Klout: The Online Standard of Vanity?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the weight of Klout scores. With the gospel of influencer marketing pollinating the media, it’s hard not to. Like stocks and credit scores, it’s easy to get caught up in the rise and fall of where you stand in relation to others. But is there more to it that makes our Klout monitoring so addicting?

Many a marketing folk will tell you there’s no point in engaging with someone with a Klout score lower than 50. I’m writing today to tell you that’s b-u-l-l. For two reasons:

1) Many a great influencer was born offline.

2) Many a Klout master are just vain social media junkies with nothing of real value to add to the conversation.

Take this scenario:

Congratulations Sally totally-social-because-I-take-lots-of-pictures Stephens! Your Klout increased to 54 this week. You really elevated your game with that Instagram shot of your teacup yorkie paddle surfing. Nevermind the post-traumatic stress he’s had to cope with so you could find the perfect photo angle. You rock!”

Compared to this scenario:

“Sorry Mary too-busy-to-market-myself-today Moore. Your Klout decreased to 47. You were obviously too busy working or engaging in actual conversation to share your digital awesomeness this week. Boo for you.”

So Mary’s score sucks and Sally’s is on fire. Does that mean Mary doesn’t have anything influential to share? I highly doubt it. Maybe she just doesn’t feel the need to post her daily life on the internet.

My take: Klout is a great tool for finding new influencers, but not a great tool for weeding them out. There are many great thought leaders who still choose to conduct their daily activities offline. Just because they don’t create content in a digital form doesn’t mean it’s not worth finding. 

On a deeper level (and pardon while I get on my soap box), I often wonder if social monitoring tools reward the worst aspects of our nature. Are we really rewarding the right social behaviors when we expect people to pause, post, snap and check-in at every enjoyable life moment?

Case in point: I had lunch with a few girlfriends today. On the way to the restaurant, I thought to myself, “Hey! I’ve never been to this restaurant before. What a great opportunity to amp up my Yelp account with a check-in.” So I made a mental note to do that. When I got to lunch, however, I was so involved with the conversation with my friends and enjoyment of my lunch that I completely forgot to check in. Whoops, my bad. But then I thought: What if half-way through lunch I remembered and reached for my phone. I’d log in, take a picture, post a review, etc. My speedy check-in easily turned into a 5 minute ordeal of getting the right camera angle with the right filters. Not long after, I imagine my two friends looking at me as though I’ve interrupted the conversation with some sort of work emergency. “What were we talking about? Oh, it was nothing.” Good conversation spoiled. Social indecency strikes again. Maybe I’m glad I forgot to check in.

How often does this happen to you, in a business or casual setting? I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of this behavior that inevitably causes good lunches to go bad. “Get off your freaking phone already!” someone is always thinking (and lately it’s been me).  I blame Klout. I blame Instagram. I blame Facebook. I blame all the digital networking platforms that make us feel social by rewarding unsocial behavior.

Call it a rant, but I want to start a movement that rewards quality relationships built offline equally as online. That rewards good content in any medium. And that most importantly rewards those who have the patience to enjoy life’s moments without feeling the need to have the world continually comment on them, or define themselves by how others perceive them.

End of rant. Goodnight.

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