Tag Archives: klout.com

Magic of Metrics. Tyranny of Metrics. Management of Metrics

The tyranny of metrics is that I keep looking at my page views on this blog, my subscriber count, my Klout score, my blog rating, and I can’t stop. I have to keep blogging, tweeting, and conversing, or else it goes down. There is no taking a pause, no relaxation, or my rating goes down. There’s even that Small Business Influencers voting going on right now, and I’m watching that too. measurement

Before that it was unit sales of Business Plan Pro, web views, conversion rates, and profits. And before that it was sales and profits in earlier jobs, column inches published, newspapers using UPI vs. AP, GPA in grad school, GPA in college, GMAT and SAT, GPA in high school.

It never ends. Did you think when you got out of high school you’d be able to forget metrics like GPA or SAT? Or that when you got out of college you’d be able to forget that GPA and the GMAT? Probably not.

Which is also the magic of metrics too. Because most of us don’t want the numbers to end. “Immeasurement,” as Patrick Lencioni calls it, makes us miserable.

Patrick is the author of  The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. And he says most people want and need and want our metrics. “Immeasurement” makes us miserable. Here’s a quote from a blog post he wrote:Miserablejob

All human beings in any kind of a job need some way to assess their own performance that’s objective. It might not be numerical or easily quantitative, but it’s somewhat objective and observable by them, because then they are not left to depend upon the opinion or the whim of a manager once a year during a performance appraisal. People need to be able to go home from work every night, or every week, or every month, and know where they stand, and know what they can do to influence how they’re working.

So yes, metrics are pushy, but yes, metrics help you and others to care about what you do. You want your numbers going up. And you want your peers to see your numbers going up.  And that leads us directly to the management benefits of simple metrics. If there is some objective score to keep, then it’s objective, it’s motivating, and it helps us manage a team. To me, that’s supposed to be in the live business planning that sets up metrics and gets reviewed regularly. Others might call that a scorecard system, or critical factors … there are lots of ways to develop that same core function of metrics and management.

So choose the right numbers to follow.

A Few Good Posts for a Friday

These are some posts I recommended reading this week.

  • My absolute favorite this week was Mark Suster’s 9 Women Can’t Make a Baby in a Month, on TechCrunch. Mark’s Both Sides of the Table is a great blog, by the way. And this is the thought at the heart of that post:

    Over funding often produces bad behavior in early-stage companies. You hire people too fast, you over build your products, you try to force market adoption and you do PR blitzes before your product is really ready for prime time. And having too much money certainly raises board expectations that you will do big things quickly.

  • Inside Facebook explains how to convert your Facebook profile to a business page. Thanks to John Jantsch for pointing this one out. I’m a perfect example, I think; I’ve used Facebook only to support my writing and speaking, so it’s much more of a business page than a personal profile anyhow.
  • TechCrunch features Jonah Paretti, entrepreneur, teacher, and true expert on contagious media (in fact I think he coined that term).
  • I really like Denise O’Berry’s post Google Cracks the Code on What Makes a Good Manager. Here’s the quick summary:
    • Be a good coach
    • Empower your team and don’t micromanage
    • Express interest in team members’ success and personal well being
    • Don’t be a sissy: be productive and results-oriented
    • Be a good communicator and listen to your team
    • Help your employees with career development
    • Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
    • Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
  • And finally, since today is April 1, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day, this one by my daughter Megan Berry of Klout.com: Measure Your Text Messaging Klout.

The Soft White Underbelly of Metrics

I believe in metrics. Metrics and management go together.  You really can’t manage without them. But damn, don’t you hate them sometimes?

By metrics I mean measurement: sales dollars, costs per unit of sales, expenses, profits, cash … calls, leads, conversions, page views, presentations, trips, clicks, and all of that. You establish specific metrics, then track results, and manage the difference between plan and actual. For me, that’s critical to business planning, which is critical to business management.

But still, damn! Metrics are a hard master. Take a day off, and metrics go down. I went through December holidays worried that if I didn’t keep up my twitter activity, then my Klout score would go down. Or if I let a day go without a blog post, then my blog grade goes down. There’s no letting up.

And it’s all so visible, too. Every post on this blog has that tweet button on the top right, so when a post is boring, you can tell. And I put my Klout score and blog grade right there on the sidebar, too, where not only I see them, but you too … very stressful. (ok, you’re right, I could take them off, but then what would you think?)

Thank goodness I’ve got a good ego and a strong self image.

You Are Always Being Judged. Deal With It.

I overheard (couldn’t help it; waiting in line) somebody complaining about social media metrics like the Klout score, a measurement of influence. She said: “What’s up with these people to try to judge and rank people?”

And I thought to myself:

1. You are always being judged and evaluated…

A couple of generations ago we were all judged on appearance, dress, diction, actual resume stuff, and perceived resume stuff. We went from being tracked through dumb class to smart class beginning in first grade through the whole high-school thing with grades and SAT scores, dating and coolness assumptions, athletics, accerated classes, or not. And then there was which college, which degrees, and, finally, for some of us, which grad degrees. And did we marry or not, and if so, kids or not. And then where we lived, what car we drove.

People have been sorting and selecting and evaluating and judging other people for thousands of years. There is nothing new about that.

2. At least it’s objective…

So now it’s almost 2011 and we’re all doing it as much as we ever did. I don’t deny it. I google you if I’m going to meet you, check out your blog if you have one, your website if you have one, look at the “about” page to see what you think is important about yourself, see who you think you are. Don’t you?

So what’s so bad about a ranking system for Twitter and Facebook based on some algorithms, measuring how your self-published items flow to the rest of the world?

(Disclosure: one of my daughters works with klout.com)

The Paradox of Location vs. Technology

Did you see this piece over the weekend? In Start-Ups Follow Twitter, and Become Neighbors the New York Times presents several San Francisco companies (including klout.com, my personal favorite) that purposely located offices near Twitter for good business reasons.

Steve King called it The Real Magic Comes from Being in the Same Place in his new blog on coworking. He quotes the Times piece:

‘Even though it’s all about tech and the Internet, the real magic of Silicon Valley comes from people being in the same space,’ said Burt Herman, co-founder of Storify.

He calls it "Accelerated serendipity"

It is a belief that coworking increases the generation of business ideas and productivity.  The concept is when smart people from diverse backgrounds come together in a coworking community, good things happen – including business innovation.

Which is all cool, for sure. And of course, in my years in the Silicon Valley from 1981 through 1992, I saw that happening a lot.

But still, wait a minute: Isn’t this the opposite of 2011 and beyond? Aren’t we all – you reading this blog, me writing it, and all the information we both share on Twitter and Facebook – braking the barriers of physical space and geography with a new online landscape? One that brings us closer despite the distance in miles? Haven’t we seen lots of accelerated serendipity online?

In a comment to Steve’s post above, I quoted his (well, his company, Emergent Research) trend number 7 for 2010, from a piece about a year ago, the convergence of social, mobile, and cloud computing. And, come to think of it, trends number 4 and 5, the new localism and the growth of home businesses, are also counter to the idea of being in the same place.

My conclusion: I love a good paradox. And business is full of them.

Influence is Silent Power, and Clever Builds Traffic

Fun, interesting, and the power of 140 characters. Last week Klout.com offered t-shirts as prizes for good short descriptions of what influence means to them. My favorite, by Adrian Lopez (Krownz on twitter), was this one:

“Influence” to me is that special something people have that keep you coming back to them. It’s silent power.

I really like that last three-word sentence. Influence is silent power. You can see all of the winners here.

I’m intrigued as well by how well this simple contest idea worked. It was a one-day thing on Twitter, promoted solely on twitter and the Klout.com blog. It generated more than 60 entries, plus several dozen retweets, all of which meant twitter traffic, eyeballs, and interest for Klout.

And it’s a nice link to what Klout does too: its tagline is “measuring online influence.” The connection is obvious.

And all it cost was five t-shirts and some thought.

I might try the same thing myself. I’m thinking a contest for the best 140-character comment on why businesses want to plan. Maybe on the right relationship between business plan and planning process? Any suggestions?

Is Personal Branding Really Impersonal Faking?

Don’t get me wrong: I think the thinking behind it, the advice wrapped around the idea of personal branding, is excellent. I’ve recommended, for example, Dan Schawbel’s personal branding book Me 2.0 and I’m sticking to it. Dan has a great collection of real-world suggestions in that book. But I’m beginning to think I hate the term. And maybe some of what’s behind it.

Last Friday I read Personal Branding is Bullsh*t (cowardly * by me, not her) by Arienne Holland, communications director of Raven Tools. She writes:

A person doesn’t need a brand. A person is a person whether or not there is paperwork filed with the government. A child doesn’t create a personality, she has one.

She also objects to a magazine article recommending personal branding for employees of large companies:

If you want to travel between companies, you don’t need a personal brand, you need skills and character and friends.

This was already on my mind before reading that because of a conversation I’d had a few weeks ago with my daughter Megan, marketing manager at Klout.com. At the time I was talking about some of Dan Schawbel’s recommendations, and Megan shared that she didn’t like the term. She explained that recently in Why I Hate the Term “Personal Branding” on her blog:

“Worse yet, there’s the idea that this is something new. Personal branding is just a new way to talk about reputation. Well, you know what? Reputation is a much better word for that.

Personal branding implies you should be fake to make it (if you disagree, do let me know). Before you tweet, interact, blog, or walk down the street you need to think if it fits with the image you want to portray. Well, you know what, if there’s only one facet to your personality you’re not an excellent brand, you’re boring.”

She’s not objecting to the things we do as personal branding, at least not if it isn’t faked; instead, she is objecting to the term we use to describe it.

There’s a lot that I like about the whole field of personal branding, particularly the emphasis on actual people and authenticity and humans communicating with humans. But I admit, I hadn’t thought of the underlying meaning of the term “brand.” It does carry a sense of artificial to it, doesn’t it? It makes us think of Mad Men, advertising, consumer opinion research, and expensive image advertising like insurance companies and such, on a very large scale.

Are you the same thing as your brand? If so, then what’s the point?

Klout Puts Metrics Into Social Media Management

I really like klout.com for three good reasons: 1.) it’s about measuring online influence and I’m big on metrics as a key element of business planning; 2.) it’s a great example of a strong startup based on need — entrepreneur Joe Fernandez building something he wanted to use, and getting VC funding; and 3.) they released a new 2.0 version today (VentureBeat covered it … and there’s more detail on the Klout blog).

Metrics are the best possible drivers of good business planning processes and collaboration, because metrics can make feedback, the toughest part of management, almost automatic. Klout offers metrics on social media influence, so you can go beyond just counting followers or friends or whatever. True, I also like Klout because my daughter is marketing manager there. But I’ve been advocating this kind of social media metrics for a long time. Here for example is what I wrote about metrics just two days ago on Small Business Trends, which led  to a discussion of metrics and measurement and better ways to evaluate performance:

I’ve seen objective metrics, like sales, costs, expenses, calls, subscriptions, downloads, visits, page views, minutes per call, or unique visitors work pretty well, especially when they’re part of a regular planning process. I still remember how well the metrics worked in my first job, as an editor for United Press International, when they gave us scores for how many  newspapers used our stories instead of Associated Press.

So, with that in mind, here’s a (relatively) new facility to put numbers behind your social media efforts. Think about this as a tool for managing Twitter performance (if you don’t see the video, click here for the source site.)

So the magic here is that Klout gives you a numeric score for your Twitter presence. I’m pleased. I’m a 45, which is 90th percentile. Sure Guy Kawasaki’s at 100, but my 45 beats a lot of people I know and respect. (What? Me competitive?).

So if you’re dealing with social media performance for a team, in business, maybe you can set goals for Klout scores and then follow up. Include the Klout score in plan review sessions.

What’s your score? What’s going to be your score goal for your management metrics?