People are more important than Klout

Thank you for the discussion on Mack Collier’s blog and on Twitter regarding my Klout posts. I’m grateful and humbled so many joined in the conversation. Also greatly encouraged so many were totally offended by the four keys to increasing your Klout score. As you’ve discovered by now, I was not all suggesting you actually game Klout to increase your score. Instead, I was, hopefully, illustrating the absurdity of having a goal of increasing any artificial measure of influence.

Intuitively, it seems we all know no two-digit metric, or even a more elaborate metric like Twitalyzer, can truly measure influence. Too many factors go into defining, discerning, and describing influence. For instance, consider the influence of George W. Bush today, now compare that to his influence on September 12, 2001. Influence, in that case, was significantly affected by environmental conditions. So it is with you and I. (Even though Justin Bieber has a perfect Klout score of 100, I still have more influence on my 8, 10, and 13 year old children than he does! My Klout score is nowhere near his.)

As JC Penny showed us last week, any ranking system can be gamed, even one as disciplined and well funded as Google. So it is with Klout. There are specific strategies you can pursue to get a higher Klout score. If that’s your objective, no doubt you’ll succeed. You’ll find in my post four keys to increase your Klout score.

Many people recognized the humor and absurdity of my four keys. I’m glad. If you’ve heard me speak, read my blog, or engaged with me online, you know I cherish Zig Ziglar’s oft-quoted axiom, “You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.” You’ve probably also heard me state and defend against all challenges the admonition, “Follow back every person who follows you on Twitter.” Even though that suggestion STILL ruffles some people’s feathers, I still advocate accepting another human being’s out-stretched hand.

Which brings us back to the real issue of increasing one’s influence. Is that a worthwhile goal? I wonder if influence, like corporate profits, is a by-product of rendering valuable service to others. Render enough valuable service to others, and you’ll have all the influence you need.

Even if increasing one’s influence is a worthwhile goal, it can’t be successfully pursued without attending to, acknowledging, and affirming other human beings around you.

Instead of increasing our Klout scores, we’d garner more clout by rendering more, more valuable service, to more people. When we’re doing that, we won’t need a third-party rating system to let us know we’ve succeed. (Just ask Warren Buffett, one of the most influential people in the world of business, who just happens to have a Klout score 1/3rd the ranking of Justin Bieber. Who would YOU rather spend a day with?)

Trey Pennington

Klout is necessary

Klout is in the news. The Wall Street Journal piece on Klout surely made the rounds. Klout is praised and bashed, loathed and admired. Whether good or bad, Klout is necessary.

Klout’s founder, Joe Fernadez, is both a genius and a gentleman. He recognized a need in the marketplace and has been working aggressively to satisfy that need. The business press is taking note and is given him and his company earned recognition (and venture capitalists are giving him/them the big bucks to back it up). I got to spend some one-on-one time with Joe in Indianapolis during ExactTarget’s conference last year and found him to be a delightful dinner companion and a deep thinker. I like and admire him a lot.

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4 Keys to Increasing Your Klout Score

Now that the Wall Street Journal is writing about them, you probably already know about Klout. If you’re using Hootsuite, your Klout score, and the Klout score of your followers, is front-and-center. Here are four ways you can increase your Klout score.

  1. Get important people to talk about you. Klout measures the visible vestiges of influence. Getting people who already have Klout scores to retweet your tweets or in some other way mention you enables you to ride the draft of their influence. You can find these people by using Klout’s business service. You might check out HubSpot’s listing of Twitter Elite, too. Follow them on Twitter, retweet them, and if they don’t notice you, you can use a Twitter mention to ask them to retweet you. If you’ll get important people to talk about you, you can increase your Klout score.
  2. Read more

Life is backstory

“That’s only the tip of the iceberg,” is what we say when we want our hearers to know the challenge, problem, or opportunity is deeper, more expansive, more significant than what we see. In human interaction, what we SEE—skin color, clothes, grooming, posture, and facial expression—are only the tip of the iceberg of who a person actually is.

Just like most of an iceberg is hidden, so a human being’s backstory is out-of-sight. If you wanted to see the rest of the iceberg, you’d have to do a deep dive underneath the water (which would be very cold, I presume). You’d have to do some research, get special gear, probably make more than one trip to berg, and in general, make a serious investment.

If you want to see a human’s backstory, you’ll have to make a serious investment, too. However, you can get started right away by making a determined choice to pause before you make those snap judgements about what you see in others. Instead, run what you think about what you see through the backstory filter by reminding yourself, “There’s more to this story.” Then, temper your words and actions with compassion.

For companies, it means valuing the backstory by making a commitment to listen, explore, and discover your customers’ backstories—asking where were they before the discovered you, understanding what fears, hopes, dreams, and goals are, discovering what fuels their imaginations and actions.

When you take the time to value another’s backstory, you gain insight into why people do what they do. You’ll be better prepared to actually help them do what they want to do.

What’s your customer’s backstory? What’s yours?

Trey Pennington

Gratitude fuels community


Please DON’T buy that next book on “How to build a community,” or that yet-another-book on “Joining the conversation.” Here’s something you can do right now, right where you are, and you don’t even need a book to show you how: when that next person walks into your office, calls you on the phone, or sends you an email, stop to seriously ponder the question…

“Why am I glad this person is on the planet?”
When you have the answer to that question, take it from your mind, put it into words, and give those words to that person.

If you make a habit of focusing on things for which you’re grateful and then make it a habit of expressing that gratitude through every available media (and especially face-to-face), you’ll build that community you seek. And, hey, even if you don’t built a huge community, guess what? You’ll be grateful for the community you do have.

You might just be amazed what a lot of gratitude and a small community can do together.

Gratitude fuels community.

Trey Pennington

How to make your marketing alive in the moment

Marketers can learn much from storytellers. Over the past several of years, I’ve been studying storytelling and encouraging marketers to adopt the mindset of storytellers. One essential element of storytelling, though, seems to be uniquely in the domain of storytelling. It’s something Connie Regan-Blake calls “being present in the moment.”

Whenever I encourage companies to use video, blogs, and yes, even Twitter, for storytelling, my good friend, Sean Buvala, who IS @storyteller on Twitter, says, “Always remember, those are only shadows of an experience, not the experience itself.” Sean agrees with Connie: storytelling is a right-here-right-now-together experience.

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How to do Twitter in 15 minutes a day

“Twitter users are the most influential consumers online,” concludes Exact Target in the research report Subscribers, Fans, and Followers. When I was with Twitter’s COO, Dick Costolo, recently in Indianapolis, he told me there were over 160 million registered Twitter accounts. It’s safe to say, Twitter is growing in importance as a part of one’s marketing mix. The challenge is, how to find the time to “do” Twitter. Here’s how you can do Twitter in 15 minutes a day or less.

Growing your network

  • Use or Google to find 5 leaders in your industry and follow them on Twitter
  • Follow back every real person who follows you
  • Follow 5 people who participated in a tweet chat discussing your topic. Here’s a mega list of Twitter tweet chats.

Growing your relationships

  • Scan your @mentions and reply to every human who addresses a tweet to you
  • Scan your direct messages and reply to any that don’t look like auto-generated messages. Nearly 99% of all my incoming direct messages are auto-generated. Many people call them “junk mail,” and nearly everyone calls them spam. No doubt you’ll come up with your own vocabulary to describe them.

Growing your influence

  • Scan your “home” stream of tweets posted by people you follow to find relevant content for your followers and retweet it.
  • Share 4-5 links to other relevant content around the web (blog posts, news articles, research, polls, surveys, etc.). You can use your RSS aggregator (I’m using Google Reader at the moment) to “harvest” relevant content to share via Twitter.
  • If you write a blog, share a link to a recent post. Twitter readers may give you grief if all you do is share your own content, but if they know you’re also sharing other valuable, relevant content with them, they’ll be glad to see your content, too.

While’s there’s much, much more to leveraging the power of Twitter, if you’ll follow the outline above, you can get started in Twitter right away without it consuming too much time. Over the next few days, I’ll share more ideas to help you use Twitter to expand your online presence, and yes, to add Twitter as a meaningful part of your sales system.

Trey Pennington

How Duct Tape Marketing legend John Jantsch uses social media

You probably already know John Jantsch from his wildly (and still) popular book Duct Tape Marketing. The book, and the movement it spawned, is based upon simple, back-to-the-basics, marketing systems any business owner to apply TODAY to grow business. John’s taking things a step further in his new book, Referral Engine. He’s a kindred spirit: he starts with a working definition of marketing and then builds a process based upon it.

I especially appreciate where he places social media in the process. Too many of us present social media like it’s a cure-all or the ultimate marketing toolkit. Many have even gone so far as to proclaim the death of direct mail, death of print, death of newspapers, all listing the killer agent as social media.

John has a gorgeously balanced approach. He says, “While the notion of community-building online has become a very commonplace practice, the opportunity for community-building offline is richer than ever.…The converged business [the business blending John’s balance] uses every advance in technology as an opportunity to forge a deeper, more personal relationship with its customers.”

Marketing is a series of decisions and actions. John says, “For the converged, high-tech, high-touch business, the primary decision filter for every marketing process, customer touch point, and tactic is how technology can make the customer experience more fun, more convenient, more engaging, and more frequent.”

Bravo. It’s not about tools or tactics or even policies and profits. It’s about using everything possible to create something for someone ELSE.

John is as delightful in person as you’d imagine he would be. It was fun to grab a few minutes to talk with him on camera while we were together at Conquer & Grow, hosted by InfusionSoft.

Trey Pennington

Extend your influence by extending trust: a social story

A stranger walks into your store and tells you about his problem. After asking him a few questions to help you understand the problem, you hand him a brand new pair of shoes and tell him to try them for couple weeks. “If they work,” you say, “just come back and pay for them. If they don’t, we’ll try a different pair.” Typical? Probably not.

That’s exactly what Jeff Milliman, the 1980 NCAA cross country champion, did in 1998 for Olivier Blanchard. Olivier wrote about his experience with Jeff in a 2005 blog post called That Bond of Trust. I caught up with Jeff today at his new home at Go Run, a part of Go Tri Sports, in downtown Greenville, South Carolina.

Social Story: Tell me about Olivier. A story of trust. from Trey Pennington on Vimeo.

Please note a few really cool things about this social story:

  • Jeff just did what he always does: listens to people and then applies his knowledge to try to help solve their problems.
  • Jeff is willing to take a risk in order to fulfill his passion.
  • Jeff did the unexpected and went the extra mile and SEVEN YEARS LATER the object of his generosity, Olivier Blanchard, wrote about it. (How many shoe salesmen have people writing glowing stories about them seven years after the sale, or seven hours?)
  • Jeff’s act of generosity and Olivier’s act of gratitude enabled an long lost friend to reconnect with Jeff after nearly 20 years apart.

That means you never can tell when the harvest of your generosity will come.

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Cut through the marketing clutter with storytelling

“Oh come on!” the upscale fashion retailer said. He thrust his pointed finger toward to the daily newspaper spread out next to his cash register. “Look here, here, and here,” he continued as he pointed to three different ads by three different “big box” clothing retailers or discounters. “How many ads do I have to buy to get noticed? There’s just so much clutter,” he said while he smashed the paper into a tight crumpled ball and crammed it into the trashcan.

The Problem

The retailer’s problem is the same problem facing businesses of every size. Nate Elliott, analyst for the vaunted research firm Forrester, recently turned his research prowess towards the problem. In his blog post announcing his current research project, he asked, “How can marketers overcome social clutter?” He asked readers, “Do you feel it’s getting harder or easier for marketers to get a message to users through social media?” Readers responded with an overwhelming, “harder!”

The Villain

First, let’s define this villain called Clutter. Who is this black-hatted character bringing companies large and small to their knees?

To air traffic controllers and others who read radars, clutter is “a term for unwanted echoes…[that] can cause serious performance issues…” That’s a definition marketers can visualize, too. You’ll hear communications professionals talk about the “signal to noise ratio.” Everything that’s not signal, is noise—unwanted echoes, clutter.

The Faux Solution

Many marketers attempt to overcome Clutter by buying more ad space or airtime, sending out more direct mail pieces, making more cold calls, posting more tweets or updates. Instead of killing Clutter, they feed the sneaky villain.

The Hero

Squaring off against Clutter is our white-hatted Storyteller. The Storyteller is effective not just because of what he does, but also because of who he is. Through three key relationships he’s empowered to act effectively, slicing through Clutter and delivering wanted signal.

  1. The storyteller’s relationship to the story: The Storyteller believes The Story is a gift that’s been given to him and a gift that increases in value as it is given away.
  2. The storyteller’s relationship to himself: The Storyteller is focused on The Story and minimizes self in order to present the story free of personal interference.
  3. The storyteller’s relationship to the audience: The Storyteller focuses on the audience and their experience of The Story. He is committed to communicating The Story to enable the audience to not only live The Story for themselves but also to co-create its meaning.

The mindset, or heart, of the Storyteller prepares him to take action to cut through Clutter.

Essential Elements
First, you need to know your own core story. Your core story is a narrative example of:

  • who you are and what you stand for
  • who the big, hairy monster is (the villain)
  • what results customers achieve because of you

Second, you need to know your prospects’ core story. Their core story includes:

  • what they want to accomplish (what results do they want in the end?)
  • what gets in their way
  • how they feel when they’re thwarted
  • how they feel when they’re victorious

That means listening and paying attention to your prospects and customers is more important than ever. If you don’t know their stories, you won’t be able to share a story with them that cuts through Clutter.

Stories cut through clutter because, stories

  • connect with people emotionally
  • help us make sense of facts (facts, statements, declarations, and even offers overwhelm us; stories give us a framework to make sense of it all)
  • aid memory
  • aid word-of-mouth (we tend to remember in story; we tend to share in story)

Sharing your story

Adopting the mind of a storyteller, understanding your own core story, and understanding your customers’ core story are the first steps toward conquering Clutter and connecting with your marketplace. These foundational steps will take you far down the path of effective communication and engagement with the people in your marketplace.

Trey Pennington