Klout has changed the way I think about my life online. It’s an online app that measures (or tries to measure) your social influence on a scale from 1 to 100. You might want to give it a look, or you might want to shrug and move on to the next post. They’re both valid responses.
Still with me? There’s been much discussion about how Klout works, whether it works, whether we should pay any attention to it even if it does, why it spells doom for all that is good in the world, and why the company is about to go bankrupt. Or not. All I’m going to talk about here is how my own Klout score has influenced me.
First, I signed up and discovered I had a score of 10. Ten isn’t good. Klout looks at your data on various networks (with your permission). In my case, my score was based on my participation on Facebook and Twitter. At the time, I was ignoring Twitter completely, and I was happily conversing on Facebook with a circle of people I actually know in real life. I also told Klout about LinkedIn, where I’d been fairly active in discussions, but that must not be the sort of activity that Klout measures. To this day, LinkedIn has made no contribution to my Klout score.
Next I went on a crusade to increase the number of people following me on Twitter. I’ll cover that effort in another post, but the short version is that within a month I had jumped from about 80 followers to a thousand, and my Klout score had risen to over 50. Fifty is pretty good, especially since I wasn’t producing noteworthy tweets. I was barely tweeting at all. The steady climb of my score was apparently based only on my increasing number of followers.
The dark side of all this — and I forgive you if you can only see the dark side — is that I was successfully gaming the system. It wasn’t even hard. It didn’t take smarts or know-how or talent, just time and a high tolerance for tedium.
But I see another side. I learned a lot.
For one thing, I finally spent some time on Twitter. Most of it was genuinely dreary. Then I tweeted that some people from my writing club would be appearing at an author fair and a local author tweeted back. I got curious and followed a link in her profile. What the heck! She used to act, and she had voiced my favorite character in an anime show my daughter and I used to watch years ago. I never made it to the fair, but Ryoko tweeted that she was sorry she missed me. Cool! Maybe there’s some hope for Twitter after all. You can make connections there, though perhaps you need more than Twitter to maintain them.
I’ve also learned about hashtags and lists and followers. That last one, followers, was a bit of a surprise. You don’t need to follow someone to read their tweets, and, of course, they don’t need to follow you to read yours. So what is the significance of followers? Other than to raise your Klout score? I don’t know. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. But just realizing that I don’t know is worth something.
I also found myself looking at Facebook differently. I realized that if I wanted to use it to boost my Klout, then I’d need more shares. I looked at my feed. Sure some of my friends liked my photo of the strange plant growing out of my compost bin, but that’s hardly the sort of thing they’d be likely to share with their friends. Did I need to start posting other things? What?
What I like to read on Facebook is the real stuff. Posts from people I know about their own lives. Sometimes I enjoy a post a friend shares about an issue that’s important to them though I prefer that they express their own opinion with the post. I’m a whole lot less interested in cute, clever, amazing, shocking or helpful information that they didn’t generate, just decided to pass along. You know, all that stuff that gets thousands of shares. A little of that goes a very long way. Very, very.
If I want to boost my Facebook account’s contribution to my Klout score, then I either need to begin living an amazing life that hordes want to watch (ain’t gonna happen), or I’ve got to piggy-back on someone else’s amazingness by posting their shocking news, adorable photos, and you-won’t-believe-what-happens-when videos. I’ve decided to let my Facebook account be. To paraphrase Emerson, my Facebook is for itself, not for a spectacle.
But the most important lesson I’ve taken from all this so far is that doing this well — and by “this” I mean building an author platform using social media — is much more than just filling the world with cat videos. Klout has provoked me into giving some hard thought to sticky questions. I’ll be doing a lot more strategic planning in the future, narrowing my focus on just a few carefully chosen social media outlets, thinking a lot about what I hope to achieve on each one, and planning how they’ll all work together.