Walt Mossberg vs. Klout

Walt Mossberg

Let me start off by saying that I think Walt Mossberg, Tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal and co-executive editor of All Things D, is a brilliant tech journalist and I’ve admired him since I began reading the WSJ in college. This is not meant to be an against the man himself, just a conversation around the current state of journalism and word-of-mouth marketing.

Walt, and several others (like David Pogue of the New York Times), write and share for media outlets that reach a wide audience. Once in a while, I naturally stumble upon these outlet reviews within my Zite app or through Twitter or Facebook. But honestly, these journalists have to play to a wide audience and offer me very little in what I’m looking for.  I am interested in products that help me be more efficient in daily life as a 30-something tech professional who is often on the road, domestically and internationally. Sure, there may be some younger journalists at WSJ, All Things D, NY Times Bits, etc., but I organically and accidentally get my recommendations from my peers in person and on various social networks and aggregators like Zite. No publication can always be so precise.


I have never been an advocate for Klout, but they apparently they acted upon their statement in a conversation we had in 2011.

2011 Convo

Recently, Sony, via Klout, contacted me and nine others in the NYC area, to try out their new laptop, the Vaio Duo. The “perk” was that they would give us brand new Duos and fly us out, in a helicopter no less, to The Hamptons for a night. I bit. I was thinking, “I don’t know what my Klout score is but I know that it’s not high. This is something they only do for major players.” But then I started do some research and it appeared that the idea was to market this laptop to, well, professionals who travel.

Most of who were “perk’d” joked that there was someone we knew that had way more influence than we had.  Why us? As I started to get to know these other folks, I soon began to realize that we all had something in common: Travel.  Granted we all have a decent online footprint, but not massive audiences.

Frankly, I get asked by friends and family almost daily about tech products specific to their needs. “What laptop,/mobile/tablet/app/software/social network/eye apparatus/etc. should I get since I…..?”  In person, forget about it; I get my “brain picked” before I can ask about their kids, job or life. Through social networks, they know that I work in the tech industry and am often travelling around.

Our ages probably ranged from 25-40, but I can tell that all of us were that friend. Klout made it easy for Sony to find us. 

The Real Influencer?

What will determine what someone buys? Of course, it depends. While I’m sure that Sony reached out to the major media publications and the likes off Mossberg, Pogue and those from tech blogs, I think adding the combination of ads and other forms of top-down targeting along with this “middle-down”, specific approach will help get the word out about their product.

My friend, Lachlan, was visiting NYC on the Sunday I returned from The Hamptons. I told him about the trip and brought out the laptop from my overnight (I met him before going home) bag. He played around with it, looked at his wife and seriously stated, “THIS is exactly what I’ve been talking about. I need this.” It could have been a Klout AND Sony commercial.

There are 1000s out there like me and it’s now easy for the average joe to find one of us, that is looking for something very specific. I’m not saying that the tech writer is going the way of the newspaper photographer. But, I kind of am.

As for the Vaio Duo

I would NEVER have bought the Vaio. I’ve been a Mac and Google user for years and wouldn’t even consider purchasing Windows or Sony machine. This also appeared to be a trend among the others that Sony had selected.

Being a Mac fanboy since 2005, I had little expectations of working with Windows on a regular basis. The hardware has me using it daily though. It’s way too early to write a proper review on it, but I do love it so far. I keep finding myself touching the screen on my MacBook Air. I personally won’t be switching my life out of the Apple and Google ecosystems, but when friends ask about options, I now have an understanding of Sony products and a deeper knowledge of the benefits and drawbacks of Windows that I can confidently bring to the table.

The Sony Vaio Hamptons Crew list on Twitter. 
The Weirdest Gift Bag I’ve Ever Gotten
by Roni Weiss, who was also on trip.

@selfishmom WFH (Working From Helicopter) on Vaio


Get (en)Rich(ed) Quick Using Social Media

This is me ranting to the webcam about what I usually rant about to people who have written off Twitter, foursquare and social media in general.  There are a plethora additional service that I could go on about, but Twitter and foursquare are good starters for those looking to get more out of social media than Facebook. I truly believe that these apps/services can enrichen our lives by knowing our preferences, interests and surrounding us with like-minded people.

Start with https://twitter.com/search if you’ve never used Twitter before or gave up on it.

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Delete Angry Birds

Nothing against Rovio or Angry Birds, I just mean games in general. I approximately spend 400 hours a year on a train. Every day to and from work I see someone playing poker on their BlackBerry, Cut the Rope, or whatever the latest hot game is. Me? Every day I’m watching Ted Talks or reading the TechDygest app, my Twitter feed, my Kindle books, Flipboard headlines, or whatever else I can get to cache before I leave my house/office.  Compare their 400 hours of consumption vs. mine. You are what you eat?

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If you’re playing games in bed every night, STOP. I’m very guilty of doing this for a few weeks with Angry Birds last year. I felt so behind not only in my industry, but with my family life as well. If you are, then you probably haven’t stumbled to this no man’s land section of the internet.

To be fair, I do try all the extremely popular games out for the sake of conversation and knowing what the hotness is. And games do stretch the imagination and work the mind. Truth is that I love them, but I spent way too much time as a kid mastering Nintendo games instead of reading.

Those that have kids will not delete Angry Birds for obvious reasons…so they can watch football or Boardwalk Empire.

Using Twitter to Find Foursquare Connections

I like to have Foursquare connections wherever I may travel or if I move to a new area. This way you quickly find out what’s happening around you (although Explore, Trending does this well from the Foursquare mobile app) and meet new folks who are in the same geographical region as you. These connections may lead to, well, who knows. I can’t tell you the amount of times my life was slightly altered by the recommendations that Foursquare provides through my connections and social graph. The butterfly effect to the extreme!

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Anyway, simply use http://search.twitter.com/ and enter “foursquare brooklyn” (obviously, replace “brooklyn” with city, state, country, conference, etc. of your choice). Then click on the Foursquare link and click add friend.

Always have a transient profile bio that is updated with wherever you are travelling to, conference you’re attending, or hashtag that often tweet about.

Please Add Guest Wifi to Your Establishment/Event

This is actually Trotter

Let’s be honest, I’m a bit of snob when it comes to wifi being provided at an brick-and-mortar establishment:

“I’m not going to that bar, they don’t have wifi.”

“Excuse me sir/miss, what’s the password for your wifi?”

“Let’s FaceTime Trotter since he’s home with the kids tonight. We’ll put a beer next to the iPhone”

Since becoming a heavy tech user in 2009, I’ve lived in Boulder, Colorado, Toronto and New York City; all tech hubs with an abundance of wifi at local establishments. So, when I come across a place that does NOT have wifi, I’m honestly quick to suggest the party moves on. I’m not suggesting everyone be nose-deep in their devices the whole time, but it’s just convenient to have the capability to share photos in realtime and make a quick connection on a social network. We do this anyway, but it takes MUCH LONGER on 3g.

Missing Out On Publicity

The whole point of writing this is for that event co-cordinator, shop owner, pub manager to provide their customers and potential customers with wifi so they can get the word out where they are. “Should I buy this dress?”  “What about this top?!” is much easier to send to your social network on wifi over 3G. Most people with kids don’t frequent pubs as often as I do for obvious reasons. When they do go out, it’s usually going to be a place they heard about on Facebook that provided a good time to a night they missed out on. Give us the ability to share your great festival/antique shop/cricket match so that we can tell our friends and maybe influence them to come as well.

Where to Draw the Line?

This past Friday, Melissa and I went to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade to watch some improv comedy. I thought it was a great show and wanted to get the word out on their behalf.  I was unable to with no wifi and no 3g, but I think that it is intentional there. Being at a show such as that requires uninterrupted attention. How about a baseball game? Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia does not have wifi and I know friends who usually post on Facebook aren’t because of slow data. Maybe it’s better that we just go somewhere and do what we’re intended to do.

Lights On – Lights Off

My suggestion to MLB stadiums: Lights On, Lights Out – Wifi available between innings and during breaks, but turned off during the action. Same goes for NFL and NBA and other sports that have constant commercial breaks. Maybe this could work at comedy shows and other entertainment venues?

Government 2.0 = A New Startup

I just read a piece by Tim Conners that asks for a Gov 2.0 app. Overall it’s a phenomenal idea but the  features are rather short-sighted in my honest opinion. By that, I mean it would be phenomenal tool today, but makes no sense for the real “Governement 2.0” that will shortly be ready for tomorrow.

Frankly, any system/company/organization/person that sucks will fail as full transparency is taking over. We know this happening in the commercial world as we continue to see startups take over huge companies and industries (Netflix/Blockbuster, Pandora/radio Skype/phone). See Wikileaks, Mubarak.

Gov 2.0 = A New Startup

Imagine if Egypt came up with a new system that combined the best of communism but with zero government and laid a gamificattion model on top for incentive. Every citizen has a version of Tim’s app and they quickly the Egyptians build a phenomenal infrastructure and quality of life that (see Robert Kennedy’s quote on GNP) that is unparalleled throughout the world. Soon, neighboring countries Libya and Sudan emulate this and find the same success. It makes sense for Egypt, Libya and Sudan to combine the region since their is no power to be lost or gained, just more minds to extract creativity to tackle their regions challenges. The rest of the world soon catches on and develops their regions own version a new government. This eventually leads to world without and countries and government completely controlled by the people, segmented by geographical region.

First though, we need to be connected by our devices before we can connect mentally. Facebook and Twitter are doing this now, but only to a certain extent. We need an app like Tim’s to do so but without the archaic government systems of today preloaded in them.

“Imagine there’s no country. It’s easy if you try.” – John Lennon

Obviously this all hypothetical and Egypt may succumb to another bad regime in government, but either way, sooner or later, a new startup of a government system is going to knock out the current giants of capitalism and government-led communism.

The 8 Buckets of Social Media Monitoring

Last week I wrote a post What is a Community Manager and touched on what the Community Manager should be listening for.  Here, we’ll dive in deeper.  For most companies, essential personnel will include a Chief Listener or several listeners depending on the number of mentions.

During my time serving as Chief Listener for a social media monitoring and social business software, I learned a great deal from listening myself and by listening to our customers methods.  I eventually narrowed down every result and found that they fell into one or more of the  8 buckets of social media monitoring.

First, let’s take a look at  the type of terms and phrases that should you should be tracking.  I would separate these into folders and have several terms /phrases in each folder.  For some of these, I would recommend assigning real-time alerts (depending on your tool of choice) and others are solely used for measurement:

  • your company/organization*
  • your products
  • your events
  • your competitors
  • your competitors products
  • your industry
  • negative key terms (ie. your company + [fail or sucks or horrible]
  • executive team
  • potential acquisitions
  • partner companies
  • potential staff members

*I recommend tracking variations of your brand as well. For example, DD for Dunkin’ Donuts.

Here are the 8 buckets that I find these results to fall in that require timely action:

1.  PR – I break this into two categories if you have a PR team for your organization

  • PR1 –  The small flames that your community manager can handle and put out easy.
  • PR2 –  Major fires that need to be escalated to the executive or your PR team.

2.  Inbound Leads – How many community managers and listeners financially justify their position. Qualify and pass to the sales team if applicable.

3.  Customer Support – Here are the three categories I used.  All three would be responded to appropriately, but may be documented differently (prospects, customers).

4. Community Building – My personal favorite.  These are folks who are already customers, fans or show interest in your company or industry.  Try to connect with them on and point them towards your external community. If not, find out where they hang out and make sure you have a presence on their preferred platform.

5.  Competitive Intel – Keeping tabs on what the competition is doing.  Some results need immediate attention (acquisitions, releases etc) and others are bookmarked for those interested (Sales Enablement Team).  Results usually fall under product development as well.

6. Product Management – These results help measure the sentiment of how are products are doing.  Each product has a team and individual contact that should be notified of these results in a weekly or monthly package.

7.  Product Development/Market Intelligence – Seeing what the demands and needs are of customers and potential customers. The listener should sit in on product development meetings and share their knowledge.

8.  Human Resources – Finding talented personnel that would be great additions to your team.

Note: some results fall in two or more buckets. Also, some of the results from above are strictly for measurement and on-demand intelligence.

If you are having trouble scaling, hire more people!

My next post regarding social media monitoring will focus on what questions to ask when selecting a monitoring tool.

Thank you for reading and happy listening.