The debate over the all mighty Klout score, the current barometer of social influence, has now spilled over beyond the espresso sipping social media geeks of Palo Alto and into mainstream society. Many view this social score card as a particularly scary likelihood, fully aware that an individual’s value could be assigned according to the worth of their social currency, in a number that could prove as pedestrian as the social security number and credit score in the years to come. In what seems to be a relatively innocuous brand message, the Klout website pictures smiling, happy users with the caption, “Everybody has Klout. Discover Yours!” Seems innocent enough right? Well that all depends on how active you are in the social space, your follow to follower ratio, retweets, likes, and @ replies. Some mysterious algorithm calculates the individual “Klout score” based on “35 variables” born of information harvested from the great social media trifecta of Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. All of this calculating culminates into a Klout score that changes daily based on your activity.
Although many think the methodology is flawed and subscribe to the idea that the platform is tinged with nefarious undertones, the premise is nonetheless, solid. Sure, Klout in some ways could serve as a catalyst for digital segregation, but on the other hand it could inspire people to become much more active on their respective social platforms, in an effort to deepen connections and enhance their social influence. That said, Klout fails to look at what people actually say, or more accurately type, in the social-sphere, placing an emphasis on artificial influence over the quality of the information that is being communicated.
Why not give a higher Klout score to the first person that tweeted from Cairo and said enough is enough, lets stand up and do something, rather than to Justin Bieber complaining about being young, rich and adored? A constructive place to start, and perhaps the genesis of something really extraordinary, would be a Klout score that truly measures one’s clout rather than a veneer of smoke and mirrors mired in the ethereal. Klout has the opportunity to create something concrete, something tangible, something that measures those who have the unique ability to spur an entire nation to action and topple oppressive regimes or prevent someone from taking a life, or cause thousands to give millions to help solve the crisis of famine. If Klout figures out a way to accurately measure a person’s influence with this sort of prolific impact in the positive, that could be a novel idea indeed.
Gerard Bush is the co-founder and Chief Creative Director of the award winning social media agency The brpr Group in Miami, Florida. Where his primary motivation is to play a constructive role in shifting the paradigm of creativity in brand marketing to include a conversational and inclusive component. Visit The brpr Group website or follow Gerard on Twitter @GerardBush.