Over the next several days, I’m posting cartoons I drew for Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World, by Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine. I blogged about the book a while ago on Social Signal, explaining why I love it and why I think you should go buy a copy right now.
Klout is an intriguing service, one that aims to measure your influence on Twitter (and now on Facebook). It’s admittedly far from perfect; “I can get people to retweet things” is pretty minor influence compared to “I can get people to consider certain ideas” or “I can sway people’s voting habits”. But until the Twitter API is hooked up to some of the machinery from Inception – or unless you’re willing to pay for some far more intensive and probably more manual analysis – we work with what we have.
And if you take “influence” to mean “reach of voice” or “ability to direct others’ attention at least for a moment”, then Klout (and cousins like Twinfluence, Twitalyzer, Tweetlevel and my very own Influ-a-rama-matic – what it lacks in reliability it makes up for in ego-boosting) can be pretty useful. Just remember it’s a starting point… and that the raw Klout score is a pretty blunt instrument. (“How influential are you?” “64.”) Diving in and looking at some of the more detailed metrics can take you further, and tell you, for instance, that person x has a lot of followers but doesn’t often engage them, while person y has a smaller audience but much more vigorous engagement.
Even then, though, you’ll need to figure out for yourself what subjects they’re most “influential” on, and with whom. (Klout takes a stab at it with a topic summary at the bottom of each profile, and it’s not a bad starting point. Also, I had no idea that Alex was so influential about the Vancouver Canucks.)
So why, then, do I check Klout obsessively?
- Badges. They have badges.
- To make up for what happened in high school. (Yes, I know.) Dammit, people do love me, and I can quantify it.
- Badges and personal validation… do I really need a third reason?