Monthly Archives: May 2010

Can You Have a Business Identity on Twitter?

Imagine a conversation, maybe a group of people standing around talking at a cocktail party or networking event. One of them wears a logo suit, like one of those mascot costumes, that hides the face and presents the person as the logo character only. Maybe it’s something like Ronald McDonald, or Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, or that Michelin tire character.

Zappos on TwitterWhat sort of conversation is that going to be? If the other people gathered around are people, representing themselves, how comfortable would they be with the logo character?

Let’s assume that all of the others are spouting points of view, equivalent to content. I’m there talking about business planning and small business, you’re there talking about your favorite topics, and we probably share opinions and suggestions about other topics that come up. So we’re aware of our business selves and our various sets of expertise; but we’re still people. And the logo characters aren’t. Or so it seems.

So I’m watching how this works.

I use the Zappos example in the illustration here because that’s an interesting compromise. We see the person behind the curtain, he or she even introduces themselves. That’s sort of like the person in the conversation wearing a company shirt, or name tag. I get it. I’m assuming we follow them, temporarily, if we have a customer service issue.

I see people identified with companies. Scott Monty of Ford, for example. Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Publishing. That seems to work well for them, and it works for me too. They’re the person, not the company. I follow them if I like what they’re saying.

I see companies that tweet as companies, announcing deals, sales, products, seminars, and so on, as companies. The moving taco stand tweeting its location. Those tweets don’t seem to come from people. I’d follow them if I had a customer reason to.

I still think the business side of Twitter works best for those individual experts who are there as people, but, when topics come up, people with experience and expertise and opinions. I’d like some, but jeez, I’d need to list hundreds of names. It’s the people tweeting that makes Twitter interesting, not the companies. For the people doing expert business as themselves, Twitter is a very powerful business-related conversational platform. That’s cool. But it’s still conversation that really works.

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?