The other day, someone bought 200 shares of me. I was flattered, but would’ve been even more excited had it been real money. Still, the virtual game that measures your influence, Empire Avenue, had shown that in my brief period of time on it, my shares were going up and up. Mind you, I’m not really sure what the algorithm was for this other than the fact that I’d participated in several social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, all while doing a blog post.
Hey, driving up your simulated shares is hard work.
Meanwhile, I noticed that my Klout score was similarly going up and up. Normally, I would be very excited by this, except for a few things.
There are people in my industry who I look up to who I can’t imagine having less real “clout” than me yet have less Klout than me. I’ve enjoyed reading Bart Cleveland for years as an AdAge columnist along with his work at McKee Wallwork Cleveland. I’ve admired the work of David Oakley at BooneOakley – frankly, I am looking up at them in a balanced world, not the other way around in a Klout world.
The second quibble I have is that while it says I am influential about social media and social entrepreneurship (OK, I’ve written about those plenty, I’ll buy that), Klout also says that I’m influential about, of all things, Groupon. I wrote about Groupon in one blog post in my life. Unless that was a hell of a post, I don’t see how that’s possible.
The third issue with Klout is that, unless I’m off, the system can be potentially gamed. If you like someone and are influenced by them, you can give them a “+K” to their Klout rating. Which sounds fine and good until I convince 20 of my closest friends to get together and Klout our scores into the stratosphere.
Meanwhile, over at PeerIndex, I have a similar issue with the influentials as I do with Klout. I’m a humble man and there are some peers that are ranking lower than me that just shouldn’t. My score is fine enough, trending higher and nothing to sneeze at. Kind of like my Klout score. At least here I can tell it’s from a combination of Audience, Authority and Activity. So I know which “A” to work on most.
What to believe? Who to believe? Are these tools helping or hurting?
I think I have the answer – you have to take these “measures of influence” for what they are – the best methods we currently have to measure social media capital that have room for improvement. Better than nothing? Yes. I would not ignore or blindly dismiss them. They do have meaning. They are a fair measure of activity, reach, etc. And like most other tools, they will probably be replaced by something more efficient and accurate, if these tools can’t tweek themselves fast enough.
But don’t get so wrapped up in your score that you can’t stop looking at your Klout, Empire Avenue share price and PeerIndex rating. I’m not proud to admit it, but I was doing just that when I first signed up. The worst thing you can do is say to yourself, “Oh heavens to Betsy, my reach isn’t far enough, what do I do?”
Breathe. Relax. These are algorithms that need work and will get better. Embrace the technological steps forward for what they are and realize there are slight imperfections – hey, Google’s algorithm isn’t perfect, but I’ll bet you still used it to search today, didn’t you?
Meanwhile, focus on what you CAN control:
Creating great content regularly and interacting with people who matter to you most on the channels where they “live.”
I believe when you concentrate on that consistently, the rest will hopefully take care of itself anyway when it comes to influence.
Of course, if this post influenced you and you’d like to throw a few “+K” to DanOnBranding or buy a bunch of shares….ah, never mind.