A few days ago, my good friend Joe Ruiz (@SMSJoe) asked me a question. He asked me how I stay connected with everyone that I do. It’s a question I get now and then. As serendipity would have it, the answer plays perfectly into this weekend’s #usblogs theme, which is how to improve Klout offline.
A bit about Klout
Klout seems to be the topic that won’t die. I am as guilty as everybody. I’ve written about my distaste for the whole concept of Klout, I’ve done a presentation exploring Klout with a more unbiased approach, and now I’m doing this post. Just this week, Mark Schaefer quoted an excellent exploration of Klout from the Boston Globe, Trey Pennington wrote a satirical post about things that are wrong with Klout, and Mack Collier wrote a post taking off on Trey’s post.
That’s a lot of content – and this is by no means an exhaustive search.
Here’s the main thing that bothers me about Klout. Despite all arguments to the contrary, it seems that Klout scores rise the more you tweet. Icing on that cake is how often you get retweeted. I’ve been taking a bit of time off Twitter over the last week or so, and my Klout score (I just checked) has dropped 3 points. In essence, to the point of the #usblogs theme, to get klout, simply being online is a good start.
I have a problem with that.
It’s about real connections
I don’t want to downplay the importance of Twitter for today’s online marketers and business people. It’s immensely important, not to mention pretty darned fun and interesting a lot of the time. But (and to quote Pee Wee Herman, everyone has a big but), you find that the more you get connected on a real basis with people, the less you center your communications on Twitter.
A lot of my communicating with people now happens on their blog sites, on my blog site, in emails, on Facebook, on the phone, or all kinds of other places. We wave to each other in the stream, but if you were to judge my relationships with some of my best buddies, like Suzanne Vara and Maya Paveza, merely by what you see in the Twitter stream, you would probably not think there was much going on there.
That is really how I stay connected with people, and I think that’s how people stay connected to me as well. It’s really not a conscious thing for me. I have been fortunate enough to build relationships via Twitter that I truly care about, so following up with that person is a pleasure, not something I check off of a checklist. Does that connection mean that we support each others’ blog posts? Sure. Does that mean that we tweet each other when we can? Yep. But Twitter – the thing Klout measures most – that’s not where the heart of the online world is headed. To me, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the online world – that’s your really nice car. But you’ve got to be going somewhere exciting for it to be truly worthwhile in the end.
Building Klout offline
Klout emphasizes what it calls “influence,” which has become a tired and controversial buzz word in this space. In my experience and in watching other people who just continue to grow and blossom online, influence is a side effect – a happy coincidence. It’s the relationships and what you do to keep and grow those relationships that really matter. It’s reading a post for someone before they publish it. It’s promoting someone’s e-book to help them out. It’s checking on someone who seems down. All of the things that Klout can’t touch and doesn’t try to touch are what matter the most to me. It may not all be offline, but it’s out of the range of Klout’s radar.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your take!
Image by Franque de Win. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Franque