The Unsociable Social Capital Company

April 1, 2011 · 18 comments

During Social Media World Forum this week, social capital and influence were hotly discussed topics. Scoring people by their use of social tools is a huge opportunity to make money and won’t be disappearing anytime soon, so a panel debate on the subject took place which included the CEO of Peer Index.

Peer Index measure your online capital, rate the information you share with others, and compares you to your friends and peers. Their main competitor is Klout, who state that they measure online influence.

After all the talk about the rising popularity of services such as these, and the possible benefits, dangers and future implications, I decided to create an account on Peer Index to test it for myself.

I linked it to my Twitter account and was given a PeerIndex Score. I then linked it to my Facebook, Linked In, Quora and blog – exactly the same score was given. This seemed like a mistake as it surely should have risen or fallen, so I tweeted them…

Hi @PeerIndex. I added my Twitter and you gave me one score. I added my Facebook. LinkedIn, Quora and Blog – exactly the same. Really? #smwf

No response. A day later I tried again…

@PeerIndex Hey. You didn’t respond to my tweet last night and I can see you’ve been active since then ;-)

No response again.

For a company that is measuring and ‘deciding’ the social capital of online users, why are they being so unsocial?

I checked their account and they have six members of staff managing it. I checked how many mentions they were receiving during the conference and there were never more than two or three enquiries an hour.

The advice handed out to companies by almost every consultant or professional is that if you’re not going to be present to manage your accounts, don’t set them up at all. Also, if your customers are trying to speak to you, it is courteous to respond.

Whilst I’m not overly fussed about what my perceived capital or influence is, I would just like some sort of response. Even if it is “sorry, we don’t know” or “we will look into it”. Anything just to show they are listening to the people that are using their service and providing them with the data they need.

Peer Index wouldn’t put the phone down on a customer who is asking them a question, so why do it on Twitter?

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Update

Almost eight days after the original tweet, and after a public Twitter conversation with a friend about the scenario, and after leaving a comment on the Peer Index blog, I’ve receieved a response:

@robertpickstone We update your PI score over time as we aggregate your actions. You should see your score change over time.

@robertpickstone And yeah, sorry for a late reply ;)

 

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  • http://www.inspiration.co.uk Ash Mashhadi (@inspirationguy)

    You make a good point here, Rob. Peer Index are definitely not living up to expectations.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Thanks. 200 staff worldwide, working on social captial and they can’t answer one of the few social questions they get asked – not good.

  • http://twitter.com/daleGmoore Dale Moore

    Good work Rob on checking up on this. I think we can safely say that you’ve caught them out. This is one of the problems with the whole social media thing isn’t it? It’s very easy for people to set up all sorts of profiles and them not service them. I admit it can be difficult but there are tools available to help you manage your various profiles (perhaps this will be the topic of one of the blog posts I have planned!).

    I’ve come across many blog posts which, when I was following the thread which led me there, gave me the impression that it was authoritative. Only to discover that there were no comments, despite the post being several days old. Don’t get me wrong, there are many fine posts that don’t attract the traffic they deserve and there’s nothing wrong with continuing to blog even if no one, or very few people, are commenting. It a fact that more people read than comment and you can always check the visitor logs to verify this.

    The problems occur when individuals or organisations set themselves up as some kind of authority or would be trend setter giving the impression that you really should be paying attention to them because they are very important. But this just proves how important it is to be discerning when reading social media texts.

    For me, the whole point of social media on the world wide web is that it’s there for everyone. In any case, what you have to say is more important than who you are.

  • http://twitter.com/iclairemeredith Claire Meredith

    Yes, there is no point in having a Twitter account if you don’t want to engage. And by not answering, it appears that Peer Index don’t WANT to engage. There is nothing more off-putting. One way communication in a business which becomes two way is 1) precious to the business and 2) makes life more interesting!

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Exactly, Claire. It is probably worse that they are picking and choosing who they are engaging with. The excuse of “we didn’t see it” or “we couldn’t manage all of our mentions” just doesn’t apply. They are ignoring users of their service because they don’t want to respond to them. On the other hand, I hand a problem with the service I use for comments on this blog – Disqus – and they were very happy to respond to tweets and help me!

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    It just amazes me how a company whose business model quite obviously does, and will, depend on the users of their service doesn’t respond to those users. Not just any company though – one focusing on the use of social media.

    On the bloggging point – many people are trying to be experts. It is very cheap to host your own space and direct people towards it. Quite rightly, everyone has an opportunity to share their expertise, advice and ideas. We are all media channels these days. Like you said though, there are dangers to this. People may even be reading this blog and thinking “what does he know?!”. Audiences should hopefully be intelligent enough to spot the quality but with social media in particular, it is amazing how many ‘experts’ there are who have very little experience or results to back it up.

  • http://www.jedlangdon.com/ Jed Langdon

    Hi Rob. I don’t think I need to tell you how much this makes me cringe, as we have had this conversation many times before. Interestingly, after reading this I went over to PeerIndex to have a look for myself, having never used the service before. One of the first things I did was click on help and support and found this question and answer:

    I have refreshed all my social media profiles, why don’t I see an improvement in my PeerIndex?
    “Our database does not reflect the impact of social media profile inputs immediately. Give us a few days and check back! If you still don’t see a difference in your scores in a week, please let us know”

    So they already have an answer there. All they needed to do was send you the link to this page and hey presto, another user has his answer and is going away satisfied! Instead a dissatisfied user goes away and tells all his friends, who all now think less of the service as a result. I know which way I’d run my Twitter account….

  • http://twitter.com/RaelinM Raelin Musuraca

    It appears as if Peer Index is hiding something. And appearance is everything, isn’t it?

    Based on your experience, I would not trust the accuracy of that service. Which is a shame because I was looking for an alternative to Klout because I feel it to be fairly flawed as well.

    Funny thing is, I don’t even “know” you… but you look like an expert, you engage with people I consider experts, and Peer Index has not refuted your experience. So it must be true ;)

    I guess Peer Index worked in one manner—you now know that you do have more social capital than they do.

  • http://twitter.com/vmcconville Vince McConville

    Hi Rob, Hope you are enjoying the Big Smoke!
    Very Poor performance from Peer Index. Doesn’t bode well for their SM street cred!
    Cheers
    Vince

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Hi Vince,

    Having a great time thanks! The hours are longer and it’s a bit more hetic but glad I made the move. Hope everything is going well is your newish role too.

    I agree with your assessment – poor!

    Rob

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Hi Raelin,

    Thanks for your comment.

    It is very strange for a company that is deciding how people should use social tools to gain capital, does not use social tools to engage properly. There may be other users like me who have had similar experiences. What type of company doesn’t respond to their users?

    One more thing – I wonder if their social media monitoring is up to scratch? I wonder if they will spot this conversation about their company? We have all mentioned their name enough times!

    Thanks again for your views – I really appreciate them.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Hi Jed,

    Thanks for that. That makes it even worse! There wasn’t a need to spend hours of their resource finding an answer to my question. They just needed to point me towards an answer they had already prepared. They chose not to though, but still pick and choose which other enquiries they answered. Shocking.

    I just can’t get my head around why they would do this. Maybe I don’t have a high enough PeerIndex Score to be worthy of a reply?

  • http://twitter.com/integr8_network Integr8 Networking

    I think if you wait a few days you’ll see your ‘peerindex’ gradually improve as you add other social media platforms. Youll also see it improve as it begins to really assess the data. All it takes is a little patience and understanding – both very important in terms of building REAL social capital.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Hi,

    Thank you very much for your help. You will probably be correct – I’ll have to stop by Peer Index next week to see if anything has changed.

    Like I said, I’m not overally fussed about my score. I just find it strange how they didn’t respond to my tweets when they were responding to others during the same time period. Customer service and courtesy were not shown on one side – patience and understanding has been shown on the other as I left it days before I blogged about it and have said nothing which is not true. If anything, I hope this whole discussion will ‘improve’ my score ;-)

    The very best of luck with your Social Capital business and I hope all is well in Brisbane.

  • http://twitter.com/integr8_network Integr8 Networking

    Thanks for your well-wishes. Brisbane is good and quite recovered from the recent flooding.

    I was checking your Peerindex score – 44 (whatever that means). You’ve made a whole bunch of tweets, you’ve got many more followers than you’re following, you have lots of connections on Linkedin and plenty of friends on Facebook and of course there is this well resourced blog. Peerindex should rank you well eventually I would say.

    I hope you don’t mind me sticky-beaking but this blog seems like a nice place to hang around. Lots of friendly contributors.

    Regards
    Paul Cunningham

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Hi Paul,

    Great to hear that Brisbane is recovering.

    I’m not really sure what Peer Index base their scores on. The question was asked by a member of the audience at the conference last week but it was dodged pretty well by the CEO. The way it was asked was very blunt and I am trying to find footage of the whole panel discsussion.

    Thank you for your comments about this blog being a nice place full of friendly contributors. I am lucky enough to have met many of them and I love to keep in touch and talk about mutual interests. There are also many others who I haven’t met in person yet but I’m trying to make an effort of doing so when our paths cross. It means an awful lot for people to spend their spare time sharing thoughts on my blog, so I try to keep in touch and give as much back as possible.

    I hope you find my next blog post interesting. I feel like I’m under a little bit of pressure now! ;-)

    Thanks

    Rob

  • http://conversational-uk.co.uk/ Richard Baker

    Good post Robert. I don’t rate it – signed up , did some fiddling, left it, no change.

  • http://www.robertpickstone.com Robert Pickstone

    Thanks Richard. The scores do seem strange. I’m also wandering whether you actually have to be active on all the platforms they measure – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and a Blog. If so, that’s an awful lot of time having to be spent on many different websites to be gain ‘capital’.

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