A little rant on the ‘scoring’ of social media users…

As a social media marketer, I fully understand the need for metrics, measurement and analysis, which tools such as Klout provide.  However, I’m starting to find that the rapid permeation of ‘scoring’ / ‘worth’ into individual social media use through sites such as Empire Avenue is proving detrimental to social experience.

For me, as an individual user of social media, the beauty of platforms such as Twitter has always been the ability to share, engage, connect and converse.  As an individual, I’ve networked, discovered new friends, shared resources, assisted people’s queries and had several answered of my own.

The trend in gamification has also been enjoyable – tools such as Foursquare and Yelp! have blurred the lines between online and offline even further, with location-based applications also enhancing digital ‘community’ experience.

But for me, turning social media into a scoring system runs the very real risk of turning social media into a virtual playground, where the ‘cool’ kids hobnob in cliques and strut around puffing their chests out because they have a ‘high score’.

Social media is ever-evolving, but fundamentally, it remains about engagement, interaction and relationships.  Empire Avenue is another recent classic example of how some users are developing over-inflated opinions of themselves, as their daily ‘stock’ fluctuates along with their egos!

I’m not hypocritical – I’ve checked my own Klout score and even had a go on Empire Avenue (which I have subsequently deleted)!  But for me, social media is about ENGAGAING with people; holding discussions and building human relationships in a virtual world.

Yes; as a social media marketer, metrics such as Klout influence are valuable and necessary markers of performance from a branded social media perspective.  They help to illustrate ROI and your position against competing businesses – I use them professionally and they assist me immensely.

But as an individual?  I couldn’t give two hoots whether 3 million people you’ve never met are ‘investing’ in you because you have a high score.

I’d much rather engage with real people about real things.

</rant>

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5 responses to “A little rant on the ‘scoring’ of social media users…

  1. Callum, good post.
    I want to shake you and say “don’t take these things too seriously, pal”!! – but I can’t because on the broader landscape, you are so right.

    The trend towards putting genuine personal value on a Social media scoring system, even on a game like Empire Avenue, is disturbing for sure. I have been asked for Klout scores by clients as a representation of suitability for certain social media communication and community management roles – if I’m honest – I understand the partial value of that. But it CANNOT tell the whole story of a user, and it cannot be assumed that everyone uses Social Media personally or professionally for the same purpose.

    So, yes – I agree with your concerns – but I still cringe at the prospect of anyone taking these so seriously that it affects how genuine they are as a person, or equally that it so affects other users such as yourself.

  2. Yes, agree as well 🙂 I only use social media to engage, share, learn and connect with likeminded people – regardless of their followers or klout scores etc. People should just engage naturally online without hidden agendas.

  3. Well said Callum.

    What clarifies it for me is things like Laurrie Reuttiman’s cat – @misterscrubby has a high klout score!

    He may well be a great cat, but come on………influence ??

    Andy

  4. Thanks for the comments. I’ve also been attracting some conflicting opinions with this on Twitter itself, naturally! The main premise of this has been people stating that people and brands on social media are the same thing, which I believe they are not.

    Yes, we encourage brands to ‘be’ personable; we can utilise brand advocates and we all know that ‘real’ people pull the strings behind social media accounts. However, brands / businesses are fundamentally different from individual people, which is why I cite the distinction between Klout for brands (good / useful) and people (not as useful).

    @ Andy – your cat point sums it up completely!!!

  5. It’s a bit like “guru” status. I guess a simple rule should be, if you call yourself an expert, guru or such you should be ignored. It is for others to define you in that way. And what worries me is that folks who get a high score on stuff like Klout or whatever, begin to believe the hype.

    I suppose it all comes down to congruence and maybe humility? Most folk I know through twitter turn out to be a true representation of themselves when I meet and get to know them. Not all – and those that don’t, well I don’t wanna know them after that experience of being let down. Sorry I’m starting to meander now so I’ll shut up – thanks for stirring my brain into gear again sir 🙂

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