Have you heard? There is a public backlash against social influence ranking tools such as Klout, Peerindex and the myriad similar tools that are sprouting up with breakneck speed to measure your influence in social media.
It’s a slow motion riot, though, because nobody is sure exactly what these barometers will ultimately mean for themselves, for influencers and for agencies of all social stripes.
The arguments against these hierarchical tools are many, but the coherence of that message is diluted by the inconsistent gripes and grievances about said tools. Some want the algorithms changed; some want Klout killed; some are publicly renouncing their Klout citizenship.
But we do know this: much like “tax breaks for millionaires,” influential social media players benefit the most from these social rankings. For example, tweets from folks with higher Klout scores last up to 67 times longer than tweets from social commoners. Perhaps that’s why some folks like Jason Falls are coming out against the Klout naysayers. Read:Please Don’t Quit Klout. Or at Least Don’t Announce It.
“Guess what? 99.9 percent of the people you really care about in the world don’t measure you with a number,” Jason writes. “Neither do most people who have half a brain. So why be a 0.1 per center? Ignore the score.”
I think Jason (who I know a little bit and admire) makes fair points, but it’s what he does not say that resonates loudest to me. As it relates social influence dominance, he’s an elite among the elites – squarely in the 0.1 percent of influencers. If social media assets were property, he’d basically own Rhode Island.
He’s winning the Social Arms Race, one blog post at a time.
Therefore, theoretically folks like Jason have the most to lose – in terms of “perks” and the dissemination and longevity of his prolific content generation machine – than do people who simply dabble in social channels.
To be crystal clear, tools like Klout didn’t do jack to make Mr. Falls successful; his brain and ambition won that battle long ago. But back to that “tax break for fat cats analogy,” Klout and similar tools are just gravy for those who already enjoy the most influence in the social sphere. While the 99 percent scrambles and scrapes for crumbs of digital recognition, the folks at the top (deservedly, IMHO) are bellied up to the buffet of social benefits.
Just like corporate titans the elite social influencers were first, best, or more determined than you or I to win at the social game, and today they reap the rewards. Just as the uber wealthy consider themselves the “job creators,” the social elite are bona fide content creators that provide the brain droppings that are the lubricant of the social sharing machinery.
Don’t hate the playa, hate the game, right?
Which brings us back to the influence ranking tools themselves. They are proliferating. They are iterating. And the net result, I’d argue, will be a dilutive effect on the prevalence of any one service.
The democratization of influence is what the anti-Klout groups are fighting for, even if the message is thinly veiled as “flaws with the tool.” The 99 percent of social media users resent the 1 percent of social media kings like Jason Falls, who wishes everyone would quit whining and ignore the disparity, because it doesn’t matter much, anyway. Wink, wink.
As for me, I have a fairly respectable Klout score that toggles back and forth around the 50 mark. I get a few perks thrown my way – a coupon to this; a free pass to that. I’m not in David Armano or Brian Solis territory by any stretch, and I’m okay with that.
But I think I’m like most people who watch the Occupy Wall Street movement with a feeling of detachment. I feel the pain of folks who think the influence game is rigged, but I’m not suffering any discernable ill consequences from the disparity between the haves and the have-nots.
No, I’m content to keep working at providing great content so that I might increase engagement with my target audiences through my humble written offerings. I’ll never be in the 1 percent (unless Justin Bieber decides to make it his life’s mission to flog my content).
I will not opt out of Klout. I will not rail against its inherent flaws, or those of its competitors. I will instead put my head down and do great work, and know that the reward is in the doing, not in the getting.
Posted on: December 19, 2011 at 9:24 am By Todd Defren