Klout vs. the Blogosphere: What does it mean to be influential?

16 12 2010

For a long time now, we’ve had a pretty good idea of who was influential (generally based on the strength of their blog) and such influential bloggers also tended to be influential in other online spheres, including social media sites. We’re starting to see a divergence now, however, between influencers in the blogosphere and in the social networks (namely Facebook & Twitter). So… with the increasing power of Facebook and especially Twitter, how do you compare an influential blogger with an influential tweeter? Is that influence equivalent? Transposable? One has hundreds of links pointing to her/his website and receives tens, if not, hundreds of comments to her/his blog, sustaining a focused series of committed conversations and partners. The other has thousands of followers and is often retweeted, wielding a power to draw folks into conversation. Apples and oranges? Or should the label ‘top influencer’ be given only to those powerful across all social media realms?

To date, blogging has been the gold standard for online influence in new media (see Brian Solis’ recent post on the subject). The most influential online personalities create blogs with high readership and audience participation, are highly shared and have a significant amount of inbound links pointing towards them. Bloggers create meaningful content that produces action. Social networks are a way for that content to be distributed, but are not the conversation mechanism. That’s all changing. Twitter personalities are becoming influential and possess the power to draw people into conversation, but their blogs don’t always rank. We also see some of the most influential bloggers lacking Twitter influence at times. So, back to the questions at hand – who is influential and how do we know?

Klout has recently come onto the influence-measuring scene and offers interesting metrics for gauging online influence. Klout claims to be “the measurement of your overall online influence” and bills itself as the ‘Standard for Online and Internet Influence,” but when you read through its metrics, it does not look at the strength and ranking of your website/blog nor your influence within the blogosphere. So are the folks Klout identifies really the top online influencers? Let’s compare metrics. How do Klout influencers compare with blogging influencers?

One industry we watch for influence is the travel industry. We recently came across this list that ranks the ‘Top Online Travel Influencers’ using Klout’s metrics. It made us wonder how it compared to a list ranking blogger influence based on inbound links within the travel blogging community. Initially we were going to re-rank the list according the blog influence and compare, but we discovered it was missing a number of key influencers (Gadling, for example). Instead, we pulled a a list of the top 50 travel bloggers (removing print travel publications) out of more than 800 travel blogs and re-ranked them by social media influence using Klout. Below we compare the original list we found, the top 50 travel bloggers and the top 50 travel bloggers ranked by Twitter influence. As you’ll see, they’re very different lists.

Top Travel Bloggers Top Travel Bloggers by Klout Score* Top Influencers from Influencers in Travel**
1 Gadling Everything Everywhere EarthXplorer
2 Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site Everything Everywhere
3 Trip Base Family Traveler – Soul Travelers 3 Tremendo Viaje
4 Uptake The Planet D Legal Nomads
5 Travel Blog Exchange Europe A La Carte Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site
6 Wanderlust & Lipstick Travel Dudes Intelligent Travel Blog
7 Everything Everywhere Brave New Traveler Land Lopers
8 Delicious Baby Uncornered Market Wild Junket
9 Elliott GranToursimo! The Planet D
10 World Hum Gadling Midlife Road Trip
11 Travel Blog Sites Ottsworld Travel Experiences Inn the Kitchen
12 Nerd’s Eye View Vagabonish Trains on the Brain
13 Jaunted Travel Blog Exchange Andy Hayes
14 The Planet D foXnoMad Wild About Travel
15 Vacation Gals Hotel Chatter Brendan’s Adventures
16 The Cranky Flier Jaunted yTravelBlog
17 Brave New Traveler My Itchy Travel Feet Fine Homes Las Vegas
18 Vagabonding My Melange Where is Jenny
19 foXnoMad 501 Places Mobile Lawyer
20 Ottsworld Travel Experiences Nerd’s Eye View Celebrated Experiences
21 Travel Wonders of the World Hole in the Donut Travel Dudes
22 Wander Mom Elliott The Carey Adventures
23 Indie Travel Podcast The Cranky Flier The Quirky Traveler
24 Heather on Her Travels Vacation Gals Europe A La Carte
25 Wandering Educators Wandering Educators Bacon is Magic
26 Travellers Point Inside the Travel Lab ZipSetGo
27 Uncornered Market Boarding Area Miss Adventures
28 Family Traveler – Soul Travelers 3 Mother of All Trips Velvet Escape
29 Travel Blogs Indie Travel Podcast Malaysia Asia
30 Ciao Bambino Travel Savvy Mom Chris Guillebeau
31 Top Travel Content – Europe Wanderlust & Lipstick Uncornered Market
32 Mother of All Trips Delicious Baby The Traveling Philosopher
33 Hotel Chatter A Traveler’s Library Two Backpackers
34 Upgrade: Travel Better Trip Base GranToursimo!
35 Inside the Travel Lab Ciao Bambino Flying Photog
36 My Itchy Travel Feet Solo Friendly Ottsworld Travel Experiences
37 Perceptive Uptake Traveling Mom
38 Sharing Travel Experiences Wander Mom Adventure Girl
39 Europe A La Carte World Hum Sheila’s Guide
40 Hole in the Donut What a Trip The Longest Way Home
41 Travel Savvy Mom Top Travel Content – Europe Eurapart
42 GranToursimo! Travel Wonders of the World Hotel PR Guy
43 Boarding Area Heather on Her Travels Vacation Gals
44 My Melange Upgrade: Travel Better Tiffany Travels
45 Vagabonish Travel Blogs Travel Blog Exchange
46 What a Trip Travellers Point Beth Blair
47 Travel Dudes Travel Blog Sites Luxury Travel Mom
48 Solo Friendly Vagabonding Travel Writer
49 501 Places Perceptive foXnoMad
50 A Traveler’s Library Sharing Travel Experiences Brooke vs. the World

Clearly the degree of online influence varies vastly depending on the metric used to rank it (social networks vs blog power). For example, EarthXplorer is extremely ‘influential’ when it comes to Klout but does not even rank as a top blog. Oppositely, Uptake is quite influential when it comes to blogging but less active or influential on Klout. Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site is pretty much influential across both realms and well respected among the most influential bloggers as is Gadling. What does this all mean?

Well, for now, influence is in the eye of the beholder, or measurer perhaps, and you need to take note of the metrics used to measure influence before you accept any list of the top 50 anything. The most influential bloggers are not necessarily the most influential in the social media realm and vice versa, particularly as narrow into specific topics as expertise varies. A list of “the top online influencers” based on Klout may leave out influential bloggers, who, as mentioned, have long been considered the most influential members of online communities. Gaining respect as a blogger is a lot harder than gaining Twitter influence (we all know that many very powerful people on Twitter are uber chatty with big numbers but don’t have real influence) and considerable influence on the blogs does not come quickly or easily. With the ever-increasing power of the social networks AND the ongoing importance of bloggers, a good strategy is to look across networks, especially if a brand navigates inside niche markets.

Ultimately, influence comes from one’s ability to draw people into a conversation AND hold them there. Influence means one’s blogs or tweets or Facebook posts are shared and re-shared throughout the online world. Influence creates action towards a person or a brand and has the power to create effect. So how influential are you?

What are your thoughts on measuring online influence in light of the growing power of the social networks?

Katie

With thanks to webtreatsVrmpX, johnrawlinson, and quinn.anya for the images.

*From Klout scores on December 15, 2010

** From Influencers in Travel’s December 16th, 2010 list

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Wineries & Social Media Part 1: David moves faster than Goliath … again.

29 09 2010

With harvest season under way in much of wine country, it seemed an appropriate time to check out the presence of the broader U.S. wine industry on various social networks and examine how social media is being used by various levels of the industry. Blogging, the backbone of any social media program, became a favored tool among wineries, wine critics and wine enthusiasts far before social networks became a powerful tool for reaching a brand’s community (we recently looked at the most influential wine bloggers attending the Wala Wala Conference). For this blog however, I set out to compare how large wineries & vineyards with substantial marketing budgets and brand recognition and small wineries & vineyards looking to establish a brand are utilizing social media beyond just the blogosphere. I stumbled across the Chandon Escape contest last spring, a highly marketed and polished contest driven by social media where entrants earned more chances to win by becoming a Fan of the Chandon Facebook page and each time they tweeted the contest hashtag. Having observed this event and being familiar with the vast marketing budgets that the country’s largest wineries are working with, I expected to see the top wine companies and their brands with highly developed social media strategies and a broad presence across the networks. I was wrong.

There are thousands of vineyards and wineries throughout the US ranging in size, distribution and personality, and their media usage is just as diverse. As I mentioned, I expected the brands from the largest wine companies to have highly polished social media pages with sophisticated campaigns. Instead, I found them largely absent from the social networks with the lower ¾ (in terms of production) of the wineries & vineyards dominating the social media sphere. Wine makers are also utilizing social media for more than just customer outreach and expanding their brand recognition. We’ll be doing a three-part series on wineries and social media, taking a look at how both large and small wineries are working with social media, as well as how social networks are for more than just reaching customers. Part 1:

With the exception of a few brands for example, namely producers of bubbly like Korbel and Chandon, the largest of the large wineries & vineyards have a very small social media presence. Using this list and these profiles, I identified the top wineries in the US. The largest companies like E&J Gallo, Constellation Wines, The Wine Group, Bronco Wine Company & Robert Mondavi produce many of the country’s most well known wine brands but have largely ignored social media as a tool to engage their communities. Most of the companies’ brands have either no social media presence at all or host Facebook pages on which they are minimally active. This is not so unusual. Indeed, in our experience, the larger the company, the less comfortable they are entering the social media sphere. Nevertheless, for products where there is widespread passion like the wine industry, we expected to see more social media use.

In contrast, other large wineries that rank at the lower end of the top US wineries lists are embracing social media and getting recognized for it. Rick Bakas and St. Supery are receiving widespread attention (from the New York Times to Reuters) for running a strong social media program that includes a blog, active Facebook page, one of the strongest Twitter programs for a winery and an virtual & interactive wine tasting program. Although lacking a key component of a social media program – a blog – Wente Vineyards also stands out for their Facebook and Twitter activities. Many other wineries of this size can be found with an active social media program including (but not at all limited to) Dry Creek Vineyard, Murphy-Goode Winery, and J. Lohr. Aside from St. Supery and Wente, these larger wineries using social media are finding general success with the platforms by posting and engaging their Facebook & Twitter communities on a regular basis and hosting a blog (albeit the blogs are often under-utilized) but there is much room for improvement in expanding brand recognition, reaching new customers and utilizing the true networking powers of the social networking platforms.

So far, a very mixed bag for the largest US wineries in terms of their social media use. Some are knocking it out of the ballpark; some haven’t even heard the train coming. What are your thoughts on why the largest wineries are largely ignoring social media? Which large wineries have you seen doing great stuff with social media?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

With thanks to Big D2112, dr_XeNo and quinn.anya for the photos.

Katie

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Should Everyone Be on Facebook? #B2B #apps

23 08 2010

Fostering strong and vibrant online communities is a key goal in any social media program. Social media allows businesses to harness the power of consumer referrals in ways not seen before. This isn’t new news; industry analysts and companies have recognized this for a number of years and the number of companies using social media to expand their consumer base and brand loyalty has grown exponentially. While more and more companies are launching their own Facebook pages, few utilize them to their full potential as Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group pointed out recently in his presentation on The 8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing. Owyang’s research revealed that most brands lack a concrete and well-defined strategy and fail to fully utilize Facebook’s features to build word of mouth among their customers. Owyang also lays out the key steps for successful Facebook page marketing, including:

  1. Set community expectations
  2. Provide cohesive branding
  3. Be up to date
  4. Live authenticity
  5. Participate in dialogue
  6. Enable peer-to-peer interaction
  7. Foster advocacy
  8. Solicit calls to action

This is great advice and is part of the key strategy for any Facebook community we enable our clients to develop, but it overlooks a couple of key issues that indicate where and how you engage. Without addressing these issues, businesses may end up with a false sense of possibility of the activity they can create on Facebook. Not all brands possess the sex appeal, business model & resources that the Fortune 500 companies Owyang researched do. So how should these brands use Facebook? Here are some points I would like discuss with the social media marketing community and the Altimeter Group when answering this question:

  1. Is Facebook marketing right for everyone? The implication from Owyang’s presentation is that because Facebook is where most people are already at and where everyone’s going, all brands should be engaging their communities on this platform. But is this true for Business-to-Business (B2B) brands? If your customer is not a single consumer that can advocate for your brand, but rather another corporation or a non-profit or a school district or a municipality, is Facebook a platform that you can reasonably expect to grow your business or should it be approached as a tool to expose your corporate culture and role in your industry as a thought leader? At Extanz, our experience indicates that Facebook must be one of a number of platforms used to reach your community in the B2B sector and resources should be spread across blogging, bloggers relations?, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
  2. If a business doesn’t have the resources to be designing custom applications to foster advocacy and interaction, are third-party applications a tool brands will find success with? Our use of third-party apps for our clients varies dramatically according to clients. These apps typically request access to your page information and the right to use the results of your participation. While for certain demographics this is not an issue, in other markets, community members may be completely unwilling to allow the access and participate via a third-party app. Sometimes they are staunch protectors of their privacy, other times they are web-savvy enough to understand the access these apps are gaining or they are web-challenged enough to be intimidated by the technology.
  3. If the sex appeal isn’t there for your brand, either because it’s not a well-known brand or it’s B2B or it’s not an industry people generally engage around or it’s a brand with a community that demands privacy, will the community engage? Our experience says yes, but it requires a strategy that is not discussed as part of the 8 Successful Criteria produced by Altimeter. So, I’d propose we add a criterion: Be a resource for your community and activate around the community interests, not just your brand. Provide them substantive and useful content e.g. industry news, tips for their lifestyle related to your service or product, cutting edge developments or trends, local news that is important to the community etc. Do not just provide updates about your brand and company news.

Social media and Facebook marketing are unquestionably an integral component to online marketing and branding for most industries. The key is ensuring you lay out a strategy that carefully balances your business objectives with the needs of your constituent community as they can be quite different before you dive in rather than simply industry standards as your strategy.

What are your thoughts on the above issues? Does Facebook work for B2B marketing? Should third-party apps be presented in a way that insinuates they would be useful and necessary to Facebook marketing strategy for all brands? How have you engaged communities that don’t automatically want to talk about your brand?

With thanks to Igi’s TV Network and Spencer E. Holtaway for the images.

Katie





Under the Influence?? The 25 Most Influential Wine Bloggers going to Walla Walla #WBC10

23 06 2010

Around Extanz, we follow the wine blogging community with enthusiasm; both as amateur connoisseurs and with an interest in how wineries themselves are utilizing blogging and social media to build their brands. These blogs are alight with chatter about the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington this weekend and we expect wineries to be paying attention to the blogging advice and social media guidance that comes out of this weekend’s many sessions and panels. Are you going to the Wine Bloggers Conference? Think you know who the most influential bloggers in attendance are? Our results may surprise you.

In Walla Walla, experts will be discussing how to increase the quality, visibility and influence of your wine blog, whether you’re someone with strong opinions on wine quality or you’re a winery looking to increase your brand awareness and customer base. There are a couple of basics for wineries to keep in mind that we imagine (or hope) you’ll hear over and over this weekend that will make your blog worth reading, a blog that people return to week after week, and a blog that other influencers take note of.

  1. Write for your audience. This may seem simple, but have you really looked at who your target audience is and considered what they would find useful, informative & entertaining?
  2. Focus outward. Simply writing about you or your business or your product does not good content make.
  3. Network and link it up. Get your blog out there, in front of the influencers and people to whom it would be interesting. This is where the use of social media can come in very handy.

So how do the conference experts that will be giving you insider knowledge to accomplish the above must-dos rank in the social media sphere? Let’s find out …

At Extanz we study influence, so we studied how the bloggers present in Walla Walla this year rank among each other in terms of influence (measured by in-links). We removed blogs that qualified as online magazines with multiple writers (Palate Press, Wine Business, Washington State Beer and Wine, and Mutineer Magazine) from the list so as to only rank independent bloggers. We also looked at their presence on Facebook and Twitter – not to gauge influence, but to get an idea of what social media tools influencers are finding useful. As we saw in the cycling community, Twitter is the social network of choice for wine bloggers as well.

Are the big names at the conference the top influencers of the wine blog community? Here are the Top 25 bloggers (of the 180 in attendance):

Blog Facebook ‘Likes’ (fans)/Friends Twitter Followers Twitter Following
1 1WineDude 1055 friends 4,139 2,893
2 Good Grape: A Wine Blog Manifesto 521 friends 2,697 2,943
3 Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine 125 members 1,533 1,386
4 Drink Nectar 2450 fans 2,673 2,665
5 Dirty South Wine 344 fans 3,841 3,455
6 Luscious Lushes 248 fans 3,200 3,405
7 Another Wine Blog 441 fans 1,615 1,538
8 Steve Heimoff | Wine Blog 1040 fans 663 160
9 Wine Peeps: A Wine Blog 2129 fans 1,989 1,698
10 Suburban Wino 323 fans 1,387 1,356
11 Cellarmistress’ Cellar Talk ? 1,929 1,598
12 Wine Tonite! 369 fans 2,667 2,298
13 Washington Wine Report 344 fans 1,373 1,219
14 Wine Biz Radio 1203 fans 6,088 2,051
15 BrixChicks ? 968 847
16 Vinotology Wine Blog 334 friends 1,711 1,543
17 PaulG’s Blog – Unfined & Unfiltered ? 468 282
18 RJ’s Wine Blog 351 friends 2,412 1,695
19 The Passionate Foodie 1071 friends 2,108 2,180
20 The Wine Whore 3409 friends 12,051 13,086
21 Notes From The Cellar 250 fans 806 245
22 Beyond the Bottle l Oregon Washington Wine Blog ? 535 376
23 Bricks of Wine 513 friends 1,792 936
24 The Wine Case ? 2,054 1,549
25 Seattle Wine Gal 4966 friends 7,302 6,622

Here are some questions for you:

  • What do you think of the results?
  • Which wine blogger(s) would you like to have been present at Walla Walla?
  • Regardless of ranking, who are you most looking forward to meeting or learning from this weekend?

With thanks to Chris g Collison, yashima, and Rob Winton for the images.

Salud!

SEE the follow up blog: http://extanz.com/2010/07/13/sparkling-feedback-on-wbc10-blog-influence-rank-the-sequel

Katie


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Cloud and be funny if you can… for us living in the cloud

7 05 2010

If like we do, you spend your time in the internet cloud 8+ hours every day, you probably have noticed or enraged … then probably laughed at those server errors. I want to extend some kudos to those good ones. If you have others, please submit them in the comment section and I’ll link back to you.

The Most known:

Twitter: The fail whale by #twitter

The Cute ones:

Bit.ly

LinkedIn

Flickr:

The Funny ones:

Google Wave:

YouTube

Plancast:

Could do better one (or I haven’t run into better ones):

Digg:

Facebook:

.. that’s it… send me yours via commenting below and I’ll add them here.

Cheers

@YannR






Ski Resorts and Snow Reports and Social Media: A match made in heaven?

19 01 2010

Howdy, Katie Van Sant here, of Extanz.com fame.  As those who read this blog know, here at Extanz, we’re always keeping an eye on trends and creative ideas in the social media sphere. My attention, therefore, is always

(and naturally) piqued when the conventional media looks at the use of social media in sectors in which I’m personally active.  Last week for example, NPR ran a story about how ski areas have been inflating snowfall data on weekends to attract skiers. While this news wasn’t much of a shocker, this next part was fascinating: ski areas that were reporting data on the popular iPhone ski report app and that had good iPhone reception (for skiers and riders to send instant condition updates) had reduced their snow report inflation due to the instant backlash by the ski and snowboard community. Yet another example of how social media is democratizing the dissemination of information across industries. These days, I too look to my iPhone for the snow report at Steamboat rather than calling the snow report hotline number I’ve had memorized since I was 6 years old.

This news made me wonder about the rest of the social media platforms – you know, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr etc. – and whether they were now being leveraged by ski areas and their customers to a similar degree. Ski areas are perfectly positioned to leverage social media because they have loyal customers like you and I, who are enthusiastic about sharing their activities on the mountain and staying up-to-date on snow conditions, competitions and events. Little did I know how much the ski areas already knew this…

So, which of the major North American ski areas do you think are taking advantage of social media’s opportunities to best connect with their community? Let’s take a look. I identified the top ski areas, compiling the top 2010 ski areas as identified by the perennial ‘best ski resorts’ reports by Skiing Magazine and Outside Magazine.  Now, I’ll acknowledge this list leaves out some of the best local and regional ski areas – Bridger Bowl, Mt. Hood Meadows, anywhere in Alaska – but we have to start somewhere. Next, representation and community engagement across social media platforms were measured.  During a recent social media presentation, Vail CEO Rob Katz brought up a key point that was taken into consideration when ranking these resorts: videos. As all you skiers and riders out there know, we spend Fall getting amped up for ski season at Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Research ski film showings. A number of other factors were considered as well in order to rank the ski areas (i.e. one resort may have had more Facebook fans, but another’s Twitter and YouTube presence trumped the Facebook fan count):

  • Facebook fans,
  • Facebook fan engagement through ‘liking,’ commenting & posting, posting pictures & videos,
  • Twitter followers & activity,
  • YouTube presence measured by subscribers, views & videos, and
  • Quality of engagement on behalf of the resort (as opposed to super enthusiastic, unprompted fan postings).

And….now for the drumroll…

The Top 10 North American Ski Resorts Utilizing Social Media are:

  1. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia: 26,059 fans, 405 fan photos, 7,856 followers, operating their own video site (rock stars!)
  2. Mammoth Mountain, California: 19,366 fans, 217 fan photos, 3,504 followers, 19,308 YouTube views
  3. Vail, Colorado: 10,049 fans, 12 fan videos, 3420 followers, 297,059 YouTube views
  4. Breckenridge, Colorado: 10,042 fans, 9 fan videos, 3,806 followers, 353,085 YouTube views
  5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming: 10,573 fans, 299 fan photos, 23 fan videos, 2,771 followers, 344,602 YouTube views
  6. Keystone, Colorado: 9,706 fans, 93 fan photos, 4,276 followers, 16,576 YouTube views
  7. Bear Mountain, California: 11,984 fans, 209 fan photos, 1,180 followers, 682 YouTube views
  8. Sugarloaf, Maine: 10,946 fans, 24 fan photos, 1,739 followers, 89,000 YouTube views
  9. Jay Peak, Vermont: 9,706 fans, 237 fan photos, 1460 followers, 44,198 YouTube views
  10. Sunday River, Maine: 7,460 fans, 49 fan photos, 1,706 followers, 319,591 YouTube views

With an honorable mention: Steamboat Springs, CO: Steamboat can’t get it’s social media act together with two competing Facebook and Twitter sites, but between the 2 sites (admittedly, there’s overlap), Steamboat has 11,286 fans, 151 fan photos, and 1,918 followers.

Wow! Clearly, Whistler Blackcomb is blowing everyone else out of the water, even the ski areas run by Vail Resorts (Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creak, Breckenridge, Heavenly). As you may know, Vail Resorts implemented a much covered social media strategy this season, shifting 80% of its print advertising budget to social media and other short-lead mediums. Its resorts are showing strong results in the social media sphere, but the results are often community driven, i.e. these resorts are maintaining their social media sites, but not engaging their communities on the level other Top 10 resorts are. Interestingly, Heavenly, the largest U.S. ski resort, doesn’t even rank in the Top 10. Remember the ski videos? Vail Resorts took this info and ran with it, garnering YouTube views only matched by Jackson Hole, the long-time leader in ski videos.

So, is Whistler’s dominance driven by the looming 2010 Winter Olympics? OR do people just really love Whistler? What do you think?

We’ll ponder the ‘Olympic Effect’ in upcoming posts and see what else is going on at the nexus of social media and the ski industry!

Thanks to tim_in_sydney and toetoe for the great pictures.

Katie








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