Do You Have Online Klout?

I barely escaped high school with my sanity. Now I have to worry about Twitter Klout?

Every year or so, it seems I have to rediscover the fact that adult life is a hell of a lot like high school. Evidence… Do you Twitter? Do you FB? Have you ever friended someone? Or friended someone who didn’t friend you? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you know what I’m talking about.

I’ve done all of these things way too many times.

Sometimes when I sign into Facebook or Twitter, I feel like I’m walking into a party–keg or cocktail, your choice–without a drink or some other convenient social lubricant. I feel shy. I feel, yes, a little scared. What if no one likes me? What if they think I say weird things? What if I don’t get the jokes? As my daughter would say, “Awkward turtle, Mom.”

At least in high school, livelihoods didn’t depend on such things. If you’re looking for a book deal, most publishers want to know about your online presence. If you blog, you need to have lots of followers. Ditto for Twittering. And your website? How many hits does it get per day/per week/per month? Unofficially, to be relevant one needs to be ready with the bon mots, snarky snipes, fascinating statistics links, funny photographs. Or you just have to be really famous already. People you’ve never met must, must, must want to RT (that’s retweet) all the clever things that you say. Up to now, it’s all been pretty theoretical. Publishers just wanted you to have a website. Maybe a blog. Now, both agents and editors are tweeting, too. They know.

And here’s the thing: It’s all getting quantifiable.

There are many digital sticks out there, but I’ve only been brave enough to use one: Klout.

What does it all mean? Well, technically, not a whole lot. But it sure looks official, doesn’t it?
Klout scores a client on one of four quadrants. Connector, persona, casual, or climber.
Last week, I had a score of 32 and was in the “casual” quadrant. Casuals have some friends they like to hang out and chat with.  My friend J.T. Ellison, I learned, is a “persona.” I think the persona description says that you’re a famous person or well on your way to being famous. (She is on her way, and deservedly so. Not because she twitters, though, but because she writes a heck of a novel.) So, being the competitive monster that I am, I said, “Hey, I want a better score, Klout! What do I do?”
The answer was–I’ll paraphrase–get famous people to follow you; give people new links to visit and pertinent information; stay engaged in the conversation; say things that will get retweeted. Ah, okay. And I should probably put up a semi-nude phone pic of myself and offer free stuff and hang out in the smoking area and share my cigarettes and have really cool parties, too? (I added that part myself.)
As a friend, Klout is really encouraging, and when your score goes up it tells you what a good job you’re doing. I like that! I love being encouraged. But there’s a flip side. A score can go down, too. I’ve been working so hard on keeping mine up this week, I haven’t seen how Klout reacts. Now I’m tempted.
Here’s the thing that really freaks me out. Like typical high school dramas, it all plays out mostly in our heads. If everyone decides a number like this is important, it will become important. That is, if you subscribe to the axiom that if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it’s the truth. This is scary.
For a writer, Twitter and FB time can be a kind of dynamite. Powerful, but if you play with it too much, it will blow your hands off.
This week, while both anticipating and recovering from a root canal, I worked on my Klout score instead of working on my novel revision. This is bad. I worked reasonably hard (within the bounds of good taste, of course) to get the attention of some folks with huge follow numbers. They paid no attention, of course. Then I watched as one bestselling writer I admire got a twitter response from @officialhgrant (Hugh Grant). I could feel the sparkly shimmer reach throughout her universe and into mine, and I turned green with envy. (I just know she’s a persona. I’m not even going to look. She is a lot of fun to follow, I admit.)
I’m exhausted. I’ll never be followed by @neilhimself, @andylevy, @ditavonteese or @stephenfry. I was never one of the popular kids. I’m always trying too hard, I know. One of my persona friends told me that the trick is to just not care.
You know, that’s just what my mom said. *sigh*

2 thoughts on “Do You Have Online Klout?”

  1. AnswerGirl says:

    You know what I say about this. One more piece of evidence that Twitter is the literal devil! And nowhere near as interesting as the devil usually is in fiction.

  2. carmar76 says:

    I just can’t get into Twitter. Too much RTing clutters up statuses. And the ppl I don’t care as much about are the ones who tweet the most often, meaning I never see the updates for ppl I really like. (I could delete those, I know, but every once in awhile Alyssa Milano has something interesting to say!) I’m much more active on FB, where you get much more information. After you’ve “hidden” all those goofy game status updates, of course!

    : )

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