Klout score to measure influence

I have Klout!! – Now why should marketers care?

As a budding integrated marketer, I often hear and read about the importance of attracting and winning over  influencers. For the mock strategy I conducted for the Cisco Cius in an NYU MSIM class, that was a focal point of our strategy, and rightfully so. Companies launching a new service or product need to get their message across to the right people, and what better way to cut across the customer spectrum than identifying and channeling your message to the influencers among your target audience.

But who exactly are influencers? There are a number of definitions out there. But for me these are individuals who have the network strength, following and ability to amplify your message and affect the behavior of others. In short they have the ability to influence others. While, a number of tools can help you identify influencers on blogs, twitter (such as http://twittercounter.com/) etc, one tool has blown away the competition – Klout.

 

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Google social foray with Google+

A day with Google+: My experience and opinion of Google’s social media platform

There are few things in life that test’s one’s courage, moving to another country and shifting to a social media platform.

Don’t see the similarity?? Here are some: so while you’re excited at the idea of moving and figuring out this new place, you’re likely to have many questions (especially if don’t know many people in the region). You wonder if you figure out the rules and customs and whether you will fit in. How will you mold your home to your liking? How different will it be from your old digs? Will you be able to adjust to the new space? You’re also most likely to wonder if the people there will “like” you, “share” your humor and your anecdotes, “comment” on your moods and become your “friend”. So moving/trying out a new platform is very much like moving to a new country.

After being rejected to enter Google+ twice last night, I finally got my visa…I mean authorization. Plus I was excited to see just what Google had come up with to challenge Facebook (my current leading social media poison).

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Inside the Georgia Aquarium

Summer 2010 I traveled around a fair bit and made a trip to California, Vegas, Upstate New York and Atlanta with my mother. I got a chance to see some great sites including the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. But the one that took me by surprise was my trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. I have always loved Aquariums but this has got to be one of the best I have ever visited. I spent over 5 hours here, and had to be literally dragged out of there. The aquarium is also home to the largest fish in the world, the whale shark, and I got to see them during the behind the scene tour. Here are some pictures, if you’re ever in the region this place definitely deserves a visit.

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Insights from ARF Audience Measurement Conference

ARF Audience Measurement conference - NYC 2011

I spent the last two days (June 13-14th) attending the ARF Audience Measurement 6.O conference in NYC, particularly the social media insights panels. It was exciting to sit there and listen to how companies such as Cisco and Verizon are using social media, as well as how media planning and technology companies are testing findings to roll-out of various advertising methodologies. The following post focuses on some of the insights I got from some of the Key Note and panels I attended.

Perfect People Meter:

Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, presented a keynote on how people use digital technology and how that makes audience measurement more complicated than in the past. Rainie  listed out three revolutions – the Internet, mobile and social media, and then proceeded to discuss each in detail.

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A new dawn of social media??

What if I told you that there was a way to meet new people, get a great meal at a discount and all thanks to social media?

A new tool has just put the social back into social media. I came across this great new tool called Grubwithus, very smart name, a Chicago based start-up.

Grubwithus essentially helps brings strangers together to have a meal. You essentially go to the site, select the city you are in, browse through a list of dinners in their cities and buy tickets, usually for around $25. Before the event, you can share some information about yourself, just to know who you will be meeting. The NYT just wrote an article about it, and it sure sounds like a winning idea. Its been a while since I used a Charlie Sheen reference. The article rightly points out that as great as it is to share your life with your friends online and your professional pursuits on social media sites, we all crave face to face time.

I also like the way they have established a relationship with restaurants, allowing them to control their customer flows and ensure they are booked on evenings when business may be slow. It’s also a great new networking/meeting tool if you are new to a city and want to meet new people.

So at this point, I have just built a profile on the site. I might just go for one of dinners soon, and will report back on my experiences. What do you think, is this the dawn of social media and likely to see many more entrants in the market or just a one-off thing?

Privacy in the digital age

Original cartoon by the US gov’t. Hat tip to Andy Baio.

Privacy, a need constantly demanded  by movie stars and other celebrities, has taken on a new meaning for the common man, who spends a large part of his/her day online. But do we really care about our online footprint or is this brouhaha just being generated to control the growing power of the internet and the media?

The government on its part is trying to be our knight in shining armor, passing along the ‘Do not Track Bill’ – providing consumers with the option to opt out of being tracked.  I think providing options is always a great, its important to have the choice. But on the flip side there are reasons why a bill such as Do not track impedes the growth of the internet. John Battelle in his book The Search, makes a great point that Clickstream data allows companies to identify what you are interested in and helps provides a better experience on the internet.

We all spend a large part of our days surfing the net, posting details of our day-to-day life on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, post pictures (often without privacy settings), check-in using Foursquare, so how concerned are we really with privacy. According to privacy expert Larry Ponemon most U.S. adults — 60 percent —claim they care about privacy but will barely lift a finger in an effort to preserve it. They don’t alter Facebook privacy settings, they don’t complain when supermarkets demand their phone numbers and they certainly don’t insist on encrypted e-mail. I was shocked to read about Gary LosHuerto experience of hacking and informing people they were on an unsecured network and those individuals did nothing to alter their behavior.

Statistics thus far show that the opt-out rate has received relatively low response. The click-through rate is just 0.002% and of those people who do follow the link, only 10% opt out of the ads, according to DoubleVerify, which recently won a contract from the industry trade group to license the icon for ad clients. Two other companies, Evidon and TRUSTe, also provide the service. Evidon, which has the longest set of data, is seeing click-through of 0.005% with only 2% opting out from 30 billion impressions. At this point, advertisers’ fears consumers would opt out of behavioral targeted advertising appears to be slightly overblown.

So how do you feel about the issue? Are you concerned that some company is going through your private information or are you just taking a wait and watch approach?

The Future of Money

I remember first reading about the concept of money in history class and the transition from the barter system to coins to paper money. It all seemed very exciting and that was also when I first shocked my parents by asking for pocket-money. The latter wasn’t very well received. So reading about Jack Dorsey‘s startup Square sparked a number of questions in my mind.

Square essentially wants to replace cash registers, wallets and loyalty cards with mobile apps and a smartphone. As I see it the need is to reduce the hassle of carrying your wallet, particularly plastics everywhere you go, the benefit is a lighter freer and possibly more spendthrift customer (i.e. you). At the moment the software can be loaded on to an iPad.

As long as the customer has Square’s mobile app, the merchant can complete transactions with absolutely no plastic. Square stores payment details in the app, and by sharing your name when checking out, the transaction is processed and you get a text-message confirmation. Neat huh.

But this is not exactly a new concept, just a modifications on whats already in play in the Far East. Japan has long been phasing out the hassle of coins and bills with microchip-laden “smart cards,” which let people make electronic payments for everything from lunch to the daily commute. Other nations, led by South Korea, already have mobile commerce payment schemes in place that let people punch keys on their cell phones so that the devices trigger transactions. According to a Mastercard study, there is a possibility the technology is likely to be accepted in the US. Of Americans who use mobile phones, 63% of those aged between 18-34 years are open to using their device to make purchases. But there is a sizable chunk of the population who are wary of the technology. So its important to gain the buy-in of the remainder and show its efficacy.

Square, as the article suggests, is likely to face significant competition from the big guns, namely Visa and Mastercard. These players have spent decades building the vendor relations and scale necessary for the operation and that is a clear strategic advantage that is hard to replicate by new entrants. However, by nabbing Visa as a strategic investor, I think Square has bought itself some time. Visa, Google and Mastercard are also getting on the act.

Here is a video introducing Google Wallet and retailers perspective.

Square also seems to be focusing on smaller businesses, and this is a hot market to focus on. Especially if it can find a way to partner with players such as Foursquare, GroupOn and Living Social.

On a macro level, we need to consider how this is likely to impact the economy as a whole. In the long run, US consumers need to reign in their spending, yes it will do a lot to circulate money but I wonder if adopted on a large-scale how this would impact the US.

But enough with the gloom. On a brighter note, the day we start using virtual wallets, enjoy intergalactic flights and teleport between locations is possibly not that far. Ahh Gene Roddenberry would be so proud.