Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Klout and Occupation

Basics of Klout
I've been meaning to write a post on Klout for a while. Jon Perry wrote a very nice blog post at The Decline of Scarcity on the topic after Wired wrote an article about Klout. The basic idea of Klout is that the provide a metric for ones influence in social media. Some people love the idea while others hate it. The Wired article shows that however you might feel about it, some places are definitely starting to use it. I also feel that Jon Perry did a great job of describing why Klout, or something like it, could very well become a significant metric in the future. In a world where material goods are abundant, the attention of people will be one of the few scarce resources. That scarcity will give it value. If an individual can command a fair bit of attention from others, that implicitly will give him/her a certain value.

Of course, we don't live in a world yet where physical goods are abundant. That doesn't mean that commanding attention on social media is without value. Indeed, if you put yourself in the shoes of a marketer, there is tremendous value in knowing who different people listen to on different topics. Instead of pitching to everyone, you can focus on the people who can complete the pitch for you and get others to listen. The companies that are giving Klout perks today are the ones who realize this and who want to see what value they can extract from it.

Your Job Today and your Klout
An idea that I haven't seen discussed in other locations, but which weighs heavily on my mind is how occupation impacts Klout. This idea hit me because of a comment I saw on an earlier discussion of Klout. The commentor said that he was too busy doing things to spend the time posting on social networks that might gain him Klout. This strikes me as a very valid comment. There are certain jobs which will not lend themselves to a high Klout. Indeed, that is probably true for most jobs. People in those jobs can still achieve a high Klout, but they must do it on their own time.

I actually spend a fair bit of time on social media. I also spend a lot of time working to keep up on current technology. In my mind the two are both related to my job and to one another. That vast majority of people I interact with through social media are current or former students. As my job is to help prepare students to enter the world in ~4 years, I feel I need to have some idea of what is coming down the pipeline for that time. Much of my activity on the social media is in the form of sharing thoughts and interesting articles with those current and former students.

In other words, there are aspects of my job description which naturally lead to me having an increased Klout score. I can think of other occupations where that would be even more true. People in PR and marketing could virtually live in social media these days, experimenting with new approaches to reaching out to people. On the other hand, I can see most of my students going into jobs where they will have a low Klout score unless they go out of their way to boost it. Their jobs will focus on producing code, not distributing knowledge on how code is produced.

What do you think? Is this link between occupation and likely Klout score a fundamental problem with Klout or does it mean that Klout really does measure what it is supposed to?