It’s All About Klout

26 10 2011

We live and die by numbers. Batting averages. Points For. Points Against. Earned Run Average. RBIs. Number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

“Wait, how did those get in there? I thought you were using a sports metaphor again.”

No, but it drew you in, right?

I know people who collect friends and followers as if they were baseball cards (there’s your sports reference). They obsess over how many they have. They lose sleep whenever someone unfriends or unfollows them. They wear their number as if it were a talisman, an indicator of their footprint on the social graph.

Turns out, though, that merely having a lot of friends is only a small part of the equation. What’s really important is our Klout. A Klout score ranges from zero to 100, with higher scores reflecting one’s overall influence online.

I can see it now. Future resumes will have a line for your Klout score, which may or may not be a good thing. I guess it kind of depends on the job. If you’re applying to be the social media manager for Pepsi, you better have a darn high one. If you’re an aspiring accountant, not so much.

Klout, which has calculated over 100 million scores, is based on our presence in many places, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, WordPress, Google+, FourSquare and others. It measures not just how many friends or followers we have, but how many times we post, how many times our content has been shared or retweeted, and how many comments it has generated.

In other words, it is a measure of our all-round performance in the social arena.

And you thought you were Lord and Mayor of Red Robin. Silly you. That would be me. I’ll call your Klout score and raise you 5.

I calculated my score again today and came in at 57. To be honest, I have no idea how that compares to any of my students or other readers (but if you comment on my FB status update or WordPress post on this, it might go up a tick or two). I am most active on FB, Instagram and WordPress, so my score is a reflection of all my pithy comments and breathtaking pictures. Maybe if I resumed tweeting like I once did (my 4000+ tweets are preserved for cyber posterity), I could rise a few more notches.

Perhaps some enterprising aftermarket inventor will develop a little LED sign for our cars so we can broadcast our Klout score as we zoom down the freeway. “Ooh, honey. There goes someone with a high Klout score. Maybe he’ll accept my friend request, and my score will go up. Hold my beer and watch this.”

Which means that Klout Envy will soon be the newest malady to afflict society, leaving the door open for other enterprising people to produce a Viagra-like cure for flaccidly low scores. It will be like SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but at the individual level. Singles bars and Match.com will soon have ways for people to announce their Klout score as they seek out significant others.

When I jumped online way back in the 80s (with BBSs) and 90s (with ListServs), I had no idea that one day I would (or should) be as concerned about my online social “clout” as I am being told I must do today. It’s almost like having to hit .300 every year with 40 home runs and 120 RBIs. With numbers like that I could probably get a job playing ball with the Rangers.

Or maybe as a sports metaphor writer. Now be sure to pass this along. My Klout score is counting on you.

Dr “Out Of The Park” Gerlich


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