you are not your klout scoreSome weeks there are simply topics that make ya' go hmmmm….   The past week I am having one of those “hmmmm….” moments in regard to influence scoring, ranking and usage of such metrics.

What I've seen:

  • Numerous people talk about how they are prioritizing social conversations on Twitter based upon Klout scores.
  • Too much trash talk about people with high Klout and other influence scores.
  • Divide between the folks that like the influence measures and the folks that don't.
  • Mass confusion regarding the meaning and basic knowledge of influence.
  • Confusion regarding how to understand and leverage the influence scores.
  • People taking actions repeatedly to increase Klout scores.
  • Newbies who truly think they will become more influential by giving and receiving +Ks on Klout.
  • People missing out on valuable relationships in both business and life by letting influence scores dictate where they focus, what they read, who they tweet, what they retweet and who they talk to.

Sersiously people. It's time we GET REAL on what influence is and is not. Most importantly we need to remind ourselves that social media and social influence measurement are still in their infancy.

I wrote a post last week titled “Forget the Klout Scores, What's Your Social Zoom Factor” that attempted to get this conversation started. This post is simply a continuation of my thoughts and reflection of the responses I have received via blog comments, tweets, and a great conversation we had on Tuesday during #GetRealChat which had 14 million impressions, 148 contributors & 1k+ tweets.

What is influence? (as defined by the Free Online Dictionary)
1. an effect of one person or thing on another
2. the power of a person or thing to have such an effect
3. power or sway resulting from ability, wealth, position, etc.
4. a person or thing having influence

Influence is in the eye & heart of the beholder.
Can influence truly be 100% measured via any tool?  My belief and answer to this question is no. Some of the peeps who influence me the most are the ones who make me think.

Yes we can measure what action is taken on the web that may or may not be a result of being influenced by an individual. We can measure if someone inspired us to click, like, opt-in.  However, we can't measure if we truly read, understand, relate or think.

There are people who influence me substantially that Klout wouldn't consider or report that influences me.  I may only retweet some of my favorite thought leaders such as Brian Solis,  Mari Smith and Seth Godin a few times a week.  Yet there are others who blog more frequently that I retweet and share their content daily.

According to Klout this would mean that Brian, Mari, Seth and others influence me less than the person or blog I tweet several times a week.  This couldn't be further than the truth.

I have Brian's content included in slide decks that I share with clients and teach in formal training  as well as keynote presentations.  I leverage Brian's infographics to help clients better understand social media.  Most of my client have now purchased Brian Book, Engage as well as Seth's book, the Purple Cow, or I have purchased it for them.

As for Mari, her and I are friends in both life and business. I was a co-author in the book Relationship Age with her.  Yet if you looked at my tweet stream on a typical given day you wouldn't know that she influenced me. Mari shows up as someone who influences me according to Klout. However, it's primarily because we are friends and often talk life and business via Twitter. She is online more so as a default I tweet to and share her content more. She has also influenced my life in ways that numbers can never measure.

So who is more influential? The author of the blog posts I tweet daily or the three people mentioned above. You know my answer.

The Social Zoom Factor = the WHY Factor
I don't need an influence scoring system to tell me what and who influences me.  I know in my heart and in my brain who I am influenced by.  There is no possible way for Klout or any other influence system to know if I think about Brian's words on Saturday afternoon when I am at the beach.

I know what makes my business and life zoom. I know what blog posts I read, what I ignore and what makes me think on the weekend.

Do you know what makes your audience think, share, and go zoom? If you are not relevant to your audience you are not influential.  Focus on the metrics that will help you answer the why questions that will increase the relevance to your audience.  Why should they care what you say. Why should they tweet you, follow you, or waste their breath talking to you?

My thoughts on the social zoom factor are in this post “Forget the Klout Scores, What's Your Social Zoom Factor”

10 Tips to Stay Sanely Influenced

1. Only you know what and who influences you. Tools or no tools you know what and who influences you.

2. Influence measuring systems are still in their infancy. Although Klout claims to be the “standard for influence” the truth is we have a long way to go in regard to influence measurement. Take the current tools for what they are and don't base life decisions on such.

3. You are NOT your Klout score. Don't let the Klout scores define you.

4. Don't let the Klout scores prioritize and determine your action online. I have seen people simply lose their minds regarding Klout scores. I actually saw a blog post where the guy tracked (and bragged) about how thanking people for retweeting his blog post via individual tweets increased his Klout score. He was proud of the fact it went up a point or two. The worst part is he cluttered his tweet stream for two plus days with boring thank you's just to raise a score? Makes no sense to me.

5. Don't let the influence scores determine who you talk to or don't talk to. If you base such decisions on a Klout or other influence score you might miss out on a conversation that could change your business or even life.  I have many very influential business partners, clients and colleagues who have Klout scores below 25. However, they are more influential than many people with scores above 60. They are people who have literally changed my business and my life. What if I had originally chose to ignore and not respond to their tweet or Facebook comment because they had a low influence score? Would have been my loss. 

6. Lose the ego. Just because you have a high influence score because you tweet to your 2000 followers all day does not mean you are a certified influencer.  Yes, there are many people with few followers who are more influential than those with thousands. You know the truth behind the numbers just as those who are or aren't influenced by your content do.

7. Stop the trash talk. Don't assume everyone who has a high Klout score focuses on it all day long. I am one with decent influence scores. I do not game any system, send tweets with an intention to increase scores etc.  I focus on my audience plain and simple. I work hard to inspire and connect with those who read my content with a focus on helping them achieve their objectives.   Realize the scores are just that, scores. Don't damage relationships and make yourself look like negative Nelly on twitter all day because you're unhappy with your Klout score.  Instead focus on your audience, creating relevant content and chances are by default your score will also increase.  Even if it doesn't who cares. It's not only the score that matters.

8. Take the data for what it is. Yes, there is still value in the influence metrics. Leverage the data provided to learn about your audience, understand what content you are writing is being shared, etc. Look beneath the covers of a score. There is more to an influence score than what meets the eye. Do the double click to truly understand who you are influencing and why.

9. Marry the influence data with other metrics. The most powerful metrics for many are the combination of web and traditional other metrics combined with influence metrics.  How are people behaving when they visit your website? How long are they staying on site? What can you do to understand the behavior of those who are influenced by you to make better decisions?

10. If you are not relevant with your audience today it may not matter tomorrow! Influence scores of today do not equal relevance.  Focus more on the why questions than the what. Why is your content being read, shared, influencing the minds of your target audience.  Focus on scores alone will distract you from your core business and objectives, guaranteed.

11.  There is more to life than social media influence. Yes, anyone who knows me know that I eat, sleep and breathe social media. However, I also remind myself daily there is more to life than Twitter, Facebook and Google plus. Focus on the people in your life that don't know what Klout scores are along with the ones that do. Remember why you are in business to begin with.  Let the numbers start influencing your actions online and they'll soon be controlling your time spent enjoying life. Don't do it!

*Yes, I know there are 11 tips. Last one is a bonus ;)

What You Say?

What are your thoughts? Do you think some people are losing their minds in the influence score fud and fudder? Are you also seeing people prioritizing conversations, actions and more based upon influence scores while letting their business suffer? How do you leverage the influence scores to help you make decisions?