Klout 14 Months Later: Still Unreliable and Erratic

The Klout Score Remains Unreliable

Klout Fails to Convince:

Perks, Influencers, K+ are Questionable

Over the past several months I have used Klout, analyzed Klout, scrutinized Klout! I embarked upon a year long study after ripping Klout in August of 2010.

See: Inbound Marketing Week in Review: A Hard Look at Social Media Klout: Inbound Marketing and Social Media Perspective and Review–Introducing Klout, TweetPivot, and Spezify!

Feeling I may have been too harsh, and desiring to be fair, I stepped back, took a deep breath, and then stepped back in.

Boy…did I step in…it!

Of one thing I am absolutely certain, the Klout Score has as much real value as a daily horoscope. It can also be argued, and quite convincingly I might add, that the horoscope is probably right more often…at least relative to your Klout Score.

@Klout can’t have it both ways!

If the old data was BS, the new system reflects that fact. If the data was reliable? Then Klout scores wouldn’t have changed quite so drastically…and overnight!

Significantly, one might be inclined to argue that Klout was either wrong then…or they are wrong now. In fact, I’d argue that it’s not merely a matter of either/or. I suggest that Klout has been consistently wrong!

Once again, Klout defines its lack of integrity, consistency, and value!

A detailed analysis of Klout “Influencers” confirms the pure fiction of the Klout score. In fact, Stephen King would be proud, and perhaps a little jealous given the upcoming launch of 11/22/63.

Influencers?

10 out of 10 people listed as influencing me have had little or no contact with me across any of my many social media profiles.

Dogs and Cats and Monsters…

…Oh my!

Incredibly, Klout has given a number of pets very high Klout scores. I guess the dogs are simply trying to get a leg up on the competition? Well, good for Klout…and good for a few good animals.

BTW, who is influencing Poochie? Or better yet, and perhaps more suggestive of just how ridiculous the whole Klout algorithm is, who is being influenced by Poochie?

Now that’s not silly, it’s sad!

The silliness of the daily Klout score has come full circle from the days when their data was clearly “hinky!”

And now I just don’t see the point!

We might as well read our horoscopes! They have the same grounding in reality…and may indeed be more accurate!

Ultimately, whether or not you follow your Klout score is up to you. Obviously!

I will leave you with this:

If social media is a new religion, the newest manifestation of an opiate for the masses, and the Internet along with it, then the Klout score must be viewed as a perverted attempt to establish a daily record. Ultimately, the Klout score is an indication of just how determined businesses, organizations, and government agencies are to define Internet usage, generally, and social media usage, in particular. The pursuit of metrics to define the value and impact of social media has become a multi-million dollar enterprise. Why? So companies can use the data collected to manipulate and control the buying behavior of the public, those individuals buying into this newest form of religion…social media.

See you on Twitter!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
440-821-7018

NOTE: When I mention religion, I am referring to it in its broadest, most figurative context. However, one can not help but notice the profound impact this new form of worship is having on individuals, groups, businesses, agencies; and yes, governments. Doubt me Thomas? Well, just take a look at what happened across the Middle East in the past year. Then tell me the Internet and social media didn’t have a profound impact on the very existence of governments. In our own backyards? And now across The Pond? The Occupy Wall Street movement has been fueled, in large measure, by the connections made via the Internet, generally; and, via social media, specifically. There is more to follow, much more. I simply hope we are not putting our faith in false gods. Or Klout scores!

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Interview with Chris Arnold: Social Media, Twitter, and TweetPivot

Follow Up with Chris Arnold, Founder of TweetPivot

Imagine the pleasure and surprise when I received an @Reply from Chris Arnold, founder and the brains behind TweetPivot first thing this morning!

Chris was responding to a feature I added to this week’s Inbound Marketing Week in Review: A Hard Look at Social Media Klout, a segment on one of the newest, and certainly one of the most creative Twitter applications to date!

Do you want to know what kind of a person Chris is?

Chris took time out of his evening, on his wedding anniversary, to spend time with me and answer questions I am certain most of my readers would like to have answered. Not only that, he left the door open for future conversations.

There is little doubt in my mind that TweetPivot has real potential on several levels!

Not only is TweetPivot intriguing and fun, it is a powerful information resource with real world marketing possibilities.

So, instead of taking up any more of your time, I thought I would simply add the interview and allow you to see for yourself just what TweetPivot is about and get some idea of where it is going.


Thank you for your continued support.

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
216-712-7004

PS, Don’t forget to subscribe to The Ultimate Internet Image. Subscribers will receive a free copy of Inbound Marketing A through Z on September 7, 2010.

PPS, Follow Chris Arnold @GoodCoffeeCode and check out his personal blog Good Coffee Good Code. You gotta love anyone who has listed as one of his favorite books The Lord of the Rings! I read it for the first time in the summer of 1971. Boy, all of the sudden I feel old!

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Inbound Marketing, Internet Usage Trends, and The Digital Future Report 2010

Marketing Myopia: Inbound Marketing, Hybrid Marketing, and the Offline World

While a recent blog post published on the Hubspot blog entitled Survey: 0% of Internet Users Would Pay for Twitter, written by Kip Bodnar, grabbed my attention for a number of reasons, including the title, there were several significant online advertising and Internet marketing takeaways to be derived from the post and the  original resource used for the post, The Digital Future Project 2010: Surveying The Digital Future YEAR NINE (see resources below).

The title took me back for about half a second because as an inbound marketing consultant I look at Twitter as a resource with multiple applications, a tool, a vehicle, and a means to an end.

Significantly, the majority of people do not view Twitter in those terms, they view Twitter as an end in-and-of-itself. Interestingly, most users look at Twitter as a way to communicate with the world 140 characters at a time, and they have no way to monetize it…nor do they want to.

That being said, a significant minority do engage in buying and selling behavior:

  • 42% of Twitter users use Twitter to find out about products and services
  • 41% provide opinions about products and services
  • 31% ask for opinions about products and services
  • 28% look for discounts
  • 21% purchase products and services
  • 19% seek customer support

These numbers are based on  Twitter Usage In America: 2010 – The Edison Research/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia Study by Tom Webster, VP of Strategy and Marketing for Edison Research. For more on this study , see the link to the video below under resources.

In fact, and here’s the kicker, most Twitter users look at marketing and the monetization of Twitter as an intrusion and an interruption. Incredibly, everything we mainatin as being wrong with outbound marketing (intrusion, interruption, etc), many Internet marketing “gurus” and inbound marketers (many in name only) are pulling the same shenanigans online.

Yup! Intrusion and interruption!

So, here is the million dollar question:

Where is the balance?

And, more to the point, how can we achieve a balance so we don’t alienate the prospective clients we are trying to attract while still getting our message out?

This is the typical marketing strategy on Twitter:

Throw up a Twitter page, throw up some links, Seth Godin calls it yodeling, I call it shouting (or something else) into the wind, tie into Twitter search for the keywords being targeted, watch for what is trending, and then:

Spam! Spam! Spam!

The same is now being done with Facebook Fan Pages, complete with lead capture systems, glitzy graphics, and giveaways.

All for the elusive…or not-so-elusive:

“Like!”

We have indeed taken the old stuff, thrown some whipped cream and sprinkles on it and created a very ugly and nasty tasting concoction…

A Meatball Sundae!

As I moved through the Hubspot post several questions popped into my head. That shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve read any of my previous work…or if you read the post critically, as I am ceratin many of you have. It wasn’t so much what was written in the Hubspot post as what was written in their resource material; and, what had been left out.

Whenever I see a quote, I always check the source for the “rest of the story.” I guess it is the scientist in me?

So, the Hubspot post lead me to the resource document and that really opened my eyes! Then, the resource document led me to an additional worldwide report (see link below) and a number of additional issues, questions, and challenges surfaced.

Ultimately, the Hubspot post turned out to be the tip of a virtual Mount Everest-sized inbound marketing iceberg!

I was going in several different directions by then.

I will explore several of the issues below but the main takeaway from the Hubspot post had to do with something I have been writing and talking about for some time now:

I call it marketing myopia but it may also be referred to as inbound marketing myopia!

This is a huge marketing takeaway!

Marketing myopia has to do with bias. Because inbound marketing consultants work with the Internet each and every day, we tend to think everyone else does…and they do not!

While an increasingly large number of households have Internet access and approximately 82-84% of all Americans use the Internet to some degree (numbers vary with source), the degree of usage is a crucial factor…as is the age cohort, the demographic group of the individual or individuals and how they fit into your marketing.

In other words, are they part of your target market?

I will attempt to explain how marketing myopia, and in particular inbound marketing myopia, relates to what we do as inbound marketing consultants. And, I will also attempt to explain how our perspective, and our approach to marketing our client’s message, their USP (unique selling proposition) and their brand, have a direct impact on our results and, consequently, on our marketing client’s Internet image and their brand.

While marketing myopia isn’t mentioned in the Hubspot post per se, what is mentioned are some of the findings of a University of Southern Califiornia (USC) study conducted by Jeffrey Cole, Director of the Center for Digital Future at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Dr. Cole has been at the forefront of media and communications research for decades and is recognized internationally as one of the authories in the field.

Interestingly, the findings of the USC study point to what I have been referring to for some time and seem to validate my point that unless a balanced approach to advertising across channels is applied to a client’s marketing strategy, we are doing them a grave disservice.

In other words, marketing has less to do with us versus them, this versus that, inbound versus outbound.

Marketing is about what works. Marketing is about what effectively develops our client’s overall image and their Internet image over time. Marketing is about brand awareness. And, of course, marketing is about sales over time leading to an ongoing relationship and a healthy bottom line.

Marketing is a balancing act and marketing is about reaching your client’s target audience with a message they will be receptive to and will act upon.

In other words:

  • Views
  • Clicks
  • Comments
  • Feedback
  • Leads
  • Appointments
  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Sales
  • Upsells
  • Downsells
  • Referrals
  • Ongoing Relationship
  • Profitability

Yes, it is true that we have witnessed a paradigm shift and many are now fully invested in what has been referred to as the new media and permission marketing. We have witnessed the rapid evolution of permission marketing. We have also witnessed several offshoots and now we have:

  • Permission Marketing
  • Relationship Marketing
  • New Media Marketing
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Web 2.0
  • And  so on!

While we have witnessed all of this and more, and this is significant, there remains another world out there, an offline world, and it would be folley, particularly as marketers, to ignore it.

The challenge is, as it has always been:

How to do effectively reach ALL of our clients’ target markets?

The Good Ole Days and Outbound Marketing

I remember the good ole days, and Seth Godin alludes to them right off the bat in his book Meatball Sundae, it was 1964 and all you had to do was throw enough money at an average product and you were set. In fact, the same was true in 1974 and even in 1984…down turns, oil embargos, and recessions aside.

Publish a full page spread in the Sunday Plain Dealer or the Chicago Tribune or the New York Times (if you had really deep pockets) and you were set. In fact, all you had to do was sit back and wait for the traffic because it was pretty much a done deal!

There were “Invitation Only Sunday Sales” at car dealerships, all done by direct mail. Invitees stood in lines, many times for 2 or 3 hours, for a $500 savings and free steak knives!

Better still?

If you got your commercial on Bonanza or the FBI, “Starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr.,” on Sunday nights?

You could make book that Monday morning you would be busy taking orders, a lot of orders. Those two shows, and others like them, were family institutions and the equivalent of a Super Bowl ad playing once a week.

The world was different and those days are gone!

Or are they?

***I would argue there are a lot of people who still sit down and watch American Idol and Criminal Minds, there are still people who sit down on Sunday morning with a cup of coffee or a can of Diet Coke and read the New York Times, there are people who still listen to their favorite radio station, and there are still people who get home from work and the first thing out of their mouth is:

Yup!

“Did we get any mail?”

There are people who have a computer but rarely turn it on, there are people who can’t set up an email account and have no inclination to learn now, and there are people that will never use a cell phone, will never send an Instant Message, have no idea what Skype is, have no idea what a tweet is, and they still think MySpace is a website for kids!

OK! Back to the future!

The 1950s through the early 1970s were the Wild Wild West for many advertising, marketing, and PR firms, particularly the 50s and 60s. Things remained good through the late 1980s, with the exception of a few hiccups in the economy.

Embargoes, Recessions, and Carter…Oh my!

In the old days, advertisers had a captive audience and, as long as we (advertising firms) put our clients’ products in front of viewers enough times, we looked like heroes.

Radio stations synced their ads at specific times, so there was no running away from them, you could flip stations but just got more of the same, more commercials. Television shows all had their commercial breaks at the same moments so, other than a bathroom break, you weren’t likely to stray to another channel, at least until cable came along and ruined the party…and the monopoly on your time.

As a result, we lived with the intrusions, we lived with the commercials. Some people bought 8-track tapes, cassettes, and then CDs. Or they bought VHS tapes, then DVDs, and finally Blue Ray and HDDVDs…and so on.

I would suggest there is a very large segment of our population that still lives in the offline world and avoids intrusions in the old fashioned way.

Is it shrinking? To be sure!

But it is still there and they can only be reached by effectively marketing to them in addition to your inbound marketing strategies.

Heresy?

Perhaps. But it is also reality.

There are two worlds and you must market to both!

Enter the Internet, New Media, and Inbound Marketing

The Digital Future Report 2010

  • Americans: Over the 80% barrier. 82% of all Americans use the Internet in some way.
  • 19 Hours Weekly: While the average time per week is 19 hours and 66% of all Americans report having used the Internet for more than a decade, the most significant gains have been the year-to-year gains over the past 2 years.
  • Internet Usage and Age-Related Trends: Interestingly, 100% of individuals under 24 years of age report Internet usage (saturation due to expose in schools?). The report notes that a surprisingly high number of individuals from age 36 through 55 are not Internet users. In the age bracket from 36 to 45 years of age 15% are non-users. The age bracket from 46 to 55 shows 19% of all Americans in that age cohort are non-users.
  • Incredibly, while the youngest age cohort, the under 24 years of age grouping, has accepted and uses the new media, the majority of the remaining groups go not (and this too goes along with what I’ve been saying about marketing myopia and two worlds):
    • 24 years of age and older: 50% do not use Instant Messaging (IM)
    • 24 years of age and older: 79% do not work on a blog
    • 24 years of age and older: 80% do not participate bin cat rooms
    • 24 years of age and older: 85% do not make or receive phone calls online

Marketing Myopia

One can only guess what the numbers look like for other forms of new media. Once again, this makes my point about their being in fact two worlds and focusing on one (inbound marketing) to the exclusion of the other (through other effective forms of advertising) is folly and leaves a huge gap in your market strategy. You will fail to reach a large portion of your client’s target audience…particularly if they are older.

  • Technophobe versus Technophile: The techophobes are gaining ground! The longstanding debate has taken an interesting turn and, of the individuals 16 years of age and older who thought that communication technology made the world a better place in 2002 (66%), now only 56% believe we are better for the communication technology we share. Interestingly, the gains made in the eight year period from 2002 through 2010, when the study was released, are disproportionately vast when viewed against the gains of the previous decade…and yet we seem to be going backwards. Are we in for a technological backlash? And, what sort of implications would that have for inbound marketing?
  • Politics and the Internet: The most interesting case of Internet usage for political gain is the last Presidential election in the United States.  Perry Marshall offers an interesting recording of a discussion he had with David Bullock. Bullock de-constructed the Obama campaign one slice at a time and the results are interesting, to put it mildly.
    • Interestingly, The Digital Future Project 2010 report states that while 70% of all users agree that the Internet is an important component in political campaigns, significantly less than half (29%) believe it will give people more say in government and less still (27%) believe politicians will be any more responsive or will care more about what people think.

The Internet and Buying Behavior

  • Buying Online: 65% of all adult Internet users make purchases online. Interestingly, this number has not increased since 2008. That means that of an estimated population of 310,232,863 (CIA July 2010 est) with 15 years of age and over population of 247,852,853, adjusting for those individuals between 15 and 18, approximately 97,500,000 adults make an average of 35.2 purchases per year online, up from 34.1% in 2008. That’s a staggering 3,432,000,000 purchases per year in the United States alone! That’s 3 and one-half billion, with a “B,” purchases annually. Not dollars…purchases. The dollar amounts are mind-boggling!
    • What goes to my argument about marketing myopia is that 35% of the adult buying population is not being accounted for. Think about those buying numbers, particularly in light of the fact that they are likely to be generated by the older and more-affluent portion of the age cohorts from 36 to 45, 46 to 55, and 56 to 65. These are the age cohorts using the Internet less and yet they are a huge part of the economy. Marketing myopia?
    • And this is huge, the buying behavior of teens is not adequately accounted for in this study. This oversight may be a major flaw in this research. Teen buying behavior, given a 100% penetration as far as usage goes, cannot be overlooked.
  • Internet Sales Impact on Traditional Brick and Mortar Retail Business: If 82% of all Americans use the Internet and 61% have said they purchase less through traditional retail stores as a result of their online buying (down from 69% in 2008, interesting, perhaps the novelty has worn off for some?), what does this trend suggest even if reversed slightly of late? Depending on what set of figures you use, 124,000,000 people (being conservative) are buying less “at the store.” In this instance, the numbers      suggest that if traditional brick and mortar businesses do not make the shift and create an Internet image many will be extinct in less than 5 years, probably less than 3. Well, the picture is not rosy, is it?
  • Purchases Online – Top 10 Internet: If you are an inbound marketing consultant and you are working with brick and mortar retail clients in these niches? Get them online yesterday!
    • 59% Books and Clothing
    • 55% Misc Gifts
    • 53% Travel
    • 47% Electronics and Appliances
    • 46% Videos
    • 41% Computers and Peripherals
    • 40% Software or Games
    • 40% CDs
    • 38% Hobby Supplies

The Center for the Digital Future study noted above and entitled The Digital Future Project 2010 has 203 pages of useful data. The research in the study can be used to better inform your marketing clients. The highlights of this report are available free but the full report or reports, there is also the World Internet Project 2010 report, are only available in complete form as part of a license purchase running anywhere from $500 for an Individual License of a single report to $2000 for a Corporate License for both reports.

The report is worth the investment, both in terms of time and dollars. The Digital Future Project is the most important and longest running longitudinal study focusing on Internet usage and the impact of usage behavior, trust, trends, advertising, and marketing online.

In other words, this is a must for anyone engaged in advertising and marketing consulting…and particularly for inbound marketing consultants.

Ultimately, the Hubspot post, the other resources they used, and the reports I added here to bring you this overview are all suggestive.

Marketing is still in a transitional period and the ultimate reality may be very different from the one we are experiencing today.

How will it differ?

I would suggest a hybrid marketing approach will emerge. I believe the hybrid marketing strategy will offset the current Internet marketing – inbound marketing mania or craze we are currently in. The love affair with the new media and Web 2.0!

Why? Because it is the nature of the beast!

We have a tendency, particularly in the United States to:

  • Adopt something wholeheartedly, often to an extreme.
  • Then, after a period of time there is a knee-jerk reaction, a tendency to sway back in the opposite direction, almost as a correction for going overboard to begin with.
  • Finally, we achieve a balance, something we would have created to begin with if we hadn’t been so darned excited about the new stuff….the new toppings…the new media.

Much of what we see will be gone in 5 years, in 10 years we will laugh at ourselves for our foolishness.

Doubt me? Think about some of the trends we have jumped in on with both feet and lived to regret…or at least laugh about.

In the meantime we have to figure out how best to serve our clients with the resources we have. As marketing consultants our responsibility isn’t to the communication vehicle, it isn’t to the media, it’s to the client!

If it takes jumping upside down on green bananas to get the job done you have a choice…don’t you?

Right now the green bananas are Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Vimeo and EzineArticles and so many more for the inbound marketing consultant. And, they remain well-designed and well-thought out direct mail pieces and campaigns, follow up thank you cards, asking for referrals and then following up on them, tracking traffic onsite and engaging walk-in traffic so you can track them whether they make a purchase on the first visit or not, and a myriad of other tried-and-true marketing methods that work. and that cannot be considered inbound, and are perhaps not strictly outbound, although some are, and they work!

Actually, there is enough here for several books on marketing. In fact, there have been several very good ones written on inbound marketing. There is also a lot of other “stuff” out there, “stuff” (the four letter kind) that is a complete waste of your time and mine. And that is the topic of another blog post, a post on trust and the quality of online material. Many people are losing faith, they simply do not trust what they read online to be useful and accurate.

Everything I have written here can be verified and I have posted the links below, something I rarely do. However, this material is important and it is very dense. So, it may be helpful to walk in my shoes and discover, as I have, that there is another picture out there and it hasn’t fully developed yet.

One thing is for sure…it will be interesting. Marketing is never dull!

I hope you will comment on what you have read here…if you are still reading! If you are, thank you…it is appreciated! Please, provide your own insight. It will greatly enhance ever reader’s time here.

Thanks for stopping, for reading, and, hopefully, for commenting!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Skype: johnzajaros1
216-712-7004

Inbound Marketing and Communication Media Resources

The Ultimate Internet Image, Inbound Marketing: Twitter Usage 2010 Video by Edison Research

Main Page of The Center for the Digital Future

The Digital Future Project 2010 (link to highlights and full report)

Ericsson’s 2020 Shaping Ideas (Very Useful and Insightful)

The World Internet Project International Report 2010 (303 pgs, 463 Graphs, 9 Major Areas of Study, 87 Specific Subjects and Detailed Responses)

Hubspot: 0% of Internet Users Would pay for Twitter

Dave Bullock’s Report on the Obama Campaign and the De-Construction of Social Media

Perry Marshall’s Interview of Dave Bullock Re: Obama’s Social Media Campaign

CIA Population Statistics

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Understanding LinkedIn: An Integral Aspect of the Ultimate Internet Image

Launched in 2003, LinkedIn is a professional networking site with a membership of over 40 million and growing daily. While it is a form of social media, Web 2.0, LinkedIn serves a more definitive role as a relationship building tool and as a business networking community, one often under-utilized.

The networking platform has the same basic features as other Web 2.0 sites ¬– members create a profile, list their educational and employment experience, interests, upload a picture, post a link to their website or blog…the usual information. Interestingly, while immensely popular with business and professional people, many members are yet unaware of the full power of the networking platform, as well as the various capabilities and features of available to LinkedIn members.

Business Identity: Internet and Offline Image

In addition to the social aspects of LinkedIn, the site is regularly visited by those seeking confirmation of an individual’s credentials and reputation, not only within LinkedIn, but as an established entity in the business community. Lack of a LinkedIn profile may be quite costly and many who have yet to fully develop their LinkedIn identity may be missing a real opportunity for exposure and validation. LinkedIn is an excellent place to develop and enhance your online identity, your Internet image, per se.

LinkedIn’s Influence

LinkedIn’s power, once recognized and fully appreciated, is quite persuasive. LinkedIn is heavily trafficked not only by human resource personnel but by prospective clients and customers seeking additional information during the information gathering stages of a relationship. In fact, all 500 of the Fortune 500 companies are represented on LinkedIn. Social media and networking platform to be sure, but it is also a wonderful marketplace for those seeking employees and employment, including freelancers looking for new relationships and assignments.

LinkedIn’s Profile: Your Online Resume

The LinkedIn profile is your executive resume online and should be treated as such. The profile is the first impression, either a great one that states “I am someone to be taken seriously” or, conversely, “I am incomplete, look elsewhere!” For this reason, the profile should be as professional and as thorough as possible. When developing your online image, list your current or last held position, as well as past companies and affiliations. Set your profile to “Full View,” in order to make your information available for search engines to index, and customize your public profile’s URL to be your actual name, not some obscure nickname; in other words, brand yourself. This can all be quite easily accomplished through the “Accounts & Settings” tab under “Public Profile”. Including a link to your LinkedIn profile in your email signature, and also when you comment on blogs, are great ways to improve your connect-ability and your professional identity.

LinkedIn and Connections: The Power of the Network

Probably the most important aspect of a LinkedIn membership is the ability to make connections. Connections are to LinkedIn, what followers are to Twitter, and friends are to Facebook. Significantly, there is data to suggest that the “link” between connections on LinkedIn has a much greater and lasting effect, and affect, than either of the two aforementioned social media platforms.

LinkedIn’s Reach

LinkedIn members, those who are “linked-in,” build a contact network by inviting others, users and non-users, to become a part of their network. Members join a network by agreeing to “connect” and non-users may join, and take advantage of a wide array of benefits, depending on membership level, or create a public profile at no charge with limited access to the features of the paid membership. Your profile will also assist past and present associates, clients and partners in finding you. Features can assist members link-up with past employers and employees, various alumni groups, and other associations and groups. An individual’s network is then built based on connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know through 3 levels. Making connections in this fashion is designed to build trust among members, and has the potential to link you to tens of thousands of professionals. People are more likely to do business with or hire someone who comes recommended by another individual or company who they know and trust.

LinkedIn and the Power of the Group

If you would like to connect specifically with members based on interests, affiliations and goals, you can also join or create a LinkedIn Group. LinkedIn groups can be created by anyone for any purpose. The most popular groups are those with a networking focus, primarily networking with others in a specific area of expertise. After networking, professional education and information sharing are very popular group memberships. Basically, the possibilities are endless when it comes to group formation and affiliation, if two or more people come together, a group is formed.
LinkedIn’s “Advanced Search” feature can be a valuable tool whether you are seeking a new position, or want to assess the competition, research a perspective employer’s current workforce and turnover rate, or get to know more about the individual interests and accomplishments of those you may be considering working with. You can also use the “Advanced Search” to find people with similar education backgrounds and/or technical skills; and, to find out what companies they are currently employed by, or see who within your network may be initiating a new startup. The possibilities for using the LinkedIn search are myriad, it is a powerful information gathering tool when applied properly.

LinkedIn Answers: Ask and It Shall Be Answered!

The newest feature to be added to the site, “LinkedIn Answers,” allows you to ask for advice. Members can broadcast a business-related question and seek responses from both their network and the greater LinkedIn network. Let’s say you were looking for an accountant qualified in a certain area, or trying to gauge the appropriate salary range for a particular position, this would be an excellent forum from which to receive valuable responses.

Some other interesting statistics to consider when weighing the value of getting LinkedIn:

- People with twenty or more connections are over 30 times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity
- A company’s decision maker tends to be the more active user of the site
- The greater the number of connections the greater the likelihood of higher personal income

The Ultimate Internet Image and LinkedIn: Recommendations and Referrals

One of the most attractive features of a LinkedIn membership is the ability to give and receive recommendations. The recommendations are not only in the nature of peer reviews and recommendations but also recommendations from business clients, associates, colleagues, and employers. The LinkedIn recommendation, received in such a manner, is an invaluable tool not only in job-seeking but as an image and business building tool. The public nature and cumulative effect of such recommendations adds additional weight and value to the recommendation, not only enhancing one’s status and reputation within the LinkedIn community, but as a tool to be used by anyone seeking an objective evaluation of the individual’s credibility and competence, given by his or her peers.

LinkedIn: Do Not Be Caught Online Without It!

Overall, the LinkedIn membership is a vital asset for any business person, online or offline, interested in building a network for personal promotion and advancement, as well as for the promotion of business interests. LinkedIn membership is also a not-so-subtle message to anyone interested that an individual is at least established enough to have taken the time to build a relationship with his or her peers and to have been recognized as a colleague and a peer by those interested enough to make a connection with them. The connection, an active process of approval within the LinkedIn community, further validates the status of the individual members within the business community…or at least within the LinkedIn membership, which is basically one and the same. Ultimately, no serious marketer with an online presence should be without a LinkedIn membership and an active and engaging profile; thus assuring the Ultimate Internet Image!

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr., CEO and Founder
216-712-6526
Skype: johnzajaros1
johnz@johnzajaros.com
johnz@ultimateinternetimage.com

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The Ultimate Internet Image: Social Media, Sales and Marketing Part I

The merging of a comprehensive social media marketing strategy, also referred to by many as Web 2.0 marketing, with an overarching, inbound marketing campaign is crucial if our goal is to fully optimize advertising and marketing strategies online. The Internet marketing campaign, both in terms of monetization and branding, must reflect an understanding as well as a synthesis, an integration of the various tools, applications, and platforms available and necessary for an effective inbound marketing campaign. In order to achieve the ultimate Internet image, in other words, in order to effectively brand yourself and your product, you must pursue and implement a program designed to optimize the best Web 2.0 has to offer with various other “new media,” Internet marketing techniques (e.g., email marketing, on-site marketing, affiliate marketing, free advertising, etc). In order to fully exploit the growing popularity of social media generally, and certain social networking and video-sharing sites specifically, it must be understood that there is a major sift underway, a transition taking place on the Internet today. While I have addressed this transition at some length in previous articles, I will review and also discuss the various usage trends evident on the web, particularly as they relate to new media and online business.

Social Media and the Twitter Hawks’ Promise!

Social networking sites are myriad, with more popping up every day. Social bookmarking and video-sharing sites are just as plentiful. That being the case, it is imperative we understand the transition and the trends underway and ongoing if, as Internet marketers, we wish to take advantage of the veritable gold rush underway on the web today. However, a word of caution! While I use the phrase gold rush, I must add a caveat. Without the proper understanding, preparation, and an intelligent, well thought out inbound marketing strategy, the online campaign will come up bust every time.

Vanishing: Attrition and Social Media

There are marketers disappearing as fast as they appear, 60% attrition from Twitter at last report, because they simply do not understand the intricacies, the balance, and the psychology underlying this rush to gold. Certainly it is true that not all of the 60% are or ever were marketers but the drop off is illustrative of just how fast the attraction and the luster fades. Interestingly, certain social media sites have come, and others gone, while you read this article, some fading into oblivion and others popping up to take their place.

The Twitter Gold Rush

Many of the Twitter marketers (i.e., Twits, Twitterers or Tweeple) find out quite rapidly that a simple link doesn’t convert as well as the Twitter Hawks, I term I coined to label those individuals selling the dream, the “picks and shovels” to Tweeple looking to cash in on the Internet version of the California Gold Rush or was it the Alaska Gold Rush? Many soon discover it takes more than a metaphorical pick and shovel, meaning the latest load of rehashed and replayed Twitter marketing “stuff,” a lot nicer than the four letter word I was considering for a lot of it, from one of the myriad of Twitter marketing “gurus,” some with almost no followers and following even fewer…but they are experts? The Twitter Hawks out there are just waiting for the next 49er to come along, dreaming of gold and panning for it on Twitter, facebook, or perhaps YouTube.

Twitter and Four Letter Words,br>

I mention Twitter because it is illustrative and symptomatic of a much deeper problem on the web generally, and within social media specifically. I am speaking of what rests at the very base, in fact is the basis of any effective marketing campaign, online or offline traditional brick and mortar, anywhere in the world, and in any field. The problem has to do with a clear lack of understanding of the sales process. Yes, we call it all kinds of fancy names in order to avoid saying the “S” word, that four letter word everyone hates. You see, S…E…L…L…is the ultimate four letter word! “I can’t SELL!” “Do I have to SELL anything?” “Will it involve having to SELL something?” “I didn’t know I’d have to SELL anything!” The best one, “He just wants to SELL me something!” The list goes on and the italicized emphasis placed on the four letter word doesn’t do the disdain, the utter contempt, the revulsion and/or the fear associated with the word justice. But it the best I can do.

I am certain you can hear people in your mind as you read the quotes, these are real and I have heard them all, so have most of you. Have you ever uttered any of the above quotes? Certainly! We don’t like to be S…O…L…D…we like to buy! The irony here should be immediately apparent. In order for you to buy anything, someone else has to do that four letter word to you. Interesting!

The S…A…L…E…and the Sales Process

We refer to the sales process, selling and sales, in many different ways, some are: online business; Internet marketing; inbound marketing; new media marketing; old media and/or outbound advertising; and, just about anything else but what it is, a S…A…L…E!
Significantly, what many are talking about when speaking of sales and marketing is getting someone to take out their wallet and plunk down some cash. Interestingly, a sale is more than just an action and a transaction, much more! You see, you are selling when you get someone to donate their time, listen to your teleseminar, follow your tweets, check out a favorite quote, read a book you recommend, click on your link, join you on LinkedIn or facebook or friendfeed, etc.

It’s About Selling!

So, whatever you do, wherever you do it, most of it is selling. Sometimes sales is about cash, occasionally a lot of cash! And that may actually retard the selling process, we will talk about why in a upcoming article, but selling is not about the cash, it never is, never has been. Cash is a byproduct of the sale, small letters and no emphasis. Sales is about what makes sites like Twitter and facebook and the hundreds of others popular, it’s about the connection, the relationship, the bond that forms before most sales are ever made. Let me say that again…

…it’s about the connection, the relationship, the bond!

Tweeple, the S…A…L…E…and Self

Unfortunately, many Tweeple, in fact most people new to sales, advertising, and marketing simply do not have what it takes to make a sale, much less a S…A…L…E! There is a secret to selling and I am going to share it with you here. I’m going to share it with you so you too may have the success I have had over the years, as a direct result of selling. Yes, selling! You see, life is a sales and marketing process, all of it. If you are successful at selling your self, you will find a mate. If you are successful at selling your self, you will get a good job. If you are successful at selling your self, your kids will listen to and respect you. If you are successful at selling your self, the youth soccer team you coach will listen to you…and they may even win a game or two. Get the idea? Life is a sales process, every hour or every day…sales!

The Other Four Letter Word!

Did you notice something else? S…E…L…F…is also a four letter word, one just as detrimental to the sales process as the word S…E…L…L! So, get your S…E…L…F…out of the sales process and make your prospective client’s self-interest your focus!

The Secret and The Close…Another Four Letter Word

Oh yeah! The secret? The secret is two-fold and you have the answer above. The secret is that there is no sales process! If you attempt to S…E…L…L…anything, you will fail. Yes, you may close the S…A…L…E, and close should be another four letter word. A lasting relationship, one built on a connection and a bond, means you will have a steady client, referrals, and repeat business. The close? Closing someone leads to cancellations, an unhappy client, and clients focused on one thing, price! The price fixation is never a good situation, always a bad S…A…L…E!

It’s About 3 Things!

Selling is about what? Yes, that’s right! The sales process is all about the connection, the relationship, and the bond. I have always been an unconventional salesman. I have never followed a sales script, never. If an employer wanted me to follow a script, the script I followed was an exit script. Why? You already know the answer! I made a connection, that connection led to a relationship, that relationship led to a bond, and the bond allowed for trust, the trust enabled the sales process to culminate in another relationship, one based on a relationship combined with self interest, the client’s self interest…not my S…E…L…F, and certainly not because I made a S…A…L…E!

Internet Image and Social Media

Inbound marketing is a process, it begins with a connection, the connection leads to a relationship, the relationship leads to a bond, and once a bond is formed, another type of relationship builds, a mutual one, one profitable to both parties. Social media is an integral component in the connection/relationship/bond building model, but just one aspect, one ingredient. In fact, there are several key components, all necessary if a traditional brick and mortar business is making the move to an online presence or an Internet marketing concern is stepping up its Internet image. In either case there is one absolute, social media is about the connection and the beginnings of a relationship, to achieve the next component, the bond, the business, offline or online, will require additional steps to ensure its success. In the upcoming three articles we will deal with the various aspects of social media, social bookmarking, and video-sharing sites. Next, in Part II, we will discuss the various social media platforms and how to best integrate them into what will become the ultimate Internet image!

Contact The Ultimate Internet Image for a free comprehensive analysis!

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
216-712-6526
Skype: johnzajaros1
johnz@ultimateinternetimage.com

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