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Klout: Is this really what it’s all about?

I’m not going to lie–I’m a stickler for numbers. And I don’t mean in a “what is 7 times 9” kinda way (because I totally can’t do that), but I mean in a statistical reporting, where did that come from kind of way. You see, I was blessed with a brain and background for science which means (much to the chagrin of my husband) I’m always asking “WHY?” and then after I ask why, I want to see the statistical support to back up the answer.

This mentality can make you crazy on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and Klout where bigger numbers mean, well, you’re totally awesome. Couple that with a scientific mind who dwells on numbers and it’s hard. No, I mean insanely hard not to get caught up in the fact that this really isn’t what social networking is all about.

Last week, I participated in a conference call for an organization doing really amazing things to help people across the world. They brought me in as the marketing person, so immediately I started asking questions like, “How many subscribers are on your newsletters and feeds?” and “How are you increasing your Facebook and Twitter numbers?” Then, something odd happened–they all laughed. Although they all agreed these were important, they also agreed that their number one goal wasn’t just to increase their numbers, it was to assist the people already on board, and then grow from there.

The director went on to tell me a story about a man I’ll call Jim.

Jim was at the lowest point in his life and although he didn’t have the skills, this organization brought him on and trained him to do what he needed to do. They empowered him, they supported him and more than that they gave him direction again–probably something that literally saved his life.

You see, Jim didn’t look good on paper and his “numbers” weren’t impressive. However, in the end he has helped out this organization more than they have helped him–ten-fold I think was what the director said. He also said, “Jackie, if we ever only helped this one person like this, then I would be okay with that…even without growing our Twitter or Facebook numbers.”

Wow.

It just so happened that the very same day I saw an article link fly across Twitter: 4 Keys to Increasing Your Klout Score by Trey Pennington. In the article, Pennington lists points like “stay away from people who aren’t important” (read: low Klout scores). He also says “get more people to appear to pay attention to you than you’re paying attention to” where he explains that you should follow many people on Twitter and then after a few weeks, unfollow them. That way you have more followers than you are following, therefore making you look more important.

Wait.A.Minute.

Something doesn’t seem right here. Although Pennington does end his article by saying, “None of the suggestions mentioned above has anything to do with real influence,” I think the real damage was already done. I’m not disputing that his tips wouldn’t work. However, I am saying, Should it really be this way? Maybe I’m naïve, an idealist…but it just doesn’t feel right.

If I followed some of Pennington’s points, I would lose some of the closest friends I now have–on and offline. Additionally, many of these people with seemingly low scores or little influence have either turned into business deals or networked into business deals. On top of that? The organization I mentioned earlier never would’ve given Jim a second thought and lost an extremely mutually beneficial relationship.

I’m not a social networking expert–I’ve never claimed to be. However, I know enough to realize that social + networking was never supposed to be just about the numbers…even for someone like me.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.40momsclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/NewProfilePicBW2Smaller.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]About the Author

Jacqueline Wilson is a wife, mother, published author, freelance writer and yes, a marketer. When she’s not calculating her Klout score or obsessing over her Twitter and blog followers, she writes here, on 40 Moms Club, or on her daily parenting humor blog, WritRams.com: Writer Ramblings on Parenting Imperfectly. Follow her on Twitter as @WritRams. [/author_info]

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Along with being a contributor to PrimeParentsClub.com, Jacqueline Wilson is: Appalachia Advocate~Supporter of Women~Writer~Accidental Pit Bull Advocate. Founder and executive director of Monkey Do Project and co-author of 50 Shades of Frayed: What Happens When 'I Do' Becomes 'Not Tonight': A Humorous Mompilation.

6 Comments

  1. 40MomsClub

    February 16, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Klout: Is this really what it’s all about? http://www.40momsclub.com/2011/02/15/klo… #klout #socialnetworking #numbers #blogging

  2. Trey Pennington

    February 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    By the way, another thing I take “heat” for is my real admonition about following back on Twitter: I practice and I preach, “Follow EVERY person back who is following you on Twitter.” People have called me crazy, foolish, etc. and have attempted to make a case for only following people who “add value.” I have attacked head-on the paucity of a worldview that would make it acceptable to pre-judge another human being’s future value.

    Now, the sad thing is, and this addresses your question: IF you really want to increase your Klout score, you CAN increase your Klout score by getting “important” (read, as I stated, high Klout score) people to talk about you, by staying away from “unimportant” (read, as I specifically stated, low Klout score) people, by having WAY more followers than followings, and be re-amplifying (a word a made up to highlight the absurdity of the concept) tweets that you know are already popular.

    My twitter address is http://twitter.com/treypennington in case you want to see if I practice following every real person back or not. You can also see some of the comments and discussion about the blog post you reference.

    Again, thank you very much for taking the time to notice and highlight my post. I am honored and grateful to you.

  3. Trey Pennington

    February 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you for taking note of my post and offense at the “four keys.”

    You are highlighting the precise point of the post: it is absurd to have a goal to increase your Klout score (or any other ARBITRARY measure of influence). I wrote it that way I did because people ARE enamored with Klout, they’re getting massive media coverage, and I imagine there are already training courses and membership sites out there already telling people how to increase their score.

    Over and over and over and over and over again I repeat Zig Ziglar’s admonition, “You can have everything in life you want if you’ll help enough other people get what they want.” Helping other people is what matters.

    I’ve received enough feedback on the piece to feel assured that I made the point about the absurdity of seeking to increase one’s Klout score. The multitude of tweets, comments on my blog, and comments on Mack Collier’s blog, confirm that people are getting the point of the post. I’m immensely grateful.

    Would you please revisit my blog again to re-read the post from beginning to end, and if you have time, some of the comments? I’m hoping that you will also see that I am mocking those concept of paying attention to one’s Klout score, or any other ARBITRARY measure of influence and am, instead, repeating what I’ve said hundreds of times in print and in speeches, “If you’ll just help enough other people get want, you’ll have all the influence you’ll need.”

    Also, please note that I said point-blank, “DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR KLOUT SCORE.”

    Even though your post doesn’t quite present what I said, I am also immensely grateful that you are also highlighting the offensiveness of behaving online in such a way to increase one’s own “influence.” For that, I thank you.