Jun 7, 2014

Will New gTLDS be Profitable Investments? Will they Sell and Scale?

By: Dianne Heath
June 7, 2014

The introduction of new gtlds is routinely compared to the advent of the dot com and its widespread adoption by the public, even the less tech savvy. However these comparisons are somewhat baseless and deceptive because we can't assume that the new gltds will have the same type of success as dot com or dethrone its significance without considering the differences in conditions and studying the interaction of circumstances that led to the dot com boom. For example, domain and website companies didn't need cumbersome separate advertising expenditures to vouch for the dot com; it was simply how you got online. Companies just needed to advertise the benefits of developing a website, generate excitement to be a part of the internet and it was inferred that a dot com meant a credible web presence. Also, the 90's were a supremely different economically and culturally than now.

To not openly acknowledge this and tout new gltds as a new innovation that is supplying assumed customer demand, which has vastly evolved, is quasi fraudulent. There are several obstacles that need to be confronted before presuming new gtlds will scale and be consistently used by millions and not just thousands of stale investments.

Old model of online ventures is saturated: New gltds are mismatched with their market and doesn't directly cater to the appropriate demographics. In the 90's, the internet was unfettered territory and thus there were high incentives for early adopters to compete. New gltds will have competition with millions of dot com websites. Acquiring a domain name is the least of their problems. Since the old model of online ventures is saturated, the high tech skilled entrepreneurs are moving on to more profitable and less competitive ventures such as apps. For ambitious entrepreneurs that still desire to build a platform online, we can't assume that an appealing domain name is the highest barrier to entry but rather an exciting, innovative idea or concept that attracts investors.

Also ambitious individuals with technical skills have cushy and prestigious career opportunities that sharply diminishes the need to embark on the perilous startup journey. In the 90's, the tech industry was still blossoming but now they are billion dollar industries that are extracting the top tech talent from the job and start-up market, and possible customers for new gtlds. 

Need small and midsize businesses use but these demographics are difficult to reach: Small and midsized businesses can intimately scale new gtlds to individuals by word of mouth and by example. However before this commences there needs to be initiative from renowned companies widely recognized and even celebrated as industry leaders with the disposable revenue and talent to make the risky investment. Once industry leaders take the plunge, admiring and competitive small and midsize businesses will be more eager to follow along to as the community and regional innovator. Industry leaders transfer importance, trust and prestige to new developments while traditional small and midsize businesses don't have the clout, recognition and budgets to buffer the risk and  burden of getting the nation to adopt a new developments. However the outlook for this initiative by industry leaders are dim since they are settled in and invested in dot coms. The future for dot brand, like .google, appears very promising but they eclipse the budget of small and midsize businesses. Since these companies probably won't win privileged and exclusive control of dot generics, like Amazon in the .book debacle, they have hardly any vested interest in guaranteeing its success. The fact that industry leaders are not moving to new gtlds sends an implicit message about their lack of significance. It exposes new gltds as the cheap option compared to dot com or dot brand and to be avoided especially since small and midsize businesses have to work harder to gain status and legitimacy. If industry leaders are not heavily involved then under-resourced and time constrained small and midsize businesses won't have the adequate guidance on how to use new gtlds. 

Claiming new gtlds will have widespread adoption also ignores the predominance of social media site such as Tumblr. Before there were active fan sites for celebrities now it is official Facebook pages and Twitter. Before there were personal bloggers and now there's Instagram where people can showcase their lives like a glossy lifestyle magazine. Social media takes a huge chunk out of key demographics that would build visible and active websites on new gtlds.

Needs widespread authentic use to build prestige, trust and familiarity: The advent of the dot com and even dot edu resulted in naive, non-scripted and experimental success stories of early adopters that convinced others to overcome their hesitation. Many did not know about domain investing and ironically that's precisely why the dot com begin to build in value after several years because value comes from use. Without the eventual and widespread authentic use of dot com, generic domain names such as finance.com would have never been valuable. Visible and admirable success stories centered on new gtlds risk being overwhelmed and crowded out by more established dot com websites that have a 10 year head start. While dot com hit the ground running, new gltds appear stunted in their authentic use since the majority are being held as an investment or to redirect to dot coms.

Some critics of dot com explain that dot com means nothing and generic domain names adds meaning and trust for new visitors. However that is beauty of dot com, it focuses the visitor's attention on the brand and not being defined by a generic word that could already have negative, bland or unsettling associations and connotations. The structure of new gtlds dilutes that possibly of branding. They are too limiting and suffocates the prospect of expanding. Lack of branding also indicates low status and will not be an viable or attractive option for those seriously considering a name space as a platform.

Stability and long term use is also required to add prestige and trust to new gltds. If popular websites simply move on to dot com once they save enough money, like del.icio.us moved on to dot com, that uplifts and reinforces dot com as the pinnacle. This behavior influences other webmasters with new gltds that it isn't ideal for building a permanent platform but new gltds are just a starter platform. If malicious webmasters are disproportionately attracted to the preemptive meaning from new gltds this could compromise the aggregate trust in new gltds. Dot com namespace is able to absorb this predicament due to the trustworthiness of other websites that call dot com home. However new gtlds may not be able to absorb this threat and lose credibility. Just like co.cc was dropped from Google's search due to prevalence spammy sites, new gtlds could drop from user's trust.

Being an expert in new gtlds require a new or modified skill set and perspective than dot com since circumstances are different. Keep this in mind as you invest. Some new gtlds will be more widely used than others due to the industry they appeal to and their unique needs. For example, some industries don't require or need branding, especially the ones that operate behind the scenes. While others just want complementary websites, as lovato.club is for demilovato.com. I doubt new gtlds, with the exception of .brand, will widely sell and scale outside of other domain investors; but culture evolves and the new generation could accommodate the inclusion of new gtlds. New gltds are still somewhat exciting. I have one and plan to register a couple more.

Aug 26, 2013

Uninspiring Blogger Jargon and Overused Phrases that You Should Avoid

August 26, 2013

Image via Flickr

the blogger lingo,
that doesn’t match the fun of bingo,
i would rather run from a dingo,
or get pecked by a flamingo,
than use this boring lingo,
did you like my bloggy jingo?

Your language and your personal vocabulary have a major impact on how you view life. In fact language affects culture because it defines our emotions, social world and objects. Some phrases are not translatable. This results in one culture holding unique views about life that other cultures can’t comprehend. For example, Greece developed the origins for the term “democracy.” This single term, “dēmokratía” which means rule of the people, changed the course of history and spread freedom from dictatorship across the modern world.

The words that you use to describe your industry and profession also play a role in how your conduct business. If you use uninspiring, overused words and phrases to define your industry, your professional endeavors may share the same lackluster characteristics. I’ve noticed that there are several popular phrases in the blogosphere that may trap some new bloggers. However, by eliminating these terms from their vocabulary, they could save their blog.

Niche – Wikipedia defines niche as “the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing.” This is a popular term that bloggers and affiliate marketers love to tout around. A majority of the top blogs about blogs are proclaiming from the hill tops “Find your niche!!”

However I have a different take on this. First you need identify your audience. Then you need to contemplate your mission, be honest about your passion, develop the personality of your blog and create engaging topics. Many well-known blogger experts direct you to find your golden niche. However niches can be too suffocating. What you want do to instead is create the golden brand. I say, be innovative! Come up with your own niche. Google didn’t go around chasing niches; their mission was to organize the internet. Steve Jobs wasn’t sitting around thinking…”hummm which niche should I chase??” instead he followed his passion and became competition for IBM.

Content – Content is actually a pretty handy word. It’s great for referring to all forms of media. However whenever I am writing, I don’t think…"time update my blog with more content.” I believe it’s more effective to view your media in the same way that your audience does. When an audience is finished reading a prolific novel or watching an enchanting movie, they don’t say “whoa, that was great content!” Instead there are specific elements of the novel or movie that the audience has fallen in love with. Maybe it was the characters, the actors, or the songs or perhaps the story line. What can you make your audience fall in love with?

Also, the word, “content” is bland and seems to remove all differentiation between media. You don’t want your blog to be bland. You are a blogger, therefore you are writing blog posts not just content. You should be asking, what type of blog post am I writing? Will it be more journalistic, it is personable, it is satire or it is an interview?

If you are doing a video, once again it’s not just content. It’s about whether you posting this video on YouTube, Viddy, Vimeo or offline. It’s about the differences between those audiences. It’s about your personality shining on this platform and your audiences getting to know you. I would rather you refer to your writing and the media you produce as art, than content. Yes, it’s a bit lofty, but art reminds you to display culture, provide meaning and have powerful expression.

Call to Action – Have you seen those horribly design pages, with bright colors and a huge button that says “BUY NOW!!” or “CLICK NOW TO DOWNLOAD EBOOK!!”? I have and it’s never a pretty or inspiring sight. When you have a genuine connection with your readers and viewers, they automatically want to extend the connection. If you have a great blog, people will want to purchase your book for more exclusive thoughts from you. Of course, you may have an extra step that you want your audience to take. However, you aren’t entitled to anyone’s action. But you can inspire other to take the next step by offering value. You also can have a strategically designed page or blog that helps your audience take the next step.

Monetize- Overall I think that the word monetize is extremely lazy. The word monetize causes me to imagine bloggers attempting to "passively" earn money from poorly done articles. If you can’t think of a creative way to earn money from your articles perhaps you shouldn’t be freelancing. You really should be thinking “how can I expand the brand? How can I create an adventure?” For example, Disney was able to develop an entire empire from his studios. He wanted to provide a family experience for his audience. He wasn’t sitting around confused about monetization.

Modern bloggers forget the term starving artist and expect to earn too much too soon. When I think of a starving artist, I think of a person that has sacrificed so much and now they are desperate to earn a living. I don’t think of them casually asking, “I’ve sacrificed my life for my art…I wonder how I will monetize this.” Instead there was this huge conflict between maintaining their sense of self, pursuing their passion and having enough money to eat the next day. There is a depth in Edgar Allan Poe’s literature that captures the hearts of people worldwide yet he struggled financially. Do you really deserve to “monetize” your work? Then get creative.

Traffic- The word “traffic” gives me the image of numbers without feelings, emotions or a personal story checking out your blog. However people are not just numbers, they are complex beings that are scrutinizing your work. They are people looking for entertainment, inspiration, information and an experience to share with their loved ones.

The word can also be intimidating for new bloggers. They think “wait I need how much traffic to make money??!!!?” Instead, new bloggers should be thinking about how many individuals they can make fall in love with their blog posts. It’s all about how you are making individuals feel. It’s not just about getting “traffic.” If you can make hundreds, thousands and even millions of individuals happy then you’ve achieved your goal.

Now.. Are you ready to change to the course of your history?

Mar 1, 2013

Will new gTLDs Affect your Business or E-commerce site?

March 02, 2013

Imagine the internet without the .com where domain names containing new gTLDs (generic top level domains) such as news.google or newyork.taxi becomes the norm … or even the standard. The online world will get a glimpse of the brand or idea without the .com sooner than they think. ICANN plans to reveal the first set of approved applications in April 2013. The corporations and businesses that are approved may be so eager to demonstrate their technological prowess that they could start unveiling their sites as early as the summer.

Most small and midsized businesses are completed oblivious to the idea that there could be a major paradigm shift online. Just as the panda updates spun across the web with lightning speed leaving unsuspecting webmaster devastated and sites demolished, new gTLDs could flash across the web paralyzing .com businesses. You may ask “how will new gTLDs affect the internet?” Then you may wonder “how will this impact on the internet influence my business and e-commerce site?” and “Should I invest in a new gTLD?” I wish that I could provide definite answers however it’s too early to get a clear perception with the fog of the ICANN, the flurry of applications and the pressure of speculation. How I do want to offer a myriad of perspectives so that small and midsized businesses can be adequately prepared for any changes.

There’s a possibility that the internet will not be affected by new gTLDs

The corporations applying for new gTLDs could simply be engaging in defensive brand protection. For example, General Motors pulled their applications for .chevrolet; .gmc; and .cadillac after the deadline closed for new applications. They probably wanted to prevent any trademark violations. Other brands may behave a bit more aggressively and strategically. They may use new gTLDs for a leaner advertising campaign and then redirect the new gTLDs to their main site. For example, it’s easier to advertise a succinct web address such as beauty.covergirl and then redirect that domain name to beauty.covergirl.com.

Customers may reject the new gTLDs and corporate resistance could suppress widespread use of websites with new gTLDs. Corporations have invested billions into developing .com websites. There are corporations that have purchased generic domain names, such as salad.com, flash.com and eyecare.com, for millions. These corporations will not passively allow new gTLDs to dominate the website. They will fervently compete. Corporations already feel overwhelmed trying to develop a solid mobile strategy. Do corporations really have the stamina to pursue new gTLDs and build engaging websites or will they consider them a risky distraction? (Note: My focus is on the corporate behavior because ICANN priced the applications outside the budget of small and midsized businesses. The action that corporations take, the only possible actors in this ICANN frenzy, will determine how the general public perceives new gTLDs.)

Most importantly customers may reject websites with new gTLDs or treat them unfavorably compared to .com domains. Customers have a tendency to be slow adapters to innovations that they can’t quite understand. They may adapt to new gTLDs so slow that the impact on the web could be marginal. If customers refuse to adopt new gTLDs then corporations who have wasted their funds will have a negative reaction to them. This will create a hostile environment for new gTLDs and ultimately cause their demise. I also believe that registrars overestimate the amount of internet users that want domain names. Registrars such as Uniregistry and Donuts.co are investing millions into new gTLD applications. However if they can’t recoup their losses, due to the popularity of social media platforms that have reduced the need small business and personal websites, then the lack of registrations could cause the collapse of the entire industry. 

We also have the possibility that new gTLDs are accepted but .com domains are still widely used by powerful corporations and a significant portion of the business world. Dot com domains may never become a vestigial part of the internet, but instead a permanent and active member. Even though Facebook and email has usurped a majority of communication delivery for Americans, snail mail is still a relevant means of communication. Many people still prefer to pay bills through USPS.  If distinct new gTLDs web applications can quickly be imitated by .com websites then they will not be perceived as extraordinarily innovative. If registrars are able to offer keyword new gTLDs, such as .art & .app, to all users then the allure for corporations could be lost. That's probably why Google is attempting to purchase keyword almost 80 keyword new gTLDs such as .cloud; .mail & .search. Corporations are not interested in the .com on repeat; where spammers and scammers can enter the space without credibility.

Other corporations and internet users may consider new gTLDs too limiting and defining. For example, .art in theory is a descriptive, meaningful and representative domain for an artist. But does an artist really want to be defined so blatantly and generically? Does a corporation really want to invest $185,000 for a branded new gTLD for each brand that they want to develop? Also, ICANN reveals the applicants and the new gTLDs that they are applying. This is undesirable for corporations that unveil new brands after working in stealth mode. Many corporations don’t want customers to associate new brands with their other brands. Therefore a website such as android.google would not be an attractive option. For example, the .google has the potential to overshadow Android’s blossoming brand and stunt its separate identity. Businesses do not want their brands to be revealed before its time or to be restricted. 

So now you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief. But don’t relax just yet because….
There’s a high possibility that the internet will be affected by new gTLDs

Yes, new gTLDs could the next big online event just like search engines, social media platforms, blogs and startups.

Legitimacy: Right now just about anyone can violate a trademark and register a domain name with a brand. These spammers then use these domain names to masquerade as if they are affiliated with the brand in order to deceive naïve web users. This trickery tarnishes brands and causes people to distrust the internet…both are bad for business. Corporations could be relieved that they can now tout their branded new gTLDs as the only authority for their products and services. Their branded new gTLDs will be differentiated from the majority of all websites, increasing the legitimacy of their websites. As more and more corporations and institutions began using .brand instead of .com, the .com‘s image could be considered the less professional, spammy cesspool. The .com will be depleted of status just as soil depleted for nutrition from overuse and abuse. It’s nearly impossible for a seed to reach its full potential in depleted soil.  Over time customers could learn to perceive .brand as the only credible and trustworthy websites. This could have a major effect on budding e-commerce sites that depend on search engine rankings. If customers begin to click on .brand more often in the search engine results resulting in high click through rates for new gTLDs then this could propel these domains to the top of the results... rendering the .com websites invisible.

In a less dramatic fashion, .com could become archaic, therefore negatively and unfairly affecting the image of businesses that are still forced to use .com. Corporations that want to appear cutting edge will start employing new gTLDs as a status symbol, deepening the online stratification. The gap between the corporations and small businesses could become more apparent and cause online users to gravitate to the sites with more resources even if they don’t have better products or services. This could be the nail in the coffins for new startups that aren’t publicized.

Exclusive Web Applications: If corporations solely use new gTLDs the architecture of their websites could change. Web applications that can’t be replicated by .com websites could arise. If new gTLDs result in better customer experiences then, other businesses that can’t afford new gTLDs will have difficulty competing. Corporations may even have the ability to seep into your web structure and built applications from your services. Small businesses should start thinking about how they can compete with innovative web applications.

Higher Barriers to Entry: When the internet first crept into the scene, the barriers to entry were high but achievable. You simply needed an opened mind to understand the value of the internet, the resources and knowledge to build a website and the business skills to develop a competitive product or service. For a small period of time, domain names were free! This could dramatically change. If corporations are granted ownership for keyword domains such as .boat & .cafe they could block off entry into that space from competitors.  Consequently, the cost for .com domains could skyrocket. The appealing domain names on sale by domainers are already priced too high for small businesses and budding startups, if they raise any higher this could restrict online innovation. If the barriers to entry are too high online, many small businesses and midsized business may remain offline or only use social networking platforms further suppressing their growth.

Flexibility:  Corporations will now have the flexibility and resources to structure their website in any way that they need while most businesses using .com ( or .net, .org, etc.) will still be restricted by their registrars. Once again the corporations will be able to offer web users significantly more which will raise the bar for businesses that don’t have the resources to meet these new standards. These corporations will have more power and representation on the web due to their self-determination and resources.

Some e-commerce websites are worried if keyword new gTLDs will have high search engine rankings than .com. Once again, only time will tell. Think about your strategy and how you can compete if they do. I hope that I was able to provide a thorough overview. I would love to hear your comments!

Oct 11, 2012

Can MySpace Make a Comeback in Social Media?

By: Dianne Heath
October 11, 2012

Unfortunately, I think that the social media pie is sliced a bit too thin for MySpace to get full.  Although social media is saturated, MySpace could thrive as a mixed media site by offering social media while still producing traditional media. MySpace currently offers videos and articles however they don’t really have a dynamic content strategy and they lack consistently compelling media because they still view themselves dominantly as a social media site.  

It’s time for MySpace to strategically expand their brand as a stage for budding musicians, a social site for those passionate about music to connect, a venue for fans to enjoy music and an online destination for music updates. Despite MySpace’s lack of active & dedicated members - compared to other social media sites - they still have a well-known brand as a site dedicated to music. There’s always hope for a comeback when you have a well-known brand. 

Turning DeadSpace into Music Heaven

1.       Figure out how to give emerging bands a platform for attracting a fans and getting discovered.

Social media has explosive growth because people like fans, they being a part of a social group and they love becoming “internet famous.” Social media is now being used by many ambitious individuals as a stepping stone to more opportunities. MySpace needs to ponder how they can make the rise to fame easier musicians and bands. MySpace profiles should be designed so that the musicians can be viewed in the best possible light. MySpace also has radio stations with 42 million tracks that they are underutilizing. They should publicize their radio stations more often. They also should have distinct stations for music lovers to discover new bands and musicians. 

An amazing benefit to helping emerging musicians and bands is that when they become mainstream your site also grows exponentially in popularity. They attract fans that want to get closer to them through the sites that they are active on and have built their brands on. Once again, MySpace should investigate and see what areas musicians and bands struggle, such as securing exposure, and then they will be able to offer a platform that alleviates these hardships. MySpace needs to ask, “Why would bands, musicians and fans invest time in this site?”

Also, MySpace shouldn’t forget how important the mobile sector has become. Unfortunately they haven't upgraded their mobile app since July 2011.  Even if their image is tarnished online, they have a clean mobile slate. Instagram has shown the tech and business community, just how powerful mobile is. Their mobile strategy has to be innovative and exciting. What music applications can they develop that will be valuable to musical mobile users?

2.       Participate in traditional media more consistently and dynamically so that MySpace can appear in the search engine results.

MySpace has basically disappeared from the search engine results for many specific queries. When MySpace does appear in the search engine results, their content pales in comparison to the rest of the results. To the average person, that means that they are dead. Since MySpace isn’t able to sit back and let the users initiate the conversation and drive social interaction like on Facebook, MySpace will need to be proactive in starting the conversation. Once people start seeing MySpace dominating the music sector online, they will be viewed as an authority site instead of a fledging social media or social networking site. They shouldn’t view this as a social media failure; they should view this as a great chance to differentiate themselves from traditional and social media by combining the best of both elements. Being a mixed media site will also be more sustainable in the long run. MySpace should be the social Vevo or the combination of MTV & Facebook.

Methods for appearing in the search engine results

1.       MySpace Video/YouTube

MySpace’s YouTube presence is desolate and weak.  I do understand that they may not want to upload videos on a competitor site however their own section for videos is cluttered, unappealing and difficult to navigate. They seem resistant to uploading material that people want to see and are already searching for. MySpace needs to take some cues from ClevverTV (on YouTube) on how to attract views. They need to talk about what the fans and the musically inclined care about. MySpace could produce interviews with new music brands from around the country - even internationally; give us the inside scoop or background information on music videos from emerging bands & musicians; produce a YouTube reality show or contest to keep the fans coming back for more.

On MySpace’s own site, they should have more live coverage of musical performances. New Year’s Eve live coverage showcasing musical performances would be amazing. Interesting videos are guaranteed to attract a following. Let smaller bands upload music videos and curate the top videos to showcase on the site. Once you help bands become popular, more quality bands will be encouraged to follow.

2.        Entertaining Articles

MySpace is in the prime position to have an amazing music blog or music news network. Instead of faceless authors, MySpace needs to have more personable music news and blog posts. MySpace could create another personality that would effectively communicate with the music audience, connect to the fans and become an endearing figure in music. The personality should have a story, a mission and a music background.  Perhaps an active member of MySpace could be vetted to blog about music to mimic the Tila Tequila effect.

Currently MySpace has news however the articles are sparsely shared because it's not as entertaining, personable or informative as other sites. However once they learn the formula for what people want to read and MySpace articles start showing up in the search engine results for interesting queries; then people visit MySpace directly to read music news. The fact that MySpace is also a social media site will help them rise above just having articles by enabling a community to form instead of visitors that just comment and bounce back.

As long as MySpace is willing to branch out, the possibilities are limitless. MySpace's demise began when people started using the site as an all-purpose site which deviated from their original mission- to promote music and bands.  Once Facebook was created people flocked to that site due to its personable nature, clean design, lack of controversy and closed environment, which left MySpace barren. However if MySpace focus on their roots and get creative they can become a premier social media and traditional media site for music. 

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Sep 24, 2012

The Significance of Klout for Advertisers: Why Online Influence Means Attention

By: Dianne Heath
September 24, 2012

Image via Wired

Why Advertisers and Businesses Love Klout: The True Meaning of Online Social Influence

Social media and online advertising is unpredictable. Klout offers stability through categorization.
In the past, only traditional media platforms such as television, radio and newspapers sustained premium attention from a wide and diversified audience. Television and radio introduced the dialogue, maintained the conversation and dictated what was relevant while the populace passively interacted with media. Social media has caused a paradigm shift by allowing media to be in the hands of the people. You no longer have to wait for a television program; you can just watch YouTube. You don’t need be entertained by a magazine; you can simply scroll down your Facebook feed. You're not desperate for another celebrity interview; you can just read their tweets. The people are getting educated, informed, entertained and amused by their each other and well-known figures can directly share their narratives to the public.

With media being the hands of the people social media, like life, is unpredictable. Marketers and businesses don’t have the script beforehand. Social media occurs in real time. Social media isn’t as conducive to strategically planned product placements as movies and televisions are. It’s more difficult to sync up marketing with social media than traditional media. Now people can make up crazy hashtags on a whim. By the time old school advertisers jump on board, another trend has passed and now a meme about Angelina’s leg is popping up. Even dictators are having a hard time keeping up and retaining dominant influence over their populace. Advertisers are desperate for more content organization & categorization of data that is being produced out of their control.

Social media is like a crowded marketplace.
The streams of attention are so dispersed that it’s almost impossible to know how to make an ad online that reaches millions of your target demographics on the consistent and daily basis. In the past, if advertisers needed to market cosmetics, they could contact a studio that produced shows that are geared to women and then millions of women would have their eyes on your advertisement at the times advertisers dictated. Now, millions of conversations are going at once and it’s nearly impossible get anyone’s attention unless they are already interested in what you have to say. The statistics about the amount of content being produced and in addition to the number of unpredictable celebrity rants are enough to make a person dizzy. However in the midst of chaos, Klout strides into the marketplace confidently and says “I can organize this catastrophe… I mean data and content for you. I can tell you want they are saying, who they are telling, the trends they are starting or following and what they want. I can get you into that conversation and give your power back.” Klout gives advertisers the power to know what social media participants consistently tweet or post about.

Since so much attention has transferred online, the marketers and businesses are following. Marketers loved the idea of viral marketing because it was the most similar and nostalgic to the traditional forms of advertising, reaching millions are once. Adsense was revolutionary because it was like a visual or text commercial in between content and you could reach millions. Marketers also like the idea of Facebook advertising because it replicates word of mouth. It has the ability to target millions within a specific demographic just like a television ad and just like Adsense the users provided the media while the advertisers tried to capture a fraction of the attention through ads. Now marketers are starting to get comfortable with the idea of reaching small niches just like SEO marketers are openly embracing the long tail. Also, what’s so amazing about online ads is that it’s significantly easier for customers to make an impulse purchase. As opposed to seeing a commercial on television and having to transfer that effort from the couch to the computer or even wait longer to go to a retail store, consumer can just click on an ad or make a quick purchase at Amazon.

Online Social Influence is Code Word for “the amount of attention you receive online”
If you speak and people are purposefully listening, then you have online influence. Just like when ladies are watching a commercial and one makes a positive or negative comment about the product that is being advertised, the lady that is speaking has the attention from her friend at that moment. Klout is attempting to give marketers and advertisers the opportunity to replicate that experience. Friends pay more attention to each other’s recommendations and that attention is a form of influence. Similarly smaller communities online are probably more trusting of each other. Instead of defining Klout as a measure of influence, it’s more accurate to refer to Klout scores as the measure of attention or measure of premium attention. In the age of information overload, social media and individuals staring at multiple screens at the same time; premium attention is a scarce resource. Klout could also mean a measure peer pressure. Klout attempts to answer the question, does this individual have enough clout in these areas to peer pressure individuals to purchase specific products. Television shows have ratings and now those that participate in social media will have the equivalent through Klout scores.

I have a lower Klout score because I have fewer eyes on me. I generally get attention through engagement. I don't have hoards of fans and/or followers staring at my stream wondering what I'll say next.  However those with higher Klout scores have social media profiles that gets visited regularly because either online or offline they have achieved a significant amount of popularity that has earned them sustained attention.

Some people argue that there are influential people with comparable low Klout scores. However marketers aren’t necessarily targeting them. If these individuals have considerable influence offline and/or online, they are already being vetted by marketers. Marketers are more focused on targeting people that are under the radar such as bloggers with 2,000 followers or the popular student in school with 1000 Facebook friends. People who are getting attention online who advertisers may not had learned about before Klout. For example, not every single person who watches television is extremely influential however most have attention from their family and friends.  Marketers who use Klout are hoping that these individuals attract enough attention online to be able to indirectly peer pressure or “influence their colleagues.” Klout is purely an advertising medium and we are the media.

Marketers probably aren’t too disappointed by Klout’s inadequacy at integrating online influence with offline influence (even though they did update their algorithm in an attempt to rectify this issue). Television, radio, newspapers, other traditional media outlets and even celebrities are filling this gap. Instead they are pursuing the online niches that being overlooked. They are trying to reach the individuals that are the center of a loyal yet small to midsized online communities. They want to know about the mysterious influencers behind the computer screens. So when people argued about why Justin Beiber used to have a higher Klout score than Justin Beiber, they were too focused on offline influence. For now, Justin Beiber is being searched online more, online he has more YouTube videos, online he probably gets more retweets, online he has more facebook likes and twitter followers. Online, Justin Beiber exerts more peer pressure and has more attention. Plus marketers already know that Barack Obama is influential, they don’t need Klout for that and I’m sure Barack Obama isn’t feverishly searching for Klout Perks. With Barack Obama’s campaign and Justin Beiber’s career on a slow decline, Justin Beiber is now has a lower Klout score.

My Attempt at Deciphering Klout Scores

These people have lower scores because either 1. They don't have any online influence and their offline influence isn't powerful enough to get them attention online.  2. They don't have enough influence online or offline to not participate. For many people, if they don't participate then they simply don't get attention.

They are people with scores because they engage with their audience. These people may or may not have both offline and online influence. For example, I believe more people in this group either have online influence but lack in offline influence or their have offline influence and lack in online influence. These people are able to engage if they want to. So for example, an executive will be able to get a response from the average Twitter user however since he doesn't have a blog; he isn't known well-known online nor does he have  an online community centered around him.

1. Well-known figures with who don't need to engage their audience on Twitter or Facebook because they are already in the public eye. Their brand speak for themselves, i.e. Seth Godin. Whether or not he's replying to people, there will be people looking at his stream. He also has a large online community based around his blog and books. Marketers are satisfied.
2. Highly influential figures who don’t need to engage with their audience but choose too. Many entertainers fall in this category.Generally those with high Klout scores have online influence because of their popularity offline.

Some companies will automatically have the edge on Klout because of the nature of their audience. For example, tech companies will probably have higher Klout scores on average than restaurants.

Concluding thoughts about Klout:
They need more organic people to be aware about Klout. People who just appreciate the free stuff. People who participate in social media for fun like when YouTube first started and people made the videos for free and not the money. Or how people authentically used Facebook to connect with loved ones. Klout is too focused on advertising their service to thought leaders and social media mavens. Of course this was important because they have high profile social media accounts and they caused conversations about Klout to spread rapidly but now it's time to get the "normal people in". Update 10/6/ 2012 * I saw an advertising of Klout in a popular magazine.

Use technology to see the ratio of fake followers. I don't like having spammer as followers so I remove them (according to Statuspeople I have zero fake followers). Many people don't do this; in fact many people even purposefully purchase them. There's no point in giving spammers high Klout scores. 

They need to get their keywords right. One tweet giving a mini tutorial about fixing gadgets on Blogger shouldn't warrant me to be listed as influential in gadget. I'm not going to remove it though. Heck I want a free gadget lol! The chances are low but you never know....On second thought ...I'll pay someone a dollar to consistently retweet or reply to anything that I tweet about cars. I'm serious.

Thanks for reading, if you have a different perspective on the meaning of Klout and online influence I would love to hear it!

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