Klout is not all about “Me Myself and I” [Opinion]

When Klout changed its algorithm a few weeks ago (the so-called “Kloutapocalypse”, I’m still laughing out loud about that one), it was like Armageddon was upon us. The end of the world. Even Bruce Willis could not save us. The numerous, vehement and even violent reactions we all read on our timelines, news feeds and other locations made me either want to cry or laugh (I chose to laugh and almost ruptured my spleen doing so). I mean, come on. Yeah, your Klout score dropped a few points and it’s more complicated now to raise it back up again. So what? It’s not the end of the world. Quite the contrary!

Okay I admit, even though it has nothing to do with the “why” and “what” of the changes, their “how” is still a bit foggy to me. When I’m very engaged and actively mentioned or retweeted, my Klout score drops. But when I’m offline – because, yes, even social media marketers have a life offline, sometimes – and my social media activity is kept to a minimum with some automated tweets and no interaction, it goes higher. Go figure!

Still, even though I have no idea how the new Klout algorithm works, I saw and still see this change as a positive one – yes, even though I lost 20 points (I was at almost 70 points and all of a sudden I find myself struggling to keep myself above 50). Why? Because I think it is a change for the better, and I’m not the only one. In short, for many, including me, this change makes the Klout score much more credible and much more accurate. My “Twitter buddy” and MarketMeSuite CEO Tammy Fennell wrote a great article on the topic which I fully and completely agree with Since I can’t do any better than her, I encourage you to read her article.

At this point and before I go any further, let me just say that I know I’m probably treading on thin ice again (but if you are a regular reader of my posts, you know how much I enjoy doing it) and that this article reflects my personal opinion only.

It is true that Klout should perhaps have communicated better. And it is true that it would be great if their new algorithm was simple to understand, like Facebook’s EdgeRank is. However, this is actually quite secondary in the point I want to make.

And so, now to get to the point: when I read reactions like “Bah! I deleted my Klout profile, this is all bull****!!!!!”, I first wonder what Klout could possibly have done to people for them to love it so much that the minute it changes, they hate it with such rage and passion (and how they did it, I’m dead serious: awakening passion like this takes a true marketing genius, doesn’t it?).

I also have to fight the urge to post a reply: “Dude, do you really think Klout is biting their nails and crying, “Oh Nooooo, Mr X left us!”. Be reasonable. You can “delete” all you want, Klout does not care, for one very simple reason: you’re not deleting your profile. You’re just deactivating it – opting-out. Everyone who has Twitter has Klout. Everyone. This is even the Klout slogan you see when you go to their homepage “Everybody has Klout”. Duh. You’re on Twitter, you’re automatically indexed on Klout, even if you have not opted-in, even if you don’t know it, even if you don’t want it. You automatically have a Klout score, and your topics of influence are automatically calculated. Anyone. Even bots. Anyone.

Klout has been working this way from day one, and if you have been there since before they made the changes, you know it. You’re burying your head in the sand, because if you’re so angry about the changes, it means you used to be a Klout fan.

Which brings me to the main point of this article. This Klout specificity of indexing absolutely everyone makes it truly unique. It makes Klout a directory of people to follow or not to follow. People to connect with or not. It’s such a powerful networking tool! Through Klout, you can identify the influencers in your industry, in your topics of interests, in your clients’ industries… in just a couple clicks. All you have to do then is to connect with these people on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., connect with their connections, and so on and so forth.

Ultimately, isn’t that what social media and social networking is all about? Or am I stupid and naive to think that since the word “social” is in social networking, it means it’s about the others and not about you?

So stop being self-centered, stop your navel-gazing, stop obsessing about your Klout score, stop crying because you “worked so hard to raise your Klout score”. You missed the point. Stop making it about you and only you.

Stop that stupid “revolution” of “Oh God, I hate Klout, how could they do this to me, I’m going to protest and delete my profile” because Klout could not care less. You think you are depriving Klout of your presence? The truth is, you are only doing yourself wrong by depriving yourself of a great, easy-to-use and powerful networking tool that can give you access to industry leaders and influencers.

Start focusing on other people’s Klout topics and scores, because there are potential partners, potential clients, potential buddies, potential service providers – potential business and personal opportunities out th ere.

And isn’t that the ultimate goal, the true reason why we, all of us, are using social media?

The tricky question of LinkedIn recommendations

When asked about recommendations in LinkedIn profile optimization, I always have to swallow first before feeling like walking on eggs. I mean, of course recommendations are a must for a solid and convincing profile on LinkedIn. There’s no questioning that (anyone who wants to argue is welcome to do so though). But there are two stones in my shoe (my poor foot). The first stone is called “You-recommend-me-so-I-recommend-you” and the second one “we-never-actually-really-worked-together-but-please-recommend-me”.

Seriously, how credible do you think this is when your LinkedIn profile proudly displays 5 recommendations from 5 people you have recommended yourself? Keep in mind that anyone in your network can see on your profile who you have recommended, and it takes a potential employer/client/partner seconds to connect the dots.

Careful. I am not saying to never recommend someone back. There are cases, particularly in a partnership/collaboration setting, when both parties can truly and sincerely recommend each other because they have truly and actually really worked together. In the translation industry for example, there’s nothing wrong with a PM recommending a translator and the translator recommending the PM – that is, of course, if parties truly had a fruitful and successful collaboration and really mean what they write on LinkedIn.

Ok, I’m aware that I’m probably throwing the cat in the pigeons once more, since “Recommend Back” is widely and largely done and there seem to be no “set” rule on that. But come on people, use your common sense and be careful – all your recommendations should not be from people you recommended as well. I like to say that a reasonnable compromise is that 30 to 40% maximum of the recommendations on your profile are coming from people you recommended (this is arbitrary – just my personal guts feeling after visiting hundreds of profiles to recruit). Yep, less than half. Otherwise, I think that the risk of hurting your credibility is too high.

The LinkedIn etiquette might make you feel somehow uncomfortable about not recommending someone back, but if you have nothing to write (or had a bad experience with them of course in which case you don’t want to recommend this person to anyone), then just don’t do it. Seriously. Just because they recommended you does not mean you have to recommend them back. Particulary when you have nothing to say.

For example: you have been a speaker at a conference. It’s ok for attendees to recommend your work as a trainer/speaker if they liked your presentation – it’s good for your credibility as a speaker in your industry! – but about half of them will ask you to recommend them back. Just because they recommended you, they expect that from you. Er…. What could you possibly write about them (if you remember them at all, among the 200 something attendees – ah, that guy with the red tie?) “Mr X is a great attendee, he did not yawn and only scratched his nose once during my presentation”? Come on…

It is a tricky question. It is even more when you have a “Would you endorse me?” message sitting in your inbox for 3 weeks because you have no idea what you could possibly say about the person. And you don’t feel comfortable saying no because, after all, that person wrote a really nice recommendation about you.

Well in such cases I try, as diplomatically as possible, to explain that while I would LOVE to be able to write them an amazing recommendation, I actually have nothing to say. Tricky, tricky.

On the other hand, you can’t not recommend anyone at all. It just feels wrong. It gives the image that you just take and don’t give, which is exactly what networking in general (online or in-person) is not about. Tricky, tricky.

So at the end of the day, my best guess is that it’s all about juggling.

Here’s how I do it on my profile – not sure I’m doing it right, but then no-one really is as there is no set rule on that. I just feel like my way is the most appropriate one in light of my feeling, impressions, culture and goals. I have about 60 recommendations in total (one, including me, could also argue about the image that a high number of recommendations has on your online credibility, but that’s another matter). From those 60, about 20 are hidden – so for anyone looking at my profile, I have 40 something recommendations.
Why did I hide those? Because they came from people that I sincerely recommended first. I never, ever ask for a recommend-back after I recommended someone. Never.

Still, because I wrote one for them, they felt they HAD to recommend me back, without me asking anything. And many of those recommendations are actually… well…”emtpy”, because they had not really worked with me and had nothing to say. By hiding those “template” recommendations, I actually do all of us a favor. To them, because now my recommendations on their profiles are unique and one-way ones, which looks much more sincere and true (better credibility for them) And to me, for the same reason – and it shows on my profile that I am also a giver, not just a receiver. We’re talking here about “genuine giver”, not the “you-recommend-me-because-I-recommended-you kind of giver – just to make it clear.
The same situation happened with another colleague, but this time, after I had recommended her, she said “Ok, I’ll recommend you back. What should I write?” Wow.
In the same vein, I had a work colleague once who asked me to recommend him. Which I accepted with pleasure as I loved him and had many great things to tell about him. After he received my recommendation, he looked at me over his computer screen and said “Wow, thanks! I’ll recommend you back now.” My “No” totally caught him by surprise. Well he understood after I explained, but he certainly thought I was nuts.

Now, in light of all this (and more), how many LinkedIn recommendations do you think are genuine and sincere? I don’t know, I really have no idea. But I do think that while many are truthful, credible and sincere, there is a big part of them that are not, for all the reasons explained in this article.

So do yourself and your contacts a favor and don’t systematically ask to be recommended back. And don’t ask recommendations to people who can’t really recommend you – you’ll spare them this uncomfortable feeling of guilt that since you asked or since you recommended them, they have to do it while they can’t. You’ll do yourself a favor by displaying only true and genuine recommendations on your profile, and not “empty” generic ones that your contacts felt obliged to do – and believe me, to visitors to your profile, the difference is dead easy to spot…

Series of webinars on Social networking and Social Media for translators

I’m happy to announce my upcoming series of webinars on the topic of social networking and Social Media marketing for translators.

The program goes as follows:

November 17th: Do freelancers need Google+ and Facebook as marketing tools?

Learn about the features, capabilities and etiquette of Facebook and Google+, learn what they can (and can’t!) do for you, and find out whether your translator marketing strategy can benefit from them.
Duration: 60 minutes, including 15 minutes Q/A
Price: 11 EUR, including unlimited access to the course materials and webinar video afterwards. Complete course description and registration here.

November 24th: Twitter: your freelance business’ best friend

Did you know that Twitter remains largely underestimated and misused even though it is probably the most powerful networking and marketing tool out there? Learn in this webinar just how powerful it is and what you can do to harness that power and make the most of it for your personal and professional development.
Duration: 60 minutes, including 15 minutes Q/A
Price: 15 EUR, including unlimited access to the course materials and webinar video afterwards. Complete course description and registration here.

December 1st:  LinkedIn good practices for translators

LinkedIn is the number one business social network out there. In 2011, they passed the 100-million-user mark. As freelancers, it has become clear now that you need to be on there as well. But how? Get some keys during this webinar to take your career and your business to the next level!
Duration: 60 minutes, including 15 minutes Q/A
Price: 15 EUR, including unlimited access to the course materials and webinar video afterwards. Complete course description and registration here.