Archives for posts with tag: Klout

I do much of my grocery shopping at Giant Eagle. In the warmer months, we get a weekly goody bag of fruit and veggies from a local farmer as part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.) But most of the year, we’re lured to Giant Eagle because of the discounts it offers regular shoppers and the wide selection of gluten-free and organic food.

I have a rewards-related credit card associated with the company, which bestows discounts at all branded stores. When consumers with reward cards patronize the company’s gas stations with car washes, and grocery and convenience stores — taking advantage of many of the weekly specials — it really adds up. Our family has saved almost $2,000 in the past year. My local Giant Eagle grocery store has a Starbucks inside, too, so I sip coffee as I shop. (And all spending, even on my beloved java, is counted toward a discount on gas when I fill up.) Lovely.

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about targeted marketing and customized perks based on buying habits. Of course Giant Eagle is tracking everything I buy. Otherwise, it couldn’t offer me every fifth cup of coffee free (which is tracked electronically on my rewards card). And it also wouldn’t know to give me $2.21 off the last tank of gas I filled up with, based on the amount I had spent — and saved on — in-store grocery specials. Nor, would the company be able to tell me that I’d saved $1,996.75 through the various perks and savings and other tied-discounts it offers customers who take the time to look for those deals.

Of course, the company is keeping very close dibs on me, mainly, to serve itself. And I feel more than a little conflicted about this.

In an era filled with consumer scoring, from Klout to frequent flyer perks to special grocery store offers, it makes me a wee wistful for the days when we were all more anonymous. I love the treats that come from being a “regular.” There’s nothing new in that. It’s a concept even older than tabs the barkeep ran for local cowboys whetting their whistles in the saloons. Their chums knew them. The bar keep knew them. But no one else did (except the Sheriff, who likely also knew the shady ones…)

Nowadays, though, we need to realize that to snag perks that come from being “score-able” we trade-off the ability to be unknown. The benefits that come with being a good customer in this era means we have given up enough privacy that our service providers are able to know, accurately, what kind of customers we are. They know when we shop. What we buy. And where we live, among other things. That brings me to the hummus and the organic apples.

Today in the mail (snail mail, interestingly), Giant Eagle sent me coupons truly customized for me. They fit my buying habits. And they give $1 or more on things I already buy frequently, such as “loose organic apples” and “Market District hummus” and other specific items I buy. (They know this, of course, because it’s monitored, recorded and parsed.)

I was pleased and a little freaked out all at the same time. I didn’t ask for these or even know they were coming.

There’s no going back to a time when this kind of thing won’t happen. Now, no matter what the venue, customers who are deemed more valuable, loyal or otherwise influential are wooed. They have more Klout. And technology makes this possible to track and act upon.

Still, it makes me aware that with great advances technology brings, we need to be careful how the data are collected, used and analyzed. It’s innocent enough to give me $5 off my apples and hummus and other items. It’s more complicated and perhaps more concerning, though, as the special deals offered to consumers become increasingly targeted and connected to their behavior and choices — and to their personal information and social scores, online or offline. I wonder if related technology will make more polarized and striated our society, which, to my mind, is already experiencing a too-wide gulf in income and with access to medical care and quality, public education and job prospects.

I just finished Mark W. Schaefer’s excellent book on influence and social scoring called Return on Influence. Undoubtedly, this is why the issue was top of mind. So many aspects of this trend are wonderful and open up opportunities for sellers that make their jobs more efficient and cost-effective and for buyers that make their experiences more fun and rewarding. (Could this technology give rise to marketing that’s so targeted it ends junk mail someday? Well, we can hope!)

Technology and social media enable amazing access and reach. And social media is a great equalizer in many respects — you don’t need an Ivy League degree or the “right” pedigree to influence on social media. You do need to reach and interact with an influential audience that finds you and your content that way, too, and that shares your content and comments on your blog posts. This is among the points that Return on Influence makes so well.

Yet even though the power hierarchy of decades past doesn’t apply in the same way today, segregation between the haves and have-nots or between the influencers and those without influence continues. It just looks different.

I am going to go buy my apples, hummus and other items and happily claim my discount at Giant Eagle. (I’m seeing if I can get my 12 month savings to $2,500. And I’m thinking of approaching the company to tell them about my quest, blog about it and see what else that yields…) But I remain mindful of the power that modern-day consumers can amass as influencers. It’s great for marketers. And great for some consumers. But maybe not so much for others.

As this power gets shaped and grows I believe we should be aware of, if not concerned about, the gulf. I love the concept of using social media for social good, where access increases so the benefits from technological innovations spread. Anyway, that’s part of my goal in working with and through social media.

The question is: Can this be done? And, if so, how?

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You can see my full social presence at http://XeeMe.com/beckygaylord

My social media profiles on XeeMe

One of my current favorite social media sites is XeeMe. And I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay that way for a while. It makes so much sense: it’s a tool that takes the panoply of social media profiles, handles and identities many of us have and allows those to be cataloged and discovered in one place. It has other benefits and uses, too. (Lest it appear otherwise, I have no financial or other ties to XeeMe, pronounced “see me.”)

But in my view, the most valuable aspect of XeeMe is that it lets you bundle together in one place all of your social media affiliations that you want your blog audience, potential employers, clients, associates, friends, professional contacts and family to have.

Just above is a screen shot of mine.

So, you can choose to include, say, a personal Face Book page and also the Pinterest account you use to pin images related to a hobby. And in the same grouping of social media profiles, you can include your LinkedIn account as well as a work website (which, cleverly, can be “disassociated” when you switch jobs). I included those four, and 14 others. XeeMe currently enables users to list a profile on about 200 social media sites.

Founded by Axel Schultze, XeeMe describes itself on its website as:

“A social media software company focusing on social presence management. The social presence is the sum of all social profiles of an individual or brand and the foundation of any social media engagement. A ‘XeeMe’ lets users or brands organize, grow and monitor their social presence in an easy to use and professional manner.”

“Social presence”

Until I read that phrase and found XeeMe (thanks to this great post by Mark Q. Todd ) I hadn’t thought about this idea, in this way. But, of course, that’s exactly what we have: a social media presence — call it a brand — that is the sum of our links, connections, interactions, posts, shares and contributions across social media.

One analogy that comes to mind dates to the early 2000s, when cell phone numbers in the U.S. weren’t portable. It was madness because any time you switched carriers — or even, sometimes, phones — you had to get a new mobile number. That ID is an anchor for our contacts. Today, we routinely keep our mobile number even when moving to a city with a different area code because changing it is just too disruptive to our personal and professional networks and to the ability to stay in touch with contacts easily.

Personal and professional brands are converging

Commonly now, our tracks across social media seem to also follow us indefinitely. References, posts or tags you erase can often be found cached. And who knows where control of Face Book’s timeline will eventually reside. It’s just easier to watch what you post than try to keep up with the latest policies about turning off or on privacy screens on social media sites.

I think this convergence between our personal and professional brands is inevitable and absolutely wonderful. It’s also convenient. And it simply makes sense. Forcing a wall between them seems artificial in many, if not most, respects. (Especially when the account holder controls which pages and profiles get linked or assembled, as happens on XeeMe.)

So why isn’t Google+ there, yet?

However, through Google+ I have been extremely frustrated in trying to accelerate this process. Let me explain. I have a personal Gmail account. Separately, my work email is also on a Google platform. I love Google. I love my Google calendars. I love Chrome. Google docs, etc. I’m. A. Big. Fan.

So, after Google+ came out, I signed up with my personal Gmail account. And I started circling people. Very soon it became apparent I wanted to circle work-related contacts. But I didn’t want to do that using my personal Gmail account. Why? Because the name attached to that account includes my married last name. I don’t use my married name for work. I was a journalist for more than 15 years. My byline was my maiden name. And it remains my professional ID. My professional brand. And the name of my company.

Yes, the brands are converging, but I will always have some spheres where I use my married name: at church, in the neighborhood, at school and so on. And I will have other spheres where I use my professional name. My contacts should be able to find my brand through my social media footprints whether they come there via a professional or a personal relationship.

A mess of circles

In the end, I signed up for Google+ using my work Gmail, too. And then it got really crazy. A couple of folks I know personally somehow found me through my work Google+ profile. I’ve got a few people circled in both accounts. But most are separate, as if my two Gmail accounts are held by different people. And at one point, Google+ sent a note to Becky Gaylord McDonald asking if she wanted to circle Becky Gaylord. I think I still have one profile in the other one’s circles, but not the other way around. It’s nuts.

I have sent notes about this to Gmail and Google+ pros in the social media community. I also initiated an exchange that produced a response from a manager directly connected with the Google+ product. And while I nearly begged Google to let people merge their accounts and thus, their circles…so far, nothing.

Yes, I know you can post other social media sites and links on your Google+ profile. And I’ve done that. But it doesn’t deal with my main gripe. If I want to merge these accounts — which together represent my brand — I should be able to. And if you don’t want to merge yours, you should be able to keep them separate. (Although I think it’s folly to think there won’t be people who stumble across more than one profile being maintained by the same user.)

My point is: this should be easy, not just to make it convenient. It should be easy because it would acknowledge the brand convergence trend that’s well underway. I want to help my network — which includes many personal contacts, many professional contacts, and many who fall into both categories — to see me across the full range of social media I use.

And on Google, I can’t. The problem is compounded on Klout, because only one of my Google+ accounts could be registered by Klout and thus, tracked and monitored by Klout. (Perhaps Klout could start allowing users to put in more than one Google+ account?) I think it would also be a huge leap forward to include XeeMe in a Klout score.

I can’t be the only one who has two Gmail accounts who wants to be rid of confusing, frustrating, senseless segregation between them.

An idea of what it could look like

I’d like to be able to switch between accounts when I +1 something or share something publicly. As it stands, my tracks across Google+ depend on which account I was logged into at the time I was searching or posting. What I want is something like a drop down that lets me click on a +1 or share with either Gmail account and toggle between them. Something, in fact, just like I’ve had on email for years: I can choose among several of my email addresses when sending a message. For example, a message going to my son’s teacher uses my personal email. And one going to a client uses my work email.

It’s just not that hard.

Okay, so that’s much more than I expected to say. Thanks for hanging in there. I’d be thrilled to hear any suggestions or comments from you.

Oh, and Google, I still love you, but please hear my plea! In the meantime, my entire social media presence is here: http://xeeme.com/BeckyGaylord