I’ve been avoiding to blog for a while due to being in the middle of building a house but Holden Page influenced me to write this piece. No he doesn’t have a higher Klout score than I, nor is he as valuable as I am in Empire Avenue but I do hold a lot of respect for Holden as a friend and peer of the Internets. I met Holden many years ago literally before he had any social media influence, I just happen to find him when he had some Windows Mobile questions on Twitter and I responded with answers. Holden has recently written a few pieces about influence tools on the net and how you should not care about them. I mentioned the little story of me meeting Holden into this because at the time he would have had a Klout score of something like 15 if Klout would have existed back then. Though I agree that these systems are by no way perfect, I wanted to share my personal view of them.
I like Klout and use it often. I like seeing a quick view of a person, what they like and what style Klout puts them in. I also respect the number system and algorithm that they have put in place. Does it influence who I follow and who I don’t, that answer is somewhat complex but I’ll say sometimes. Klout is a tool, like any tool you need to understand what the tool is good for and what it is not designed to be. Klout tries to determine a person’s style, what they talk about, who they talk to and their response rate and potential audience width is. All of this comes up to a general score which is what many refer to one’s influence score.
The downside of Klout is that it can be gamed whether consciously or subconsciously. Numbers are motivating factors to do better and we see that evidence throughout the internet and in business. I’m a strong believer in building your Personal Brand but systems like Klout can make you run your brand much more like a company than a person. What I mean by that is that it scores your conversion ratio no different than how you measure sales effectiveness. To increase the number of sales there are a couple of things you could do. Firstly, you could increase your conversion ratio by improving your sales page, reducing your prices, improving your product, etc. Alternatively, you could work the numbers game and increase your traffic – you already know that 500 visitors will give you five sales/conversions so if you can get 1000 visitors to your site, you should generate ten sales/conversions (assuming that the quality of the traffic is equal to or better than that which you are already receiving).
Sales is always a numbers game as long as you have developed the skills to compete. But sales don’t equal the best product, nor does a high Klout score. Some high scorers are because they are celebrity or very well known to an wide enough niche-audience. Others literally add keywords that are known to be widely searched or retweeted such as FREE or Lists of something. Some pump out a lot of volume and follow everyone in hopes for auto-followers. It is a numbers game in that the more you do, the closer you get to the “gold ring”. The point of this article is to be honest that if your really are in it for winning the game and not so much on being you, like any other marketing, it takes a lot of work to properly tweak a campaign for maximum effectiveness.
But the other issue I have with these systems is that they measure a rather one dimension of a person. They measure the relentless hours spent on social networking but not the physical stuff like your score of value at meet-ups, at work and in life in general. The also are general to a generic audience and not really to the relevancy of the person looking at your score.
I think EVERYTHING is a numbers game but i like to think of my brand of me to be a little more personal. The product quality of you and the people you follow should be under authentic product creation and not just Internet marketing tricks. People should not strive to be “SEO friendly” just to be indexed higher in a scoring system. Influence is really about people and changing the behavior of people. In general, we don’t want to change the behavior of people, we want to help each other or collaborate in some way by sharing information that hopefully isn’t wasting anyone’s time. ANYONE can be that person even if they have nothing that measures their Klout well. It is great to belong to a social circle where people can support one another and in this great world of digital collaboration, we are there for one another.
Your personal brand is only a numbers game if you allow it to be…keep you real, don’t get too caught up in the game where your brand has now been severely influenced and altered by just an algorithmic scoring game. I personally want to provide people a quality, accurate, and real opinion of me and my interests which at this moment equates to a Klout score of 61 somehow. You don’t need a million followers or a Klout score of 99 to justify your value online, just be you while I’ll be me and hopefully we will get to know each other better without needing a system to influence the opportunity.