Ok, I confess.
Lately, the first thing I’ve been doing when I wake up is check my Klout score. (Yes, I sleep with my iPhone within reach.)
All was well and good while it was steadily climbing. Whatever I was doing was working and Klout felt like a simple way to quantify the positive feedback.
I am of two minds about Klout.
On the one hand, I am sympathetic to the view that Klout measures something, but that something doesn’t bear much resemblance to what we call influence in the offline world. Many influential people don’t even participate actively online using Klout or Twitter which is a foundational part of the Klout score. And some of the new social media services that Klout is tracking – Instagram, as an example – are so new and hip they are only available to users with iPhones. I know Apple is influential, but that’s just silly.
On the other hand, Klout, I feel, is not to be ignored. I say this not because I believe it is “the standard for influence” as its tag line says, but because Klout has invented a new measurement of one’s ability to drive online behaviour that increasingly people are referencing as an indicator of online credibility. Other scoring schemes will follow suit and make themselves just as impossible to ignore. Whether or not Klout accurately tracks influence, it tracks something – let’s call it Klout – and that something is increasingly important to have.
I am writing this post now because, seemingly out of the blue, my Klout score started to fall about a week ago. I wasn’t sure what was happening or why. Each day, I’d wake up and pry my sleep-filled eyes open looking for my score – hoping I would see bottom. Hoping the chute would open soon. Hoping my previous day’s engagements would be the first step back in the direction of ascent. But so far, no such luck.
I’ve been through the ups and downs of Klout before. One blog post or Tweet takes off and gets lots of traffic and my Klout score spikes. Or, heaven forbid, I take a vacation and slow down my social media activity and Klout decides I am therefore less influential during that period. I get that Klout is real time and that we are operating in ten minute news cycles, but do influence and clout really work that way? It takes time and hard work and good relationships to earn credibility. Similarly, this accumulated value doesn’t typically disappear overnight.
Klout is to influence what a barometer is to the weather. It’s a real time indicator of what’s happening out there and what’s immediately ahead, but it doesn’t tell us much about longer term trends or important changes in macro patterns. Air pressure measurements really don’t have much meaning outside the immediate time frame in which they are taken.
That’s what is so confusing about my bottomless Klout score. It was rising steadily, incrementally for some time and this I took as a confirmation that I was sustainably building trust and credibility on some level. Anecdotally, I’ve been noticing more high-quality Twitter followers and proportionally less follow-back gamers, spammers and bots. I’ve been receiving unsolicited shout outs and compliments for content curation from followers. I’ve even been seeing good growth in my Empire Avenue share price (http://empireavenue.com/JAYPALTER) as my Twitter followers headed over to but some stock in me.
All the while, I’ve acquired new consulting clients and have been engaged with those projects instead of obsessing on my Klout score (despite appearances to the contrary). Sure, this could be a factor contributing to my falling Klout barometer, but isn’t that just a testament to Klout’s limitations? Coincident with my gaining traction and new engagements as a social media consultant, my influence score falls. Seems like an inverse relationship to me.
In the end, Klout is a product. First and foremost, it’s designed to engage and captivate us. When we take online actions, our score needs to rise fast enough to be intriguing, but slow enough to reflect the weightiness of what it purports to measure.
In the back of mind, though, I can’t help but wonder whether or not writing an article about my Klout score will put a floor under my plummeting score. After all, there’s no accounting for the weather.