Social Media Data Reliability and Reporting
Klout, GNIP, and Inbound Marketing Resources
It’s been an interesting week!
1) The Ultimate Internet Image is proud to announce an interview with Jud Valeski, the CEO of GNIP (see feature below). The interview will be available Wednesday afternoon, September 1, 2010. Jud has been gracious enough to accept my invitation to an interview and I think it will be very interesting for anyone involved in inbound marketing and social media management. So, watch for it here tomorrow!
2) The Ultimate Internet Image’s new ebook, Inbound Marketing A through Z, is in final edit. If you haven’t subscribed to The Ultimate Internet Image, you can do so today and you will receive a free copy on September 8, 2010. The contest associated with the launch of the ebook closes on Spetember 7, 2010. So, in all fairness, we want to give people until midnight on September 7 to enter.
3) The contest is almost over! There are very few entries, which is surprising to me considering what the prizes are! Next time I will have to give away an iPad or a laptop. Anyway, check out our home page for a complete list of the prizes. The prizes include an Apple iPod, links, featured articles, and much more! Given how hard it is to get great backlinks…this should be a no-brainer! Give it a shot! What do you have to lose?
It just takes two steps:
- Comment with an appropriate A-Z success term (we will add it to the ebook if it is not there already)
- You’re entered!
4) I am looking for guest bloggers and interviews for upcoming articles and newsletters. If you are interested in not only getting some super exposure from one of the fastest rising inbound marketing sites online (no kidding…check out Alexa) and a quality link too boot?
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and place “Guest Interview” or “Guest Article” in the subject box so I don’t miss it.
5) I am not affiliated with any of the companies below, with the exception of Market Samurai. The only reason I am affiliated with Market Samurai is because I believe in and use their product; and, their service and support is excellent. Again, I am in no way affiliated with any of the other companies mentioned below!
On with the show!
The Inbound Marketing Week in Review
Social Media Klout
I do not want to start out on a negative note but I think we need to finish up with last week’s issues and then be doen with it once and for all. Happily, the Klout issue lead to exploring the Internet for solutions and I think I’ve come up with a pretty good one.
More to follow on GNIP below.
Back to Klout
I’ve received a lot of heat over the past week and most of it was focused on last week’s newsletter, The Inbound Marketing Week in Review: A Hard Look at Social Media Klout.
Interestingly, almost all of it focused on the questions I raised about Klout, the time lag reporting, and the overall reliability of its data. To put it precisely, I raised questions about its methodology and its reporting.
I also expressed concern that if applications such as TweetPivot, along with a myriad of others, are using Klout’s data as their data resource…how reliable can they be? By default, if Klout’s data is suspect? The whole pyramid comes tumbling down. Undoubtedly, there will be a ripple effect if the original data is flawed, either as a result of its reliability or as a consequence of the time lag in reporting.
The time lag seems to be a major issue with Klout!
Time Lag and Klout Data
Time lag for Klout is particularly problematic. Social media is fluid and constantly evolving; and, data that is over 3 weeks old, often up to 8 weeks old, is a major flaw in reporting.
I’ve received quite a few inquiries from subscribers via email, Skype IMs, social media comments, etc about this issue and just about everyone agrees. This is a challenge for Klout and one that needs to be resolved right away; and not in the “near future,” particularly because social media management companies and inbound marketing firms are using this data today.
Note: Please leave comments related to this issue here if you can. It does help to hear from you here; and, I get to your feedback just as quickly.
On this issue - I also heard from interested social media managers and inbound marketing consultants who had come across The Inbound Marketing Week in Review for the first time. Interestingly, many were impressed (thank you)…and a few questioned my sanity! It seems that while many have noticed the same issues with Klout’s data, they were not willing to stick their necks out and make the inconsistencies public.
Some told me so!
I guess I’m too old and have been around the block too many times to be worried about that sort of thing.
If it is wrong?
If you hear a rumor?
Go to the source!
That’s just the way I’ve always run my life and my businesses. Ultimately, people will respect you if you speak your mind. They may not like it, initially, but they will honor your honesty and integrity. Too often, particularly in business, we take the road of least resistence.
That is a dead end road!
Speak you mind, especially with your inbound marketing and social media clients. If you do, you will find your clients will respect you and your decisions.
Take the road of least resistance at your own peril!
No one, and I mean no one, respects a “Yes Man!”
Ultimately, speaking up is the only way anything ever gets fixed. And, like I’ve said, there is a ripple effect and a lot of people are depending on the integrity of that data.
If Klout’s data is flawed?
There are a number of other applications that will be less than reliable.
As I’ve said, it was an interesting week!
For those of you who have not taken the time to read it yet? Last week’s newsletter also introduced TweetPivot, a very interesting Twitter application. TweetPivot was created by Chris Arnold using Microsoft’s Pivot and shows real potential.
The Inbound Marketing Week in Review also introduced a very interesting search application called Spezify. Spezify is a unique, image-based search tool with broad applications. Spezify is image-based and fascinating, a really interesting resource with real possibilities for inbound marketing, social media, and beyond.
Ultimately, The Inbound Marketing Week in Review: A Hard Look at Social Media Klout has been a source of concern, controversy, attack, and praise over the past week.
TweetPivot and Chris Arnold
I want to personally thank and applaud Chris Arnold of TweetPivot for taking the time on his anniversary to share his perspective and to explain a bit about the evolution and the possible applications for TweetPivot. Chris and I had an interesting conversation and it was a pleasure to speak with him.
You can hear the entire Chris Arnold interview at:
Chris and I talked about where TweetPivot may be going next in terms of applications and he alluded to an upcoming announcement.
I will keep you posted!
We also discussed the possible applications, and implications, for social media. I think TweetPivot has real potential as a social media management resource, particularly for targeting key influencers visually.
TweetPivot is very interesting!
There can be little doubt that our world is becoming visually dominant; and, we are being influenced in large measure by imagery and video. TweetPivot, and the parent application Pivot, offer exciting possibilities for social media management and inbound marketing mainly because they are image-based.
However, the question that must be asked is:
I hate to keep dragging this up but…how reliable is Klout data?
Furthermore, if TweetPivot and so many others are using Klout as the foundation for their assumptions, how reliable can any of the reporting be?
Significantly, many have asked why this is an issue at all. Others have asked about the connection between Klout, TweetPivot, Twitter, social media management, and inbound marketing.
A Second and a Third Look at Klout
I thought I would give Klout another go!
I wanted to see what would happen over the next week; and, with not one but two updates. I have this thing about three strikes, in almost everything.
In other words, I feel anyone can screw up once and be given another chance. Even twice is OK…but I begin to have serious doubts after that second strike. However, if we get to strike three? Well, I think you know the answer to that one.
The Klout Updates: Strikes 2 and 3
The first update yielded absolutely no change in Klout Score whatsoever, at least not initially. Interestingly, it jumped to 38.6 after the newsletter came out.
Perhaps it was a hiccup in their reporting or they simply updated late?
Like I said, 3 strikes!
Sadly, the other metrics Klout uses to determine the overall Klout Score of a user, the individual factors, were off and remain off as of the final edit of this newsletter:
- True Reach
These factors are the basis for the Klout Score taken as a whole and as an expression of 25 variables!
Klout states that:
The size of your sphere is calculated by measuring True Reach (engaged followers and friends vs. spam bots, dead accounts, etc.). Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate retweets or spark a conversation. If your engaged followers are highly influential, you’ll have a high Network Score. The Klout score is highly correlated to link clicks, comments and retweets.
The Klout Score calculation is based on a rolling 30 day range from your last calculation date.
And there’s the rub:
“The Klout score is highly correlated to link clicks, comments and retweets….The Klout Score calculation is based on a rolling 30 day range from your last calculation date.”
However, not only was my last reported Influence Matrix (i.e., individuals Influenced By and Influencer Of) off the mark, substantiated by tracking DMs, @replies, RTs, and link clicks over a 90 day period and tracked back using several Twitter statistical applications (listed below), the Content Analysis, to include Topics and Tweets (i.e., Top ReTweets) and Sharing (i.e., Links) is also flawed.
To date, the latter Klout categories have not been updated and it can be demonstrated that the data reported is in error.
Interestingly, with the exception of one individual reported to be Influenced By or an Influencer Of, I have had zero contact with any of those mentioned by Klout in months…and yet I interact with people every day on Twitter!
In other words, the individuals that Klout presents as being part of my Twitterverse?
Those individuals I am influenced by?
I have not had contact with only one of the individuals Klout has listed…in MONTHS!
Last week I initiated contact with one of the individuals mentioned by Klout simply because I hadn’t heard from her in so long…and she is a subscriber. The Klout mention reminded me of that fact, albeit in a round about way, and I restablished contact.
A happy ending!
Influence and Klout Score
Your influence network shows who you influence and who influences you. Influence is determined by a variety of factors including retweets, @messages, follows, and lists.
If Klout is using this data to establish True Reach, Amplification, and Network, as it claims to be doing, then the overall Klout Score is a nice fiction and the Klout descriptions about as reliable as your daily horoscope.
The Sharing and Links reported August 30, 2010 have not changed since August 4, 2010 and reflect incorrect data (i.e., link clicks reported by Bit.ly and others).
Klout tells me I am a Syndicator:
You keep tabs on what’s trending and who’s important to watch. You share the best of this with your followers and save them from having to find what’s hot on their own. You probably focus on a specific topic or cater to a defined audience.
A week ago I was an Explorer:
You actively engage in the social web, constantly trying out new ways to interact and network. You’re exploring the ecosystem and making it work for you. Your level of activity and engagement shows you “get it,” we predict you’ll be moving up.
I get it!
This week’s analysis:
@JohnZajaros is effectively using social media to influence their network across a variety of topics.
@JohnZajaros has worked very hard to successfuly build a large, highly engaged network
@JohnZajaros is more likely to have their message amplified than the average person
@JohnZajaros is followed, listed, replied to and retweeted by influencers
Interestingly, the above-mentioned descriptions, with one exception, are different from those reported last week!
I don’t want to take up any more space with this but you can verify that for yourself at:
To double check the stats used by Klout, the ones I used in preparing this analysis, I suggest the following:
Twitter: Why not go to the authority? Just go to Search and type in RT Username and you will have an accurate report direct from the source.
Bit.ly: I use Bit.ly and it is quite accurate. Bit.ly does have limitations but is useful if used in concert with other resources.
Note: Everyone has their preference and reasons for using it. I would love to hear about your’s. Please leave a comment below and tell us why you like the URL shortening and tracking application you use and why. Perhaps it will grow into a feature for an upcoming newsletter.
Twitter Grader by Hubspot: This is one of the most reliable measures for Twitter influence and the data appears to be quite reliable. Check this out for a bit of a surprise!
TwitterCounter: Allows you to track the number of followers, friends, and so on; and, TwitterCounter allows you to compare users head-to-head or across multiple usernames.
Twitalyzer: This is an in depth score across a number of variables, all reported. Twitalyzer also uses the Klout Score…but as only as a single measure. In other words, it does not use the Klout Score alone but as part of an overall assessment and presentation.
TweetReach: “How far did your tweet travel?” With TweetReach you can track a Username, URL, phrase, keyword, or hashtag. TweetReach then analyzes the submission and reports the reach and the exposure for those tweets. This is a very nice resource for tracking individual tweets, links, RT, etc. TweetReach also offers TweetReach Pro for social media management firms and inbound marketing consulting companies…among others.
ReTweet Rank: ReTweetRank not only provides your RT data but also provides a glimpse into your rank relative to others using Twitter. This is a nice way to see how you compare across the Twitterverse as represented by percentile.
Backtweets: If you want to track a specific URL over a specified period of time or across the board? Backtweets will give you an accurate count of your tweets and RTs. If you want to see what is really happening with an URL after determining your Klout Score? Run the URL through Backtweets and you will get an accurate measure.
TweetStats: Great for tracking usage patterns and another way to see the data visually. Want to see when you are tweeting, precisely, and what? This is the application for it.
Re: TweetList: Another RT resource. Re:TweetList allows you to check RTs by way of a particular URL or Username.
RetweetRadar: This one offers a different look and can be quite useful. ReTweetRadar offers a very interesting cloud effect!
It is now my sincere pleasure to move on to something very positive and a resource that may just be the answer to all of the above!
Taking control of the data yourself may be just the thing.
So, I would like to introduce the featured application:
GNIP: The Social Media API!
GNIP describes itself as a social media aggregation tool. GNIP streams data from across social media. If you are considering a social media monitoring application, one you can tailor to your own unique requirements and specifications?
GNIP may be just the resource for you!
As stated on the GNIP website:
Gnip is a social media API aggregation tool.
If you’re building a social media monitoring application, give us a try. We stream social data from Twitter, Facebook, and dozens more sources — all in one API. From images to videos to microblogs, choose from our 100+ social media feeds. One Gnip subscription delivers up to 10 million social activities per day. Need more data? Get multiple subscriptions.
Gnip (pron. guh’-nip) is “ping” spelled backwards: instead of continually polling (or pinging) various APIs, have the results pushed to you from the social APIs you want, in original and Activity Streams formats.
You can take control of everything yourself, a wise decision if you can afford it. GNIP may be just the thing for your inbound marketing consultancy or social media management firm…if you are ready to take things to the next-level.
If you are tired of relying on others for your social media data?
Or, if you simply want to have your data tailored to your precise specifications; and, have your fingers on the pulse of social media, instead of getting it secondhand, GNIP may be the solution.
GNIP is not a social media monitoring company!
GNIP isn’t about handsome user interfaces, data analysis, and marketing customer support, as their website clearly states. GNIP offers you an incredible amount of raw data from a myriad of sources that you can then use to:
- Make well-informed business decisions based on data you control and interpret
- Build your own social media monitoring, visualization, and analysis tools
- Gain API access to all data
- Monitor more the 10 million social media activities daily
- Direct access to over 100 feeds of social media from a myriad of different sources
- And much more
While GNIP may seem pricey to some or not well-suited for smaller inbound marketing consulting companies or social media management firms, particularly for those just starting out, it is defintely worth looking at!
You can jump in the GNIP sandbox and give it a whirl for as little as $200 a month.
While the overall description of GNIP is beyond the scope of The Inbound Marketing Week in Review, the entire picture is but a click, email or phone call away.
I can tell you from experience, the staff at GNIP is accessible and responsive!
If for some reason GNIP is slightly out of reach right now, it is something to add to your wish list.
This is a resource you can use across social media and it has other applications, as well.
We will talk more about GNIP tomorrow in an interview with GNIP CEO Jud Valeski!
GNIP may seem like more than you want to handle but it is another option and one worth exploring, particularly once your inbound marketing or social media consulting firm gets to a certain size.
Ultimately, how you monitor social media is your decision!
However, we are all faced with certain challenges and obstacles. There are many different resources available to track various aspects of your social media campaign.
GNIP offers an incredible amount of social media data, all from one source and applied to your GNIP box as your individual requirements dictate.
The question of how reliable your data are, and how to translate the data into an intelligent and focused inbound marketing strategy and/or social media management campaign, remains a challenge…GNIP provides a solution!
As inbound marketing consultants, a significant portion of what we do is social media related, whether directly or indirectly. It is imperative that the data we are working with is reliable and up-to-date.
As you have witnessed above, that is not always the case!
Significantly, there is still a tremendous debate raging related to social media metrics and ROI.
The 100 million dollar social media question comes down to this:
What do we do with the data and how do we convert it into dollars?
I would argue the issue is more complex than many of the inbound marketing and social media authority sites would have inbound marketing consultants and social media managers believe.
The fact is that quite a lot of money, and an entire marketing industry, has grown up around social media and inbound marketing.
I have little doubt that social media is an integral part of almost any inbound marketing strategy but the question, and the challenge, remains:
How do we track and monetize social media?
Taking control of the data is one of the best solutions, if you have the capital and the infrastructure (staff and hardware) in place to do so.
Ultimately, it may cost you a lot less to fully commit to taking control of social media data, monitoring it yourself, and applying it as required than to trust an outside firm to do it for you.
Again, it is your decision but GNIP can make an attractive possibility a reality.
Look for the interview with Jud Valevski, CEO of GNIP!
This Week’s Inbound Marketing Resources
I had several resources to recommend but because this newsletter is already going way long – what else is new – I will introduce a couple of them here and then walk you through them over the week ahead.
Hopefully, I will include one or two audio interviews too boot…in addition to the GNIP CEO, Jud Valeski, interview mentioned above.
These resources are very interesting!
Market Samurai – Market Samurai is a reprise and, unless you have been on another planet, you’ve probably heard of it. Market Samurai is, in my opinion, the best keyword research and SEO competition research tool online today…and that includes Google’s free keyword tool. External or through AdWords.
Market Samurai has been mentioned as the top Internet product by Internet Marketing Report Card (IM Report Card) with 395 grades as of this writing and an A- grade overall. It has received rave reviews and has a free and a paid level. It is well worth the investment.
I use it daily!
EveryBlock – EveryBlock is a very interesting resource for inbound marketing consultants working in the area of local “offline” business, inbound marketing consulting. While limited to 16 major cities, it promises to add more…expanding its reach and its value in the process.
With EveryBlock, the self-designated “news feed for your block,” you can “track and discuss what’s new in your area.”
You can go to your city, provided its listed, and either type in your zip code or a neighborhood and explore. Or, you can simply explore the various neighborhoods listed via the links on the appropriate city’s home page.
For example, Boston offers:
- 26 Neighborhoods
- 51 ZIP Codes
- 4,511 Streets
- Business Reviews
- Real Estate Listings (residential and commercial)
- And more…including the ability to connect via phone app
I plan to do an in depth article about EveryBlock, its team, its focus, and where it is going in the near future, hopefully later this week….we’ll see!
If you get a chance, take a look at the site and tell me what you think. Your feedback will help me shape the questions I ask the people at EveryBlock.
I have 4 more really cool resources for you but I will get to those this week…
…so, stop back often!
Don’t forget to comment and let me know what you think.
Additionally, don’t forget to subscribe so you get a free copy of the Inbound Marketing A through Z, it will have useful information for anyone interested in making money online.
Also…enter the contest!
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
PS, Here is a very cool social media counter I discovered while searching out resources for this week’s Inbound Marketing Week in Review, it was created by Gary P Hayes. @GaryPHayes You may have seen this before but given the subject of the last two weeks, data, I thought it especially fitting! If you have any doubt about the possibilities available to social media management companies and inbound marketing firms? This should get rid of them…once and for all!