Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. PeopleBy Jon Gatrell on December 14, 2010
There is no doubt that brands are investing big time in social media based on some articles of late. Here are just a few of the articles which have gotten me thinking about the influence of companies/brands in social.
- P & G shifts spend from soap operas to social media.
- The Fortune 500 and Social Media: A Longitudinal Study of Blogging and Twitter Usage by America’s Largest Companies
- The apparent “dominance” of Big Brands in social media
The other interesting thing I keep getting a bunch of questions on is, what is the right set of metrics to track in social media. So with the recent emergence of social capital scoring as the topic du jour, I was thinking maybe this could be a good metric, at least for better understanding context. These new social capital scoring providers however, have loftier goals beyond relative context, from Klout’s website:
The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.
These new providers are competing for mind share about who’s number is best or what is the best way to even approach social influence. Since there are multiple providers out there, I decided to look at multiple providers to get a balanced view into social capital for this post, but I really only found 2 which would work.
The main two in the marketplace are Peer Index and Klout, but there are others I guess like Twitter Grader which seems to have a simplistic view of rankings, since all the twitter accounts I analyzed for this piece had a score of 100 which didn’t really help much. Another source I tried to include was PostRank, but not all the sources analyzed had blogs, so I had to throw that one aside as well.
Net-Net, these emerging social capital scoring sites promise to potentially be the FICO of social, which is certainly intriguing and they are gaining more visibility and in some folks minds credibility, but not in all, as you can see based on the titles of the articles below:
- What if you paid based on your Klout score?
- The Klout that Stole Christmas
- Does online influence Matter?
- Peer Index
- Can Klout really measure influence?
So with all this investment by companies in social media and the potential to get paid more, then this social capital must be worth something, right? In fact, it just might be a way for companies and brands to manage their online properties and identities to achieve better results, right?
Markets and Buyers are Changing
No matter what markets you service, the same old stuff isn’t working anymore and there is this really hyped up thing called social media, but what is the best approach for you, your products and your company? While to many of us in the trenches, it is obvious that marketing is changing it would be hard to see that based on the brands and the brand centric approaches many companies are taking with social.
Where it used to be enough to be a “traditional marketer” who knows “pretty things” and how to position brands – things now require a more pointed approach which targets buyers and leverages domain expertise/product familiarity to quickly achieve results in the market. If this is something you doubt, check out April’s pitch from Amsterdam – (Marketing is Dead). If the trend of moving away from big brand approaches is happening, how is this impacting social and how should companies adjust their approach?
So I’ve did a little more digging around and found some compelling research that most people don’t read most of your tweets and how can this impact brands and products trying to break through the noise. So I decided it’s time for some research/an experiment. So seeing these three trends: social investment, movement away from brand marketing and the assertion that most tweets just echo out in the ether, I decided to synthesize these trends into something interesting and see what lessons might be gleaned.
Brands vs. People: Social Influence
So I first started with the 5 top retail brands who used Twitter on Black Friday and 5 people who I have actually broken bread with or discussed something with and they needed to also “influence” me in some way. I could have easily picked 5 “rock stars” or social media ninjas and rigged it, but I thought it was important to put a constraint that they be in my network and that I personally have engaged with these folks IRL. So the experiment is to look at both of these groups and compare both their Klout scores and their Peer Index scores to see based on some magical influence math who has more social capital – Brands or People in social media.
By using both Peer Index and Klout, I believe I have addressed some of the hub bub on the interwebs with the math concerns specifically, how Klout can’t detect robots well and Peer Index uses a “real” metric, which I assume addresses in some way tweet velocity, @ replies and conversations. The other item is that Peer Index scores for some are radically different, so I used averages across both services for both the brands and the people.
Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People.
Conclusions and Questions
As with all data, once you frame it and dig in you typically have more questions than answers on the first cut. So the conclusions I have are actually more in the form of questions, than conclusions:
- Should there be Two Algorithms – one for businesses and one for people? Think FICO vs. Dun & Bradstreet.
- Are people becoming more relevant for brands and companies, much in the way products and product marketing are increasingly more relevant to buyers?
- Is being real, just really knowing the buyers and the market segment and being able to engage in meaningful discussions and the sharing relevant information with the buyers in the segment?
- Can a single algorithm really measure an intangible?
- If there isn’t a single metric, will “camps” develop around what score to trust?
- Could there soon be such as thing as a “Klout Coach” to help people and companies to increase their capital?
not to get all cliche and stuff, but maybe a brand’s best asset is their people when it comes to social.