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In this week’s edition of “Cynopsis: Classified Advantage” (part of a highly regarded set of newsletters from Cynopsis Media, for the TV and Media Industries) – Editor John Cox articulates the dilemma many of us face on LinkedIn:

… I received an email from someone I have never met in person, asking if I knew anyone who worked at a particular company.  I do, and I’m pretty sure he can see that I do.  He wants an introduction because he is applying for a job and would like to correspond with an insider.  In theory I have no problem in doing this.  In theory.

Many of you, particularly those who have had relatively long or successful careers, know where this is going. We’re at a stage of our careers where we have a broad network of colleagues consisting of VP-level executives, CxO’s, and other well-known founders and thought leaders. We also want to connect or otherwise help as many people as we can. It’s not just about giving back; it’s part of our modern networking culture. Bigger-picture thinking: Add value to others by passing along ideas, opportunities and connections, and it will in turn increase our value. But, here’s the dilemma:

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I finally get Klout. No, I never had much clout in any kind of situation, but I finally understand the concept of “Klout” – the social influence metric.

Klout is like a credit score for social networking influence, calculating and assigning a number that depicts a person’s relative influence (clout) in the social networking universe – Facebook, Twitter, G+, foursquare, and just about every relevant social network out there.  I remember signing up for Klout several years ago, like I do with many online services.  After an initial period of fascination, it was relegated to the back burner of my mind.

Every so often I’d get an email telling me my current Klout score.  The Klout Score is a number between 1-100 that represents your influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.  But like getting a credit score that no one else really reads, Klout had little impact, much less meaning, in my personal or professional life.   Klout was more like a vanity metric, or an attempt at “gamification” – i.e. trying to change my behavior based on my desire to get a higher ranking on Klout.

In May, I received a gift card from Coffee Bean just because I maintained a relatively high Klout score.   I didn’t think too much of it at the time; it seemed like any one of a number of direct marketing incentives we get all the time.

Whack on the head

Then, less than 2 weeks ago, I had an “aha moment” with Klout.

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I was merely going to retweet this funny little factoid from Social Rehab – a company with apps designed to get you to reduce your online dependence – my retweet was to include an inevitable quip.  Then I realized, I had far too many clever retorts to ever fit inside a single tweet.

Before I release my incredible capacity for sarcasm on the world, I must point out that the Social Rehab factoid is misleading and inaccurate (and dated).   Apparently, I’m late to this party.   The ‘statistic’ was a meme at least as far back as 2010 when a ‘recent survey […] uncovered the disturbing statistic‘ :

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I got an email from Foursquare a few weeks ago, that started off with:

First off, thanks for believing in our little startup as we try to build an awesome service for you. You were one of the first hundred thousand members of our community (to be exact, you’re member #39,755)! You can tell your grandkids that you were a 21st century trendsetter! They’ll look at you in amazement as they cruise by on their hoverboards.

Actually I am a little amazed that they don’t have a badge or other icon that indicates the (relatively) low member number – unless they are worried about alienating late-mainstream members.

There’s nothing like a having a low badge number in a big company

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