Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People

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.

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:

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:

  1. Should there be Two Algorithms – one for businesses and one for people? Think FICO vs. Dun & Bradstreet.
  2. Are people becoming more relevant for brands and companies, much in the way products and product marketing are increasingly more relevant to buyers?
  3. 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?
  4. Can a single algorithm really measure an intangible?
  5. If there isn’t a single metric, will “camps” develop around what score to trust?
  6. 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.

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  • Reply jon gatrell December 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People

  • Reply Drew Franklin December 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

    RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People

  • Reply devcorporate December 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

    RT @spatially Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People

  • Reply jcmecke December 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

    RT @spatially Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People

  • Reply jcmecke December 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Good piece on the emerging FICO scores of social influence by @spatially

  • Reply devcorporate December 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Good piece on the emerging FICO scores of social influence by @spatially

  • Reply Shashi Bellamkonda December 14, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People – @spatially interesting insight to the argument (uses examples=me) Tnx

  • Reply Daily Papers December 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

    RT @winetrends: #Brands aren't doing it right! Social Media influence requires people over brands.

  • Reply Alex Gagnon December 14, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    RT @spatially Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People

  • Reply April Dunford December 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People interesting #prodmgmt #marketing

  • Reply Pragmatic Marketing December 15, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    RT @aprildunford: RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People interesting #prodmgmt #marketing

  • Reply Cindy F Solomon December 15, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    RT @pragmaticmkting: RT @aprildunford: RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People interesting #pr …

  • Reply Brendan Flynn December 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People

  • Reply Are brands really effective in social media? « Changing Markets and Evolving Brands December 16, 2010 at 6:26 am

    […] Are brands really effective in social media? There is clearly a good deal of talk about the progress brands and companies have made in social media in 2010, but is it the brand or the person behind the account that matter? Or is it really the people who are out in the blogosphere and twittersphere impacting the success of social programs? […]

  • Reply Chris Heuer December 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Its even more nuanced then the 2 indexes needed, there is a need to understand both influential people, and what they are influential about and what objects they produce that are influential and influential to whom.

    Which is a much deeper question.

    This is one of the reasons I am going to be working on the Net Trust Score as a big part of my focus in 2011 – I think this will blow out many of these attempts to judge influence and perhaps help solve this problem – its more important in my mind whether people are trusted on a particular subject matter, or with particular news stream.

    Of course reach is important too, so that will get factored in as an amplifier, but not as a core metric – if a person or brand is trusted by people who are widely trusted and well versed in a given subject matter, amplification will come over time when they are proven to not just be a one-hit wonder with a blog post or tweet.

    Which is the next issue at hand, influential source, or influential object from that source. ie, the different between a person, a post, a collection of sources or a collection of posts (ie a full blog vs. a blog post vs a person vs an organization).

    Clearly, my thinking is not all that linear and clear this morning, so I am going to finally jump out of morning routine email/social news and get some breakfast then get to work. I will get in touch soon on this, and will be publishing more specifics in 2011 – this is an early preview vis a vis a comment on a great post and a great experiment. Thanks Jon!

    • Reply Jon Gatrell December 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

      Chris – thanks for the preview of the net trust score. I think ANY number has to be based on a set of independent folks – say 5 or 7 different vendors with different formulas. No single view of influence is right or wrong. Is how one views art correct or incorrect? it’s very much context based which is why I think you CAN’T have a single number which isn’t constrained to a context – business, social networks, business networks, personal influence, industry influence… and if we have that many cuts at context, then maybe, just maybe you can have a single number or create your own number for your OWN reasons.

      Net trust score sounds completely aligned to a single context for a number, rather than an all encompassing value which isn’t derived by an individuals views or leveraging standards based/transparent math.

  • Reply Ingrid Abboud December 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    RT @shashib Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People @spatially interesting insight 2 the argument uses examples=me

  • Reply Howie at Sky Pulse Media December 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    This is all ridiculous. Someone starts a company hoping to make money selling something, in this case Social Media analysis.

    Here is the cold in your face facts. 70% of all Facebook profiles are 100% private. trust me. Over 80% of the profiles of all the Social Media Rockstars are 100% private.

    So really that leaves us with Twitter. Who has a whopping 6m-12m people in the US using it every day. So basically you are going to treat the 4% of consumers with a Klout Score special? You are kidding right? Over a big spender who isn’t using Facebook (over 50% of US consumers do not have a Facebook account).

    I find value in some of the analytics. But the Social Online Influence thing which is not representative of real life boggle me.

    Trust me. If you have Klout in real life. You do not need a Klout score or any score for that matter.

    • Reply Jon Gatrell December 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm

      Howie, thanks for the note! I couldn’t agree more on some level, but for many in marketing and deploying social media programs they are always looking for some math and I’m just not convince a single clout score is it. I think the best way to see if you have clout is to see if someone returns your calls, answers your email or goodness – actually answers your call live!

      Thanks again for your view. Hope you are having a great day!

  • Reply Terry Starbucker December 17, 2010 at 6:27 am

    RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People (a really interesting analysis – well done Jon!)

  • Reply Mike Cassidy December 17, 2010 at 8:10 am

    RT @starbucker: RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People (a really interesting analysis!)

  • Reply jon gatrell December 17, 2010 at 8:21 am

    RT @Starbucker: RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People (a really interesting analysis – well …

  • Reply December 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    RT @Starbucker: RT @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People (a really interesting analysis – well …

  • Reply zenoss December 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

    great presentation on social influence by @spatially, Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People

  • Reply Stephen White December 29, 2010 at 11:57 am

    "maybe a brand’s best asset is their people" @spatially: Social Capital Death Match: Brands vs. People HT @joshua_d

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