Sorry, but I need more important friends (or, how I learned to stop worrying about my Klout score)

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Sorry, Twitter friends, but I need to network with more important people. It’s not that I don’t like you. Really. You’ve all been so fun and informative. Unfortunately, your Klout scores are dragging me down.

Apparently, the new algorithm changes on Klout take into account not only what I do in my social networks, but what you do as well. And, frankly, you guys just aren’t keeping up. So instead, I’ve decided to follow Justin Beiber and Oprah. The plan is to tweet smarmy things to them all day, until one of them finally retweets me.

Just kidding.

Over the past month, though, I’ve been monitoring my Klout score and how it relates to certain of my behaviors. My verdict? Klout continues to be mind-bogglingly bad. And if you’re still paying attention to your score, you need a life.

Twitter was ablaze yesterday with complaints about the new algorithm. Seems folks were unhappy that their scores dropped — in some cases significantly — after the change. Mine dropped 10 points. Why? Well, from what I can tell, several of my friends “lost influence.” In addition, several people are no longer included in my “immediate influence network.” Okay…

Let’s get to what’s messed up about this:

Among those no longer in my immediate influence network? My brother, a coworker who sits five steps away from me and a client. I dare say I have at least some influence with those folks. At the very least I can influence my coworker with a spitball to the head, or my brother by passing the rolls over dinner.

Among topics I’m influential about? Media, Quinoa, Bacon, Social Media, Puppies, Los Angeles Lakers. Admittedly, I talk often about media and social media. Quinoa makes the list because I once asked a Twitter acquaintance what it was. We had some back and forth. Then I received a few +Ks as a joke. The Lakers? They were a topic of discussion one night with a friend. Frankly, I don’t find myself “influential” in any of these topics. Or any topic. Then again, influence is not my goal on Twitter.

And that brings me to the point of all this:
If you use Twitter to exert or gain influence, please leave.

I can already hear the community managers and workplace social media experts now: “But Dan, that’s what we do for a living. How are we supposed to *insert random goal* for our brand lol?”

I understand where you’re coming from. You’re just wrong.

Using social media to gain influence (or, better yet, get a number that supposedly correlates to influence) is like boiling water in a toaster. Besides the fact that you’re using the wrong tool for the job, it’s dangerous.

Social media’s intent (outside of making money for the services themselves) is to attract folks who want to connect with other folks. And of course businesses want to be where the people are, so social media experts were invented to get money from businesses and teach them how to ruin social media services in order to influence customers. Or potential customers. Or something. Jury’s out on that still.

Those social media experts have to prove their expertise somehow. And proving that to businesspeople who are used to relying on numbers can be difficult. Used to be that you could brag about the number of Twitter followers you had. But as I showed in this post, those numbers are meaningless, even for Twitter rock stars like Chris Brogan. When Klout came along, it offered the promise of a grading system to prove, definitively, who is the biggest deebag on Twitter. I mean, who is the most powerful Twitterer of them all. (In case you were wondering, it’s Justin Bieber, who has a perfect score of 100).

The problem with Klout is that it isn’t really clear what it’s measuring or why it considers those metrics important. Worse than that, it’s wrong. I know nothing about quinoa, and yet I’m the second-most influential person in the Klout-o-sphere on the topic. I’m not even kidding.

Chris Brogan has a Klout score higher than that of either Pepsi or Microsoft. Does that make sense?

After a month of paying attention, I’m ready to walk away from Klout, other than perhaps to throw down some +K for funsies every once in awhile. Because the experiment taught me something really important: I’m not on Twitter to be important and I’m not important because I’m on Twitter. I’m just there. And I don’t need a number to validate the importance of my friends, either. Despite what Klout says, their worth to me is beyond measure.

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