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Does Klout Measure Clout? The Problem With Social Influence (Part 2)

Is our social influence based on broadcasting, or relationship?

“Social” Mediums are Relational

Last week, we looked at how Klout and other online influence measurements work, and how one can quantitatively measure a qualitative question. President Obama has a great deal of influence with a Klout score of 98/100.  According to this -and other online platforms- he has a great deal of influence in social mediums. Is this true? Undoubtedly. Klout has even added “Real-World Influence” into scores, bringing the offline life into greater focus as it pertains to influence.

So what’s the problem then?

The downfall of these applications is that they measure broadcasting, not relating. 

At least that’s what I’ve discovered in my monitoring Klout, specifically. What it tracks on: Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+- likes and 1+’s, comments, shares; Twitter- retweets, and mentions (but not favorites, an important one in my mind); etc. These are all measured attributes about what you receive from information/statuses that you post in your timeline or feed. What the algorithm processes is what your friends interact with that you post. But is that what relationships are about? Is that how influence works?

Do Social Influence Apps Measure “Relationship”?

So what’s missing, you ask? Your likes, comments, shares and engagement on other peoples posts, and the frequency of your activity; whether they like said comments, or maintain a dialogue because of your comments or behavior; any messages that happen between you and others that are social, but may not be public (Facebook messages); anything shared that you influenced, without a direct link to your source; how often your content may be read or consumed but not publicly recognized, etc. Some of this can’t be tracked, others can. And the latter is the point:

The scoring rubric is not social, its consumptive. It’s what “influence” you have by broadcasting, not relating.

The time you spend listening, engaging with others, and practicing a relational stance to others is not part of the scoring. And this is the point of social: it has brought relationship back into the marketplace. Voice is now significant, and equal, between buyer and seller. Listening is an important component, where two parties are interacting with one another.  Barack Obama has a great score because he’s broadcasting a message -in a relational forum, in a relational voice- that is being virally re-broadcast. The President isn’t talking to us, he’s delivering a speech or talk at the coffee table. But he’s not listening or engaging in the same kind of relationship that social mediums exist for. To some degree, his actual social influence via Klout should be 200/100, given all the discussion that goes on about him that he doesn’t start! But in his ability to engage, due largely to the size of his following and constraints of being able to engage, he’s probably about a 20/100.

Klout is Good Enough To Be DangerousSocial influence is based on trust. Image source: The Daily Tweak.

I’ve been sucked into my Klout score in the past. It’s easy to do; the number is attractive to make it easy to say whether I”m doing “good” or “bad”. But, it only accurately reflects how people are engaged with what I produce. Without measuring how I well I initiate with others on their content, or engage with their initiation, the number is only a small part of what social media is about. Focusing on these numbers, and even gaming the system, only creates a means to an end that serves ourselves.

Our real focus should be not on our Klout score, though that might give us an indication of a certain type of social influence: we can gauge how well we share information that others will engage in. Nor should it be on the relationship, per se. Although we need to be mindful of it, the relationship is not the point. The people are the point.

If you’re an accountant, your job is to help people with their finances. If you’re a doctor, you’re in business to keep people healthy. Making money is a byproduct of that. Somewhere along the line our work became just a way to make a living, and we used our customers to that end. ~Ken Mueller, of Inkling Media.

You are in a business or organization that you hopefully feel/think offers something of great value to others. Your focus is on those others who would benefit from that which you have participated in creating. They want to know that, and why it is you came  up with it: your story.

People relate with other people, not organizations. There’s always someone on the other side of the screen, yes?

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