My good friend and fellow blogger Jason Konopinski wrote a post last week that seriously got me fired up. In a good way. Titled “The Paper Tigers of Online Influence”, even the image he used made me stop and think (origami is insanely complicated but the outcome is really cool – like statistics – hmmmm.) “Paper Tiger” is an english translation of an ancient Chinese phrase. It means something as threatening as a tiger, but actually quite quite harmless. Kinda like “its bark is worse than it’s bite”. It’s fitting that Jason was talking about online influence and social scoring.
When Klout changed it’s algorithms recently, the social media glitterati saw their scores plummet. Oh, the outrage!! Twitter was aflame with complaints and comments. Some were having some fun with it (OMG! How shall I live another day!), tongue firmly planted in cheek. Even Klout’s VP of Sales winkingly revealed that his own score dropped by 14 points. But others were really upset. It’s no secret that people love to hate Klout. And I agree that there is much more to measuring influence than one’s online activity. See PeekYou for some serious statistics on the power of your audience, as well as those who are passive rather then active influencers.
Jason’s post was written from a blogger’s perspective, and he talked about the trust involved in creating content for strangers, the value (or not) or shares and RTs, and about online influence and its ‘measure’ablity’. Among the many things in this post that resonated with me was what he said about online ‘trust’, how there is no clear and measurable connection between a button click and an endorsement of trust. Yes please! Absolutely spot on statement. As he said “We’re all in the business of accumulating and spending social currency through the relationships that we forge but still make snap value-judgements based on someone’s perceived notoriety in the digital ecosystem based on fan counts, following: follower ratios, list rankings and the lot. The question remains – are we chasing paper tigers?” His answer? Yes. And I agree.
So, I left a comment. That went on. And on. And on! Thankfully he humoured me and didn’t delete it (he might have even clicked ‘like’! ) Thank you Jason, for inspiring the comment – dare I say rant – below.
My Rant On Social Influence (edited slightly to correct ranting errors)
Ok, this is gonna be fun. First, I am sick to death of people crapping all over Klout. I mean, if you really take it as some grandiose measure of all that you are, then you have some issues. But I see it as a bit of a game – and I think it’s fun. We are all programmed to want “reward” – it’s how you train your dog, kid, yourself. And when my Klout score goes up, I get a little buzz from that. Like I said, it’s a video game to me. Liking it doesn’t make one a moron (which tends to be the buzz from the Twitter big heads). And ‘easy’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Popularity contests have been around since the beginning of time, and they aren’t going away – it’s only the visual indicators (as you said above, followers, list rankings, etc.) and ways of measuring said popularity that have changed. And there are two sides to this sword – the ‘marketing’ side – where, IMHO, PeekYou and those of that ilk actually have considerable merit (who are my consumers? what are they doing? how influential are they?). And then there’s the ‘social’ side. I don’t engage with a person based on their social standings – yes, as in real life, many DO do that, sadly – but *my* social relationships have been built the human way – by getting to know someone (like YOU for example!), by gut checking on that person’s view of the world, sense of humour, etc., and by determining ultimately if we ‘click’. It’s my active choice to place “trust” in a relationship – and my fault if I get it wrong. Anyone who puts trust in social engagement based solely on social influence rankings is a tool. But hey, maybe that’s just me. The people who share my blog are 99.9% of the time people I have built real relationships with. And that’s why those shares and RTs make me squee a bit. Because it means that those people trust me also, and they trust my output, and want to share it with their friends and followers. K, I better shut up now.
What about you? Who do you trust and why? Are you influenced by people’s online ‘social status’? Think Klout carries a lot of clout? Would love to hear your thoughts.