Check Today’s Boston Globe on Klout and the Ascent of the Social Media Climber

This morning I had the pleasure of finding myself quoted in a Boston Globe article along with the likes of Chris Brogan, Augie Ray and Mark Schaefer on Klout Score and social influence.

As a digital marketing speaker, it matters to me if audiences or events use the Klout Score as “social proof.”  As an acquisition marketer, it matters if Google starts to incorporate this score into how it assigns page rank.  I’ll do a post here sometime soon on the specific metrics I care most about in personal social media.

Though more interesting than vital, having a daily score is fixating. Up or down, right or wrong track, Klout suggests how your brand is faring day to day. It’s all fun until someone who matters to you starts to really make decisions based on this little number. Then, right or wrong, if it matters to people who matter to me, it gets some attention.

There’s a hunger for simple scoreboards and standings so we can know if we’re ahead of the pack or behind.  People are so hungry for direction that quite often they grab on to bogus measures in the hope that being a little valid is better than nothing. Of course, influence can’t be reliably reduced to a single measure any more than relevancy can. But when people do exactly that, it can take on a reality of its own. FICO credit scores are more valid than tarot card readings, but they are both dependent on who believes in them.

The way people use metrics may say more about those who do the measuring than those being measured.  Marketers who measure in terms of revenue and relationship have stayed in the hunt long enough to have some real results. Those who are measuring against an “ego rank” may succeed in moving their score, but most brands want to reach people who connect with their target audiences, and who represent their brand values in a credible way.

So, do I buy Klout Score? There are plenty of examples of how Klout overvalues Tweet frequency, and it reserves the “up and to the right” part of their charts for more general-interest tweets rather than those who come back to a core issue space. There are other metrics that measure engagement better, but none are as fast, as fun, or as clear-cut as Klout. What it sacrifices in validity, it makes up for in snackability. That gives it a narcotic quality. So even if it’s bogus, the faith others put in it makes it worth keeping an eye on.

After all, it probably is a more valid and informative measure than a horoscope or tarot cards.  Want to see what we can learn? Here’s my chart; give me your best reading.  And we’ll see how today’s article changes it. And while we’re at it: How’s your score today? Do you care…yet?

3 Responses to "Check Today’s Boston Globe on Klout and the Ascent of the Social Media Climber"

  • Mani

    March 11, 2011

    You hit the nail right on the head about the benefit of Klout’s snackable quality and on how it doesn’t matter how so-called accurate it is as it continues to increase in people accepting it as having a particular value it becomes that very measuring stick that it claims to be.

  • […] The Boston Globe recently asked me if Klout scores (a social media ranking) were valid and objective measures of social influence. I just laughed, because once the people who pay me believe a measure is valid, then it is in fact driving the influence which is most important to me. […]

  • […] Or just that they are selfish and self absorbed? Its open to interpretation. As I said to the Boston Globe back in February: Of course, influence can’t be reliably reduced to a single measure any more than relevancy can. […]

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