About the author: James Duval would hold a black belt in IT maintenance if there was such a thing. He writes blogs for Strategy Internet Marketing about his quest to reach social media nirvana. Image: Yuko Honda
The social media landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, yet the term we use to describe it remains the same even after all if its transformations and technological advances.
So does ‘the term ‘social media’ still apply to every one of the networks in use today?
Is Klout social at all?
We do still use sites to be social. Many people use Facebook to keep up to date with all forms of announcements and social interactions. It can even be used as a defining milestone for certain events, as many do not see a relationship as “over” unless the status is changed on Facebook.
An online interaction can define the end of a real world social relationship. Powerful stuff.
What About Klout?
Klout, a relatively new phenomenon to many casual social network users, skipping the formalities and measuring how influential we are on social media networks.
It allows us to assign points to another user if we feel that they are influential on a subject. These points are tallied on a graph and you can then judge how many points you have compared to others.
So Klout is a Game?
One thing that strikes me about Klout is it falls in line with the gamification of social networking. It was not long after the popularity of Facebook that people inevitably started to judge each other on how many friends they had. With Twitter it has become a lot more complicated than that, with a complex ratio system the underlying ruler of whether someone is likely to follow you.
Yes, there will be some of you leaping to Twitter’s defense, saying that how many people you follow does not matter, that it’s all about the quality of your network and not the quantity – but with Klout it really is the quality that gets you a bigger ‘score’.
There we have it, ‘score’. A simple word that transforms what was once a tool to measure statistics of your networks, into a highly competitive game.
Why Measure Your Social Media Statistics Anyway?
Well, if there is any doubt over the power that social media has, you only need to pluck a company out of the air with a bigger share worth than a similar sized company with tangible assets: Instagram.
So who actually needs Klout? Sure, it can be used to measure marketing campaigns from ecommerce SEO, tracking the reach of corporate accounts, but Klout is after more than just business users. Klout is after you.
We all want to be successful and influential in our field, and who doesn’t want a way to feel like they have achieved that? Klout promises to tell you that you are doing well, giving you a little pat on the back like you are a valuable member of society.
The Social Ponzi Scheme
But we can’t all be successful and influential can we? No, we can’t. Try as we might, apart from a select few, it is still our offline influence that will have the biggest bearing on our experiences online.
Of course, Klout masquerades itself as a tool to compare yourself with your network. It doesn’t actively influence you to pimp yourself out on every network under the sun, but again the gamification does that automatically. It seems that everyone from Mafia Wars to Airtime.com wants you to gain badges – and boy do people love badges!
Klout taps into our innate urge to compare ourselves. Part of the reason that Facebook flourished was that we could compare ourselves with our old schoolmates; who has been successful, who is driving what car, who has really let themselves go? Klout gives us the opportunity to do this over a whole spectrum of social media.
Someone else may have won the battle, but you will win the war.