“If you know your enemies, and you know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles...”
--Sun Tzu, as translated by Wikiquote
A strange thing happened yesterday. I got an email telling me that my Klout score had improved.
This was interesting for two reasons. The first, obviously, was the usual--who doesn’t want to have more Klout? But the second was more intriguing; I’d thought I’d turned Klout off! I’d blocked it on my Facebook account, and I’m not on Twitter... I mean, I get that they track everyone whether the person wants them to or not, but still, shouldn’t my Klout score be something approaching zero?
Well, I’ll give these Klout people one thing: they know how to create a mystery. As I was riding home yesterday on the train, the only thing I could think about was finding out what my new Klout score was.
My first thought was that they’d somehow linked my account to my blog, and that the recent uptick in traffic over there was making me somehow more influential. I write a lot about triathlon on the blog--not so much tips as just my personal experience with the sport and some of the specific intervals sets that I’m doing week-to-week--and I post a lot of what I write over at the (excellent) Google+ Triathlon Community. Maybe that was driving the uptick. On top of which, I think the entire geek-o-sphere must’ve played the D&D Solo Adventure I wrote for my gaming group last year and then archived on the front page of my blog, and the series of posts I wrote about the Top Ten Forgotten Realms Books last year also gets a Hell of a lot of traffic every week. For whatever reason, my D&D posts seem to be favorites of Google’s search engine’s methodology. Which is fine; it’s driving whatever ad revenue my blog is generating.
None of which means that Klout is important. In fact, it means quite the reverse. Really, what’s happening here is that Klout is trying to sell me on their services based entirely on the influence of things that I have already written.
Well. This is why I disabled Klout in the first place.
But it’s interesting, right? So I started doing some research.
The best article I found was this one from Wired Magazine. It basically says, yes, unfortunately your Klout score does matter. For marketing folks especially, it’s hard to get hired without a decent Klout score, but even for the rest of us, Klout is a good way to force change on the way that Corporate America treats us. Which is to say that when you check into a hotel, for example, the hotel staff may well check your Klout score ahead of your arrival, especially if the hotel is a high end service provider like a Las Vegas casino or a Bed and Breakfast on the Jersey Shore. And if your score is above, say, 65, they might even upgrade your room without your asking... or even noticing. Because they’re going to realize that your opinion matters. You tweet to your 10,000 followers about how much they suck, and that’s going to hurt. It’s going to cost them real dollars. But if you walk away happy—and tweet about it—well, that’s them making money. And all it cost them was a room upgrade.
So that’s cool, right? I mean, I’ve got a blog, and yeah, it’s not like the thing gets a million hits a day or anything, but it’s my platform, and I certainly use it. But then I started reading about Klout’s methodology, and it turns out that, no, Blogger doesn’t count. Neither do WordPress or any of the other big blogging websites. You can connect your Blogger account, and Klout would like to be able to integrate the account’s reach into your score, but as of now, they’re not exactly sure how to do that. And they’re not going to fully integrate blogging networks until they’re sure that they have the methodology exactly right. Because, of course, Klout is a highly scientific organization.
As of now, Klout only ranks your clout in terms of five key social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. Probably in that order. They’ve also recently integrated Yammer, but those first five are the biggies, and Twitter seems to be the biggest of the bigs. I’m personally only on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, and when I looked, I realized that I hadn’t even linked my LinkedIn account to my Klout account, and Klout hadn’t somehow made the link for me. They had, however, integrated my Google+ account—but not my Blogger or YouTube accounts, which also run using my global Google ID—and I have no idea whether they were pulling data from Facebook or not considering that I’d used FB’s privacy settings to block Klout six months ago. It’s not that I hate Klout or anything, it’s just that their Facebook app is super-aggressive—and annoying as Hell—and the only reason I’m on Facebook at all is that it’s a convenient way to keep up with my classmates, both from high school and from the Academy. What I don’t need is a bunch of crap that gets in the way of my friends’ cat-videos.
Anyway, it turns out that my Klout score is (was) only 39, that the email I got was telling me that my score had risen one measly point, from 38, and that when I looked at my six-month performance report, I’ve been between 38 and 42 very consistently for quite a long time. And as it happens, 40 is the median score on Klout, so really, bottom line, that email was NOT news. My Klout score had gone up, but it certainly hadn’t broken out of the range of my recent performance, and if I’d known that, well, none of this would’ve happened.
But it got me thinking.
So yesterday I linked in my LinkedIn account, unblocked Klout at Facebook, and joined Twitter, and as of this writing, my Klout is up to 40, equaling the statistical median of all Klout users everywhere. Awesome. That said, I’m pretty sure that this one-point jump is based solely on adding in my LinkedIn account, so I’ll be interested in seeing what, if any, effect allowing Klout access to my Facebook account will have. And I suppose I need to start Tweeting people.
The only problem with all of this is that I feel like this Klout thing is the kind of thing that can make a person crazy. I mean, Twitter especially is like high school all over again, only worse. If the prettiest girl in school walks in with a new pair of shoes, it’s not enough that I buy those same shoes, too. No, with Twitter I now have to take a picture of that girl’s shoes—on her feet!—and put it up on my refrigerator on the off-chance that she’ll wander through my house and see it there. And start a conversation with me.
Argh! I’m telling you right now, that way lies madness.