not be that difficult to obtain.  If they are rated much better than you are and you are concerned, simply assess what they are doing that you are not and plan accordingly.
  3. Understand which of your best customers have high scores and figure out how to engage with these individuals to your best advantage.  Having influential folks write good things about your business can be very beneficial!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please contact me here or on-line on Twitter @digitalcultured or Facebook at Digital Culture Consulting.