Full disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book for free by the publisher.
And more disclosure: Mark Schaefer once featured a mini-ebook I did on his blog.
I reviewed Mark Schaefer’s first book, The Tao of Twitter, here.
I really liked it. It inspired me.
So I was going into this book prepared to like it.
First off, I will say this book is well written.
It also has a good section on Mike Stelzner’s ideas for how to get more traffic to your blog.
And what to write about. This is my favorite part.
The thing I don’t like about this book is it reads like an advertisement for the Klout brand.
There are quotes throughout the book, that strike me as odd, namely, almost every chapter heading talks about Klout, and one person actually says, “If my Klout score ever goes below 50, I’m going to slap myself. No excuses! #klout”
This strikes me as kind of sad.
Klout is an easily gamed website, something that the book admits. If you buy 25,000 twitter followers, you can easily have a high “klout” score. A lot of the social scoring tools don’t truly tell you who is influential. It’s up to you to actually go out there, try to engage an influencer, or at least someone who “looks” influential, and see how many times your message is tweeted, or shared, or how your “likes” go up.
One thing the book doesn’t address is that the real measure of how much you’ll succeed in selling your products with your influencer outreach is if you can get them to write a dedicated email about you to their massive list. I do believe in bottom-line social media metrics. Something this book is short on.
To identify influencers, I prefer to install the SEObook toolbar when looking to see who is an influencer. if a person has a lot of backlinks, it makes me think they have a high degree of influence.
I contacted Mr. Schaefer about this, and told him of my disappointment with the book. He said that backlinks can also be gamed. It’s true, I admit. A lot of the “influence” numbers we tend to depend on can be gamed. Whether it’s Klout, PeerIndex, Sproutsocial or Tweetgrader, there’s always a way to make yourself seem more influential than you are. How many retweets do you get? And what’s the point of that? Are you really going to reach interested buyers this way?
This graph above, for example, has me listed as a higher influencer than Beth Kanter, who has 500,000 followers to my measly 3,000. I wasn’t trying to game the system. It just shows me this way. It even shows me as almost as influential as Mr. Schaefer, who has WAY more followers than I do.
And Klout just keeps you on this treadmill. Gotta raise my Klout score! I could win a prize! I could be “important” like the other important people! It has this illusion of democracy. Or a caste system. Which the book, to its credit, does address.
How influential am I?
How can I gain more “Klout?”
According to Tweet Grader, I have an influence score of 97%. Does that mean when I tweet about your brand or cause, you’re going to get lots of donations, or clicks, or mentions, or retweets? Nope. It just means I’ve done all of the right things for this particular scoring mechanism.
Sure, Mr. Schaefer talks about all of the “perks” you can get with Klout, like a free flight, or a special airport lounge, but so what? Mr. Schaefer talks about a graphic designer named Calvin Lee who spends every 5 minutes tweeting, and the perks he gets from Klout. What he doesn’t say is does Mr. Lee actually get more graphic design business? Can he charge more for his services? We don’t know.
You can see that even though I have favorable scores on these platforms, I’m not suggesting that you use them. And I’m not suggesting that you believe them either.
Why? Because I knew a woman who was named a Forbes 100 most influential women on Twitter, who had over 50,000 followers, and who was having a hard time supporting herself financially. She had a lot of followers, but when she tried to throw a tweetup in her own town, nobody came. Her followers were scattered all over the world. And they didn’t retweet or care about her. She didn’t grow her email list at all. Now she’s off social media completely, and writing a series about digital exhaustion.
Personally, I have found that high social media engagement and influence can be seen as a negative in a job interview situation. When I was looking for work a couple of years ago, I went into an interview and proceeded to try to tell the interviewers how I could help them, especially with my social media activity, not to mention years of experience in the field. They ended up going with someone else, and their last comment to me before I walked out the door was, “You’re certainly into yourself.”
Maybe it’s different with tech companies versus nonprofits, but I think people with high social media scores are not always winning when they make a big deal about how connected they are.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t reach out to influencers. I think you should. I think this is a valuable activity for your business and your brand. But I don’t think you should measure who can have the biggest impact on your brand by the number of followers or likes they have. You should measure it by how big their email list is. And this is something that Klout cannot measure.
If you want to raise your Klout score, this book is definitely for you. If you would rather focus on making money for your business, then get another book.