Do you need information about stocks, Dow Jones, Facebook, Aaliyah or the Hobbit? Well you’ve come to the right place because I’m your girl. According to Klout, those are the Twitter topics that I have been influential on in the past two weeks. Sure, why not? I can see where they got the stock market one:
@LMokaba: So glad my money isn't tied up in stocks, but rather high interest credit cards and loans.
So based on that tweet, and my credit report (not shown), I’m probably the last person you should listen to on these topics.
The other ones aren’t too far off; I do tweet about J.R.R. Tolkien a lot (as well as being single – I’m sure the two are unrelated).
But how does Klout find these topics? Is my coworker Francy really influential on France, just because her name is Francy? (Answer: No. Her name is very misleading. She doesn’t even speak French.) Does Linda really influence people about the apostrophe? How much does Jim really know about cats?
I used my above-average Google skills and I came up with this: Klout generates this list by semantically analyzing the content you create and the resulting responses. Your most influential topics are not those topics you talk about the most, but those that you get the most engagement on. If someone has influenced you on a topic you can give them +K (link to +K help topic) on their Topics page. If one of your topics doesn't feel right to you, you can remove it in your own topics tab.
So there you have it, you could tweet something completely untrue and everyone could say, “You have no idea what you’re talking about,” but since they’re engaging, you’re influential. Fool proof.
Back in March, Beth interviewed Klout’s Joe Fernandez to talk about exactly what influence means, the difference between online and offline influence and the like. The team at Klout is constantly reworking the algorithms to try and develop the best measure of online influence. I definitely give them credit for being able to score influence in terms of reach and network, but it seems less reliable for knowing what a person is really reaching out to say.
So what’s the best way to find influence? For me, the manual process of checking out conversations on your own is the way to go, at least for now. Groundbreaking advice, I know. Following people who have interesting opinions on topics that you care about and unfollowing those who don’t. Easy. Not quick, but easy.
But somehow, I feel like that’s been lost.
The bout for Klout and never-ending doling of advice can make your Twitter stream feel more like a fire hose. ("You get to drink from...the fire hose!")
And while many wear their “Thought Leader” badges with pride (I’m looking at you, Scott Montminy), at the end of the day, it’s important to be social on social networks. If you look at Twitter as just part of your job, or a place to push your views on punctuation, you’re going to miss out on what makes it fun. Trust me. (Just not with your portfolio.)