What’s your magic number? Don’t be shy, you can tell me. After all, the more openly and frankly we can discuss it the less taboo the topic, right? I’ll go first: mine was 63 the last time I checked. I never used to bother keeping track, to be honest, because I didn’t think it made much difference to who I am as a person. Apparently, though, that’s not the case, and the higher, the better.
I’m talking about Klout scores. Yep, those seemingly-meaningless Ks ‘awarded’ to your online personality on the basis of social influence.
I’ve just checked my Klout profile for the first time in some weeks to see a message telling me that a friend has given me ‘+K about IKEA’. It’s true, I have in my time waxed lyrical about the blue and yellow homeware Mecca, but usually only along the lines of ‘Yay, meatballs FTW’ or, most likely, ‘Lost in textiles. Send help.’ Do these banal musings give me any authorityon the subject of IKEA? Not even a little bit.
Klout – of its own accord and with no input from human people – also thinks I’m influential on the following topics: Cairo, Heaven, Arkansas, Skype and Gilmore Girls. Three of those are places I’ve never been to (I’m not sure I’ve even ever said the word ‘Arkansas’), one is a piece of software that I’ve used twice in the last year and the last is one of the world’s stupidest TV shows which my housemates quite like and I’ve watched for the grand total of 12 minutes (there are SEVEN seasons of it, by the way). My references to these topics online are basically non-existent, yet according to Klout, I’m in the know.
So what, right? Isn’t Klout just more dotsam and netsam floating about the internet ether, taking up space and hoarding your details after you sign in once for a laugh, never to return? Alas, no. Your magic K score is set to play a bigger role in your life than you might think.
Take, for example, news that a Florida State University professor will be grading students based on their Klout scores. Or this piece from Marketing guru Kerry Gorgone, who says that employment discrimination based on Klout scores – while illegal – does actually happen. Or my own personal experience, where for weeks I tried to get in touch with an editor at a well-known lifestyle website to pitch an idea, and after contacting an existing contributor for some advice, was told that one of the main reasons she got the job was because of her Klout score?
At the time, my Klout score was a very average 56 (or thereabouts) – pretty standard for someone who spends a fair bit of time online ranting and raving in a fashion which is occasionally deemed amusing enough for a retweet. Now though, as I said earlier, my score is 63. This coincides, I imagine, with the increased number of followers I’ve acquired of late (hello, by the way); nearly 200 over the last two weeks. And how have I acquired said followers? Through witty observations? Groundbreaking political analysis? Compelling storytelling? Maybe, but it’s more likely down to the fact that I posted that bloody picture of a mysterious Clementine, which was subsequently retweeted 1,300 times and favourited by 350 people.
Thanks to Simon and the mystery Clementine, I now have a Klout score ‘worthy’ of academia and employment – aptitude, personality and skill set be damned.
I entirely understand that ours is an age of digital living, but if we’re judging one another’s merits on the basis of an arguably flawed and intangible social metric, we might as well give up trying to be good at anything in real life, because what will it matter if it’s not reflected in the special Ks that are going to form the basis of accomplishment in the future?
Perhaps I would be less irked by this, the zeitgeist’s latest mind-boggling offering, if I at least believed there was some semblance of reliability behind the number crunching. But until Klout concedes that I know sweet FA about Heaven and can contextualise my ‘influence’ with some kind of ‘She basically just got lucky with a viral pic!’ icon, I am not convinced.