Influence Shminfluence

Been considering influence and Twitter scoring a while as this post toiled away in drafts, then got ‘scooped’ by the damn New York Times over the weekend. Sheesh.

Is influence a myth?

Oprah liked a book, it sold millions, the publishers and book stores were happy (you KNOW they miss that action!). Influence, right? Friends know I’m a Disney World fan, so I get asked for tips and tricks, restaurant and shopping suggestions. If they act based upon my advice, influence yes?

Why did people buy the books Oprah picked? She’s a celebrity whom they trusted; viewers felt they had a relationship with her. People know I’ve been to WDW a lot, so they trust my experience.

How do you rate, measure that? Maybe that’s the illusion. - I'm impervious to external influence.

Jayme Soulati and Jenn Whinnem got me thinking about influence and Klout, a scoring system (see also: Twitter Grader, Peer Index) that looks at a person’s online influence.

Klout measures online influence by scoring social networks, specifically Twitter, Facebook and now LinkedIn. (YouTube, your blog, your comments, other online activities can all suck it.)

Twitter. My own like of Twitter certainly skews my appreciation for it, but I have no disolutions of its influence. I may get more posts RT these days, but it’s because of the networking the comments elswhere that have built relationships, grown an audience. Big name tweeters like a Brogan or Kawasaki may get 50-100 RTs per tweet or link but then, how many are automated, regurgited junk? How many actually get clicked? See also, a major site post that has 1) great headline and 2) 257 RTs and 3) 6 comments.

Facebook. My own FB bias taints my views on this as well. Work and play are separate; different networks, different audiences with ENTIRELY different goals. I have goals via Twitter and LinkedIn to build a network and reach clients; Facebook I visit to say ‘hi’ to friends, play Farkle once in a random mood. For me and many others, Facebook has no relevance to my professional influence, so I haven’t and won’t add it.

LinkedIn. Again with the different audiences, but with a fair amount of Twitter crossover. (Speaking of which, the autoposting every tweet to LI, please make it stop.) Added my LI today, suspect my score will drop as I’m not as active on LinkedIn, but at least it’s business and interest relevant, so there’s that.

What’s the problem?

  • The scores can be gamed, rigged, artificially inflated. Google shows some 90K posts on how to raise your Klout score.
  • Tweeters take time off. Collin Kromke’s Klout score went up while on vacation, Mark Schaefer’s down.
  • Say who? It tells me that some of my influencers are people with whom I don’t engage (though the latest changes have it more accurate).

My biggest problem, aside from Facebook: Klout and other tools don’t measure the Why, motivations we have for sharing something: Am I tweeting or LinkedIn only to curry favor with an A-lister that’ll ignore me the rest of the time? Is it boredom, interest? Was the tweet actually read, clicked? Is it because you’re part of a Tribe?

To be fair having a ‘standard’ unit of measurement has its place. It’s a work in progress, Klout is a fair judge of my Twitter usage; I’m just not convinced what it measures is influence. Thoughts?

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45 thoughts on “Influence Shminfluence

  1. Thanks for sharing your post with me!

    I did add Facebook to my Klout profile, but I hate that it’s my personal profile and not my business page. I think that could make a small difference in my score, but do I really want to get caught up in a scoring system? Probably not. I would much rather focus on how to foster community and to build relationships. That leads to influence, but I think you’re right about the fact that influence can’t be measured in a mere number. Influence seems to be much more of a psychology thing. Why are we influenced by a certain person and not another? I don’t know that we even know the full story behind our own motivations at times. It’s a little silly to think that a tool such as Klout would.
    Erin Feldman recently posted..Community and Relationship Building

    1. Thank you! If we’re looking at online influence, I’m guessing we’re more concerned with professional (ie. FB page) rather than personal (profile). It’s like celebrity endorsesments and do you really think or care of so-and-so drives that car? It may increase your awareness of it but unlikely to separate the money from your wallet.

      So what if this celeb or that SM ‘guru’ had a link RT’d 367 times – if no one clicked the link (could have been dead) and/or read or did anything next. Even then, was it their influence that motivated it or the RTers wanting to game their own score?

      It’s not that I don’t think there’s some validity and interest to what Klout does Erin (will breakdown, look at PeerIndex one day). It can give a decent profile snapshot of a Twitter user, there is some THERE there, I’m just not gonna call it influence. FWIW.

  2. I want to add one thing about the retweets. I remember seeing a video Dino made for Triberr and saw a blogger who I think has at least 30.000 followers if not more. There were only 3 clicks on the links that blogger shared! That obviously shows how numbers are not important and that there is no real influence there.

    At the same time, I got 66 clicks on a single post just because Gini D. shared it. Now that is influence!

    Awesome post, Davina, as always 😉
    Brankica recently posted..Turn Commenters Into Newsletter Subscribers With 30 Seconds of Work

    1. And that ‘influence’ will always vary Brankica. Per blogger, per post, per clever headline and tweet and what else is going on that day. Those with so-called Klout and numbers may not get the RTs and clicks, but someone lower on the scale (not Gini, think she’s up there) could totally rock the house. FWIW.

  3. Over the past year there was a flurry of media attention about Sun Media, an ultra-conservative/right-wing TV station being granted a precious cable channel license from the (powerful) Canadian CRTC. Avaaz even got into the act, setting up a campaign to STOP Fox News North.

    It didn’t work.

    But here’s the thing. The most recent numbers showed that, on average, only 4,000 Canadians (out of 34 million) were bothering to watch Sun Media TV. Ergo, it’s actual “influence” is extremely limited.

    Which brings me to the main point of my comment. If Klout is NOT influential…how come so much digital ink springs up around the platform and its people? How come so many individuals interview its CEO or invite its marketing person to participate in Twitter chats? (I know Megan Berry guest-hosted #smmeasure about one year ago.)

    I’m tired of the pile-ons by bloggers, etc. Especially when I noticed that they’ve taken advantage of “Klout Perks” in the past. A wee bit hypocritical, n’est-ce pas?)

    Note: I have been offered a round-trip airplane fare, an advance movie screening, info packs/advance viewings of TV pilots and ebooks from Klout. For various reasons, to date I have not opted for any of them.

    In a nutshell: if you don’t WANT Klout to be influential…stop talking and writing about them. Otherwise you simply have blinders on in terms of how influential Klout is in your own life. Just sayin’!

    (When I say “you” I mean a general blogger/SM person “you,” not you-you, Davina.)

    Klout Watcher Judy

    1. Did you notice, I didn’t namedrop Klout in the title? That’s one reason why Judy.. it matters only to those who care about such things; meanwhile the other 6.5 billion are just fine with nary a clue. Why I decided to pile on (I know you don’t mean ‘me’): if we don’t point out the flaws and allow it to become a de facto (and totally arbitrary, b.s.) standard, that does no one any favors. Just speaking my peace, and I’ll resume not caring any day now.. until the next nonsense comes along. FWIW.

  4. Klout schmout, but you know what? HootSuite (I recently migrated there from TweetDeck after Twitter bought it) puts Klout scores in peeps’ profiles! I was astonished; that’s a huge endeavor, and when I saw that all lined up, it pulled me in.

    Now, I’m trying to flippin’ master the +K thing; had to watch a video twice and still can’t get my dashboard to let me give K love…why do things have to be so challenging? Because it’s tech…stupid. (blog post?)

    So, meanwhile, as we all sit here are bash or love Klout; you watch, it’s gonna go IPO for a gazillion $$ and everyone is going to compare one consultant to another to see who’s Klout is higher and that person will win the prize.
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..Triberr Means Business

    1. It’s a game.. not playing. And still using TD, haven’t tried HS yet. Listen Jayme, if you become a master of the Klout and you follow me, that means guilt by association and my score goes up too? So knock yourself out, have fun. 🙂

    1. The sheep vid is made of win Lisa, thanks for the link as yes I was too damn lazy to go get it myself. 🙂 Totally agree… Klout paints a picture of my Twitter usage but that’s it; still not sure it measures ‘influence’ .. there or anywhere else. FWIW.

  5. After reading the comments above – I feel like all of you are hammering this out rather well. I just thought I’d share some of my impressions as well.

    You’re onto something here, Davina. Influence. How do you really measure influence? It seems to be something more difficult to measure online versus in the real world. There are many ways to measure influence. During elections – it’s the campaign that causes the most influence – that makes THAT candidate elected. Marketing wise, if someone promotes a product and it’s bought at a high level – you could assume that individual has a strong influence. But only in that AREA!

    I wonder how much our “influence” for different aspects has a transcendent value on other topics. If Oprah started talking to me about how to blog better – I don’t know that I would listen well, because I’d judge her based on experience. If a football player told me how to code, would I be affected. Not really.

    Then again, whatever Oprah is to talk about – more than likely is going to be listened to. No matter the topic.

    Disney is going to achieve a large audience for WHATEVER they produce, due to their influence. In that regard – their influence transcends any medium, location, product, etc…

    And how have they achieved that influence? Well, probably from building something from the ground up. They achieved an influence in movies and art, then moved to theme parks, business development, etc…They started small – and branched out.

    These are just a few thoughts. I’m rambling now. But you’ve got me thinking – so job well done on this post. Thanks Davina.
    Christian Hollingsworth recently posted..Interview with Nile Flores of

    1. Part of it is measuring .. and part of it is defining what exactly influence IS. Both are part of the issue Christian.

      The Oprah example is so important; people with a ‘relationship’ with her my like her book choices or trust her favorite sheets in terms of recommendations.. but if they don’t like how she dresses, will they trust her fashion picks? Doubt it. People who don’t watch her.. but know her name, sure they may buy a book with the Oprah seal of approval vs. something else, if in a rush at the airport. That’s booksellers marketing, celebrity branding.. but is it influence? Like you said, she’s going to be listened to on almost anything.

      Again, I don’t know if it’s influence that makes people heed my Disney or Apple recommendations or something else. How many times have people ignored damn good professional or personal advice, to do their own thing… based upon other motivations and interests? Just food for thought.. thanks for your ramble, quite good.

    2. There are lots of ways to measure influence online. When I sold online advertising we always made sure that the ads linked to a landing page that tracked all of the activities that went on there.

      Ideally the advertiser had things set up so that we could follow what happened in the post click conversion period. That let us determine how many leads were developed from the ad as well as how many converted into sales.

      After a while we had a pretty good idea of what our readers would respond to and what they didn’t.

      Some of that can be applied to blogging and Twitter.
      Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..More Proof That Great Headlines Don’t Matter

  6. For some of us Klout is useful. We can debate whether it is accurate and reliable but the reality is that it is being used by brands/companies to measure influence. My “mission” is a bit different from most of yours.

    As a dad blogger I sometimes work with brands to help them promote their products/services to my readers. Many of those brands/companies pay attention to Klout scores so mine has helped me secure some opportunities that I might not have gotten otherwise.

    On a related note the discussion regarding influence reminds me of when I used to sell space. I would meet with Fortune 500 clients to discuss constructing an ad campaign on the network I represented and would have to fight tooth and nail for $100k.

    They would give me all sorts of push back as to why they didn’t want to spend the money with me and then go spend millions on television commercials during the U.S. Open. Used to make me nuts to listen to them talk about how many influential prospects were probably watching. All I wanted was a small portion to use to demonstrate how online advertising provided better results that were more easily tracked.

    Ok, enough on that, you get the point.
    Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..Know Your Own Worth Part II

    1. I do get the point.. of your excellent comment Jack, as well as that of Klout or other measuring tools. It’s valid and smart that clients kick the tires of their consultants, yet as pointed out these measures are inadequate or inaccurate, and can be manipulated. If all someone looks at is a number on a screen, it’s on them for not looking closer and getting a composite picture; it’s also on me if I don’t like something, see the perils of it but don’t say anything. So I let my fingers do the typing.. see what happens. Glad you stopped in tonight, thanks.

      Oh and on your related note, I can totally relate 🙂 .. smaller numbers from SMBs but same thing. Can’t shake out a few extra thousand for projects that would have legs, shelf life, and returns but they’ll show me some little ad they got ‘sold’ that cost twice as much and looks crappier than what a 14-year-old could have done with iMovie. *shakeshead*

      1. I appreciate your comments about it and agree. I think that a combination of inertia, fear and laziness lead people to search for easy solutions. Someone says that they have a nifty algorithm that measures influence and bam, that is good enough.

        It is like the little ad you mentioned and the television spot I mentioned. People buy those because they are safe. You don’t get fired for them and you look like you are doing something.
        Jack @ TheJackB recently posted..Know Your Own Worth Part II

        1. I hear ya. It was lame, but alas was a done deal so I couldn’t object (but did point out some suggested improvements for the future!). It was the same rationale you mentioned “think of how many could be watching.” Grr.. seen so much money wasted on safe, the easy way, automate it all, set it and forget it.. lazy solutions that don’t fix a thing.

    2. I think Jack’s point is the primary issue. People from outside SM are using it to evaluate people for consulting gigs, jobs, etc. So, it can’t be totally ignored.

      There seems to be fairly strong consensus among people who use SM regularly that Klout is incredibly flawed as a measurement tool, and as you said Davina, is stuck with the very tricky problem of defining what influence is. I spend zero time worrying about Klout, as in focusing on increasing it, but will check it once in awhile just to see status.
      Adam Toporek recently posted..What Does Your Blog Do When You Vacation?

      1. Pretty much with you Adam; can’t and shouldn’t dismiss it outright by virtue of the fact others will take it seriously. So I know what it is, enough of how it works to explain what it does, and more importantly, what it doesn’t do. FWIW.

    1. Just read about EA the other day John .. or at least, read that name in context of Klout and other such things. Is what it is, I just don’t think it has anything to do with influence or the measurement thereof. Did I see that vid??? Can’t remember.

  7. I really dislike the whole Klout thing, even though I’ll probably put that Klout + button on my blog. I feel like I have to pay attention to it, because it’s become such a big deal. But I kind of resent it because, like you, I don’t think it’s a good measure. Mostly, just doing my thing, like you.
    Neicole Crepeau recently posted..neicolec: @Soulati @jonbuscall I just haven’t had time to watch the guide & figure it out. I was counting on you to tell me!

    1. Honestly I haven’t paid attention to the Klout + button or the Google + thing either Neicole; just not a productive use of my time. We’ll just do our thing, see what happens. 🙂

  8. Thanks for mentioning my site: a major site post that has 1) great headline and 2) 257 RTs and 3) 6 comments. I need all the Klout I can get…..what? You mean I went backwards on that one?

    I think I might be guilty of auto-posting my tweets to LinkedIn but I’m over there so rarely I don’t know. I need to go see what’s going on and I probably need to figure out the applicability of that platform as well.

    What is an ‘A’ lister anyway? Some purport to be ‘all that’ but if you dig down you might see what they say vs what they really do are two different things. It appears they are more interested in gaming the system. That must be why they are staying away from my site because they are afraid I will drag their measurement scores down. I say that facetiously, but I have my suspicions and that’s all I will say on it.

    I could give two hoots (hoot, hoot) about keywords, who I’m connected to, who I RT; I’m just doing my stuff and hopefully it is benefiting some of my friends. If I’m an anchor to ya, I apologize but don’t expect me to change much.

    Sorry I got off on that little kicker but I really did enjoy your post today. I hope all is well.
    Bill Dorman recently posted..I’ve learned too much; my head hurts

    1. HA! Dude you rock… how’d you know I was thinking of my favorite VISIBLE blogger? 😉 Bill I cross post my tweet of my blog post to LI; but I’ve seen people have almost 100% sync of Twitter to LI and/or FB which IMHO = a world of NO.

      I am bad on the keywords; I mean I try to write for a little SEO, tweak my permalinks and headlines if I think to for better results.. but don’t obsess. Thanks for jumping in and LOVED your kicker so here’s one right back at ya:

      I DO give MANY hoots about who I RT or rather WHAT I tweet; if the content and quality are there and I think it’ll benefit my readers, I’ll RT anything without giving a rodent’s posterior about who wrote it or what their score is or what those connections to do my score. Piffle as Shonali says! 🙂

  9. Just checked my Klout–it’s up to 59, whatever that means, and I am still more influential about chocolate than I am about writing (and I do a fair number of posts about writing). These days, everyone is doing the whole +K thing. I have no interest nor time to get involved in that game. Someone is going to have to invent a new browser extension that will block the +K tweets!

    I don’t connect with people because of some imaginary number. I don’t care how much influence they have or don’t have. We should all be here to learn and share and help each other, not judge people based on a newly invented scoring system. If you care more about numbers than people, social media is not the place for you. 😉
    Marianne Worley recently posted..7 Reasons I Didn’t Read Your Post

    1. Funny you mentioned a BLOCKER Marianne. I just found and will tweet later, Proxlet. Installed it on Chrome and am blocking Foursquare and some other apps from my Twitter stream; no offense to those who use these automated apps but I gotta cut some of the noise. Anyway, maybe you can use that to block those playing the Klout game?

      My score as of yesterday was 50 and I agree w/ you: if it’s about numbers not people, then either social ain’t the place for you or I’ll happily play in a different part of the social sandbox. 🙂

        1. Heh, I won’t tell. I use TweetDeck, haven’t given HS a try. I’ve just installed it on Chrome, hasn’t been buggy yet but not sure if it’s working either. May give it a whirl on TD; just goes to show there ARE folks who want filters so we can block some of whatever we consider to be ‘noise’.

        1. Trying Proxlet here and there; seeing if it works better for Chrome or TD; etc. Funny.. Foursquare is one of the things I’d block but I actually replied to an update tonight. There are a few other autobots out there, pumping my stream with noise. Hate to say it but is quickly becoming junk… and think as Twitter buys TD and/or looks to expand its services, things like this – user CONTROL – is what can push it forward. Thanks for stopping in!

  10. I think Klout is a bunch of nonsense. I apparently am influential about The Beatles, Mazdas, and New Jersey. The problem is that Klout does not take into account what we actually blog about. They just see keywords and lock in on those.

    The system can be gamed so easily. Even I could do it (if I had enough influence!) Really, I mean it is good for seeing that you get some RT’s (and who doesn’t like that?) but it really is not good for much else. Just my two cents. YMMV
    Nancy Davis recently posted..Hiding in Plain Sight

    1. Until it takes into blogging (and your comments), I agree with you Nancy.. it won’t really give an accurate composite picture. The gaming will only increase, numbers will skew as for every new auto-RT tool they consider in their algorithm, 5 more will crop up. The concept is valid I guess, if you’re vetting a new hire or potential expert, you want to see if they measure up. But then, what’s more important: their lower-than-expect Klout score (lower b/c they were busy working, not inflating their numbers) or the referrals and recommendations that say they get results? Appreciate your thoughts, as always. Now.. what can you tell me about New Jersey? 😉

      1. New Jersey is the birthplace of Francis Albert Sinatra. 🙂 We genuflect when we mention him. It is State Law that you must know at least 3 Sinatra songs by heart. It is also required that all residents be a fan of either Springsteen or BonJovi, or both. Big hair is no longer required, but those with flat hair get looked at funny.

        We also have the most malls of any state. We also grow the best tomatoes. Women from Jersey are often called “Jersey Tomatoes”

        We have the best diners, and the most of them. Trust me. Our diners beat any other hands down.

        We park in driveways, and we drive on Parkways. 🙂 We have so many exits that someone says they are from Jersey, the other person will ask – me too, which exit?

        Jimmy Hoffa was NOT buried in Giants Stadium. We do not know anyone by that name. 😉
        Nancy Davis recently posted..Hiding in Plain Sight

        1. IDK Nancy, looks like maybe Klout was right and you are a Jersey expert. I’d probably be BANNED for life for disclosing that I really don’t ‘get’ the uberLOVE for Springsteen. Which would suck as one of my BFFs lives there.. so I do know about the ‘exit’ thing. Please tell me this, so I can rest assured the apocalypse isn’t quite upon us yet: most of you are deeply shamed by that dreadful TV crap, would like them excommunicated from the state, yes? Off to see if they say I’m a Disney or Apple influencer, which they should. 😉

          1. Oh God, that horrible show? The worst part is that it is filmed in the County I live in (of course) The “Housewives” disgust me. None of my friends watch that garbage, and we are all very embarrassed about that awful nonsense.

            I would put them all on a rocket and send them into deep space. The world can thank me later. 🙂
            Nancy Davis recently posted..Hiding in Plain Sight

            1. What little I’ve seen of all that stuff (here in Atlanta) too.. I must say, I agree and will contribute to your rocket ship fund. That is a cause for humanity my friend.

  11. Nope. IMHO – and I know I’ve written, tweeted, etc., ad nauseam about this so I’ll keep it short – Klout is a measure of one’s Twitter, and maybe Facebook (I can’t really tell if LinkedIn is *really* factoring into their algorithm even though they recently added it) activity. They can say all the way about “the ability to drive action,” but IMHO, it’s not. Getting RTd a ton doesn’t mean that someone is actually going to TAKE the action you need them to take.

    1. That’s one real issue Shonali: the after effect, that all important buy-in or whatever you’d call it. A RT does not equal a read or a click or a comment; doesn’t mean anyone acted upon the share and doesn’t look at the degree of response. Example: you Blue Key campaign – I bought one (only a $5 donation), tweeted it (once) and that was that; I stopped at reblogging, becoming an advocate, taking that extra action. Thanks for your thoughts.

    2. I’m going to piggy back on what Shonali said, and take it one step further—Klout, in itself, doesn’t make money. There are many bloggers, marketers, etc with a ‘low’ Klout score that are much more successful monetarily, and influential, than the high ‘Klouters’.

      As of right now, it’s my goal to never check my Klout score. I still have no idea what it is, so if it ever goes nuts Davina, feel free to let me know so we can have the ‘Klout parade’. 😉

      Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion recently posted..Big Business, Content Marketing, and the Stupid Reasons We Choose Not to Blog

      1. Very similar to my reply to Nancy.. many folks are out there working and doing and getting results; no time to tweet, game or worry about vanity numbers. Marcus I used to have that goal and never checked, but like other rankings and what not.. it’s not that I don’t care but others do. IDK If I’m going to be ‘against’ something or argue that it’s irrelevant, I should at least have an idea of what it is first, so I can snark about it appropriately. 😉 And FWIW, I don’t think I’ve every checked your or anyone else’s Klout score, so beyond my caring.

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