For the Klout doubters

For those of us who love social networking, Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr or whatever is your preference, our love is always tempered by frustration with some of the more commonly-used services that dip into our chose spheres. Foursquare check-ins, GetGlue check-ins, petition announcements…. Klout scores.

And as if that weren’t enough, now that Klout has changed its metrics in a way that seems to have dropped just about every person’s score that bothers to look, our social streams are filled with angry missives about the inefficacy of Klout and anyway, how they suck.

For those people who are using social networking as a means of entertainment, this all must seem like a waste of time. And for people who use social networks as a means of entertainment, it is a waste of time. But what about the rest of you?

Discussing whether or not Klout’s influence scores are relevant or accurate ignores the fact that what matters is the scoring itself. If Klout doesn’t fill that void, other services will, because your influence is important and ranking is how humans do things. Popularity contests may be annoying, but they didn’t spring unbidden from the Earth. People want to know who other people are following.

Yes, its a game. Yes, its another in a seemingly endless stream of very similar games – Google ranking, Technorati, Klout. Yes, the rules have changed. And if you’re trying to promote your work or your employer, no, you cannot ignore it.

I find it somewhat amusing to read people’s sphincter-winking complaints about how Klout ruined their score and anyway, Klout is meaningless. Contradict, much? (see #FirstWorldProblems for additional details) Equally funny are the complaints that, well, Klout thinks I’m influential in coffee, but I’ve never talked about coffee.

Klout is among other things a keyword analyzer. You may not have talked about coffee as a matter relevant to your work, but if you constantly complain about the local coffee shop or check-in to Starbucks on Foursquare? Klout figured it out. You may not be an expert on religion, but if you’re constantly saying “holy shit,” “Jesus Christ” and “God damn,” what did you think would happen? The truth is: your work is unfocused and scattershot. You’re not using keywords that reinforce your brand. You’re probably not using hashtags except as Twitter in-jokes.

And if none of that is relevant to how you chose to be perceived on the Internet, then don’t worry about it. But the people I know who are focusing on topics and concentrating on targeted content don’t seem to have that problem at all. I know because I’m playing the game and yes, I’m watching.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.