The thing that I’ve always valued most about social media, and blogging in particular, is the authenticity. The mom blogs that succeed are not the ones filled with long posts about the perfection of everyday life. Unless, maybe, you’re Design Mom. We engage with the people who engage us. We open our discussions to the world. And through that process, we find our tribes.
So when I first got wind of Klout, the service that assigns us each a score based on the perceived importance of who you do and don’t converse with , I thought yep. That’s the end of the social media as we know it.
It’s bad enough watching the hand-wringing and drama over those top 50 blogger lists that you can’t influence with votes or a sudden, dubious increase in Twitter followers. But now there’s essentially a list whose results you can change.
Or can you?
Yesterday, I read with interest a post by my friend Amy about unfollowing people on Twitter. I understood most of her rationale. (Not that she needs to justify any of it to anyone.) But one of the reasons she gave, was to influence her Klout score. And I thought, here we go. This is what I’ve been worried about for a year:
Now Klout is not evaluating how we interact on social media, but rather influencing how we interact.
As I wrote to Amy, it seems like a slippery slope to “I can’t talk to you because you’re just not popular enough.” Which…
She equated it with schools teaching to the test. And I think she’s got a point.
The thing is, I like the way Klout evaluates the way you use social media. I think the people who started it are brilliant and earnest and well-meaning. I also find some of its analysis accurate, and pretty engaging. What I don’t like is seeing bloggers living and dying on some numerical score generated by a computer informed by an algorithm that’s so flawed, that it only recently stopped declaring me influential about golf. (Golf, people. Nate’s having a good laugh about that one.)
Now it seems to think I am influential about Amy Winehouse. You know why?
Because one morning this August in Spain, I caught a tweet from Russel Brandt about his gorgeous Amy Weinhouse post. I loved it, and retweeted it. Being the middle of the night in the US, that made me one of the first US people on Twitter to mention it. So it got retweeted. A lot.
So really, I’m not influential about Amy Winehouse at all. I couldn’t even name three of her songs. I just know amazing writing when I see it.
(Klout secrets! Revealed!)
It was heartening to read PR pro Liz Skeen‘s comment that she doesn’t use Klout to make decisions as a PR person. I heard the same from Stephanie Smirnov and Stephanie Azzarone in our Blogher panel this year about building better PR relationships. (Although Smirnov did cop to an addiction checking her score. Eh, I give her a pass on that.)
These are smart PR people. They are active in the space. Which means they know what I know, and what you all know: that there’s no computer software that can measure authenticity. There’s no algorithm that can tell you that Blogger A spends all day yapping on Twitter but turns out unreadable dreck on his blog every day. There’s no algorithm that tells you that blogger B fabricates dramas for attention. There’s no algorithm that tells you that blogger C has only 100 followers, but that your heart skips a bit every time you see a new post of hers pop up in your feed reader.
However what I hope most of all, is that there’s no algorithm that can tear down and destroy what we do best in the digital space–be ourselves.
If that makes me a hopelessly old-school blogger, so be it.