According to Klout, my influence varies from day to day. The Klout search engines look at interactions through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ , LinkedIn, Foursquare Blogger and WordPress, and about a half-dozen other micro-blogging networks. Lately, I’ve been spending more time blogging than social networking and the result is that my Klout “influence” is falling. My all-time high is score is 100, and today it’s a lowly 26. Having not posted anything on this blog for around two years, I’ve been following a number of blogging challenges through January, and according to WordPress stats, this has increased my average of 1 view per day to 30 between 1 January and today. So which is true? If I believe Klout to be a measure of my online worth, my virtual heart would have descended to the soles of my cyber-boots. If I believe WordPress, I would be approaching e-Nirvana.
Klout claims that you will discover how you influence your networks, share and grow your passions and earn recognition for your influence. It’s very glossy and there is some impressive-looking about how to promote yourself. If your Klout rises, you get perks. This site does two things – it monitors the networks, and applies a score, or a rating, if you will, based on the number of interactions you have, e.g. shares, clicks, likes, favourites and so on, and also allows members to “vote” each other up on a set number of topics – the more influence you gain, the more topics you can have to be voted on. The maximum score is 100. As of today, the Klout home page shows that Mr Obama enjoys a score of 99.
I’m not that worried about promoting myself, but I do like to test numbers and mess about on the internet. A little while ago, I engaged in an experiment with an acquaintance of mine – he is a professional who wishes to promote himself online for business reasons. Lots of people do. I’ve got my own Facebook and Twitter accounts, and the three dogs in residence at Baskerville Manor at the time also had their own profiles on both networks. Anyway, one wet Saturday morning when I really had nothing better to do than fool about with my laptop I decided to amuse myself by seeing how far I could push this person’s Klout score. Each dog got signed up to Klout, and together we voted up our subject on every topic he had listed. At about 8:00 am, his score was 5. The in-site voting spree netted him another 30. Next step was to find him on Facebook and engage in a round of likes, shares and comments on his latest five posts – score: 20. So by around 10:00 am, he had a Klout rating of 55. Rounds 2 and 3 followed on Twitter and LinkedIn – by noon he had reached the dizzy height of 93 Following with some comments and likes on his WordPress blog, the meter twitched a little higher, finally settling at 98. Meanwhile, my dogs had begun to complain that their email inboxes and their Twitter feeds were overflowing with Klout notifications. Result of the experiment? The rating mechanism seems to have a bias for in-site scoring, and the search engine seems to be more sensitive to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn than to WordPress. The drop in my Klout mentioned above seems to support this.
Did the Klout score do anything to improve my subject’s profile? Not appreciably, he tells me. Today, without the support of me and my canine assistants, his Klout score is back to 11. Even with this drastic reduction in his Klout, business goes on as usual. Like me, he was not terribly thrilled about the promised perks – when they materialised in our respective dashboards, they turned out to be special offers for movie tickets (only usable if you are in America), coffee vouchers (ditto), and … roll of drums.. a breast pump. As the ship called motherhood has sailed far past my personal horizon, I’m just a tad underwhelmed.
The moral of this story? My experiment demonstrate that I was rather good at influencing my test subject’s Klout, but that there was no appreciable benefit to me, him, or mankind in general. So, while you think about whether or not you are good at influencing other people, consider the context, then ask yourself – does it really matter?