Do I Need To Have Some Klout?

Whoa! What was that? I am sure I just saw an important guy with no clothes on walking down my street! Does no one else see him? Really? But, he’s naked! Butt naked!

As a part-time writer, a long way from making any kind of living from it, I am finding the process of building a following and sales for my first novel pretty challenging. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and all the other social worlds I am supposed to become a master of eat up time like a ravenous gannet. A lot of that time is spent trying to understand how best to use them and reading masses of tips from helpful fellow users.

Just when I thought it was becoming safe to go online again, along comes another social media service to understand, master and utilise – Klout. I signed up for this service not knowing what it was, but now that I have…whoa! There he is again – you see him now, right? THE NAKED GUY!

For those of you who have not seen Klout, or even heard of it, it is marketed as a way of measuring how much ‘influence’ you have online. It strikes me as being based on a management analysis tool – a sort of Johari Window perhaps. You are given a score that rates your online ‘influence’, and you can raise your score by Tweeting more often, Tweeting in particular ways, by writing blogs, using keywords etc, etc. The nearer your score to 100, the nearer to unbearably smug you can be!

I am sorry, I raise my hat to the marketing genius(es) who thought this up, but I don’t think I should be playing along. I am pretty sure I should be writing novels and blogs, not spending time stroking (or denting!) my ego by pretending that a Klout score matters. I don’t think I want or need a score representing my online influence. In fact, what does that really mean anyway? I do want people to read my books and enjoy them (I clearly don’t need this of course, but it would be nice all the same). For this to happen, I need to write well, and then convince lots of people that I write well enough for them to buy my books.

I can’t help but have a nagging suspicion that Klout is far less about being social than it is about proving who’s best and pandering to, and playing upon, natural insecurities we all have. You may, of course, vehemently disagree. If you do, then fair enough. Perhaps I have missed something and need enlightening? If so, please help me blow away the smoke and take down the mirrors.

I can still see him though…the naked guy….

About Peter

Peter Carroll is a Scotsman, author, musician and wildlife enthusiast.
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6 Responses to Do I Need To Have Some Klout?

  1. Steve Wilson says:

    You’re spot on Peter. All of these these things (Klout, Empire Avenue, etc) don’t really measure your influence, they simply measure whatever parameter it is that they measure, and that’s it! When I was on Empire Avenue (before deleting my account to get my life back!), I drastically increased my ‘share price’ simply by opening accounts on the Social Media sites that it measured. No influence, simply playing the game.

    Likewise with Klout; okay, it tries to measure influence but it has no way of knowing how effective that influence is. You may be a user with 100K followers on Twitter and get a higher Klout score because of, say, a lot of @replies, but how does it know they’re not all from bots? How does it know 99.5K of those followers aren’t bots (IE. a high score for influence when you actually have no influence)?

    I kind of understand why they create these things, which is credible, but the main effect, unfortunately, is simply to change people’s behaviour into trying to increase their false scores rather than increase their real influence. So, for example, it leads to people desperately asking for new followers, or sending multiple tweets about “vote for me here” or “give me a +k on such and such subject” instead of, you know, just being social.

    And let’s not forgot the most important fact in all of this; that the primary motivation driving EVERY such site is just a bunch of clever guys all trying to be the next internet billionaires!

    • PeteC says:

      Thanks Steve, first comment and you appear to be confirming what I suspected. I particularly agree with your third and fourth paragraphs. In a previous life as a manager, I used to regularly get sent on training courses that featured all manner of models for how to think and act. I always thought they were little more than clever ways of stating the bleeding obvious, but the cleverst thing of all was that someone, somewhere, was creaming in the cash as a result! I still say fair play to them, and if some people see value in it and want to take part, then who am I to stop them? Pretty sure I can find better things to do with my own time though!

  2. Pete Denton says:

    I must admit that I hadn’t heard of Klout. Thanks to your post when I do start to hear about it I can just ignore it and continue with my life!


  3. MT Nickerson says:

    Klout had me enthralled for a month or so until I realized how ridiculous it is and how it does not reflect true influence. It is a time-suck that is best to ignore. Interact with folks on twitter, on your blog, wherever else you have a presence and forget about some made up score. I feel better having deleted my account.

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