Are “reputation” scores a waste of time or simply misunderstood?

Every time some tool come out that brags about being able to rank influence and reputation, people immediately jump on it as bunk or as a sign of narcissism and a lack of real priorities– of course, those same people jumping on the tools and clumsily Tweeting out their scores (whoops!) is purely ”research” (right?).

Klout is an interesting tool that has got attention lately- and been getting bashed a little too (but it must be pretty good because my score isn’t particularly high- yes, I did “research”). A more elegant debunking comes from Edward Boches at his Creativity Unbound blog, where he says he won’t rely on Klout or similar scores to hire social media strategists. He then lays out a lot of excellent traits to look for that may or may not affect an influence score.

Should we disregard these scores then? No, but we shouldn’t rely on them for real “influence” either, as that exists both in and outside of social media. However:

  • Comparative scores can help people decide which online “influencers” are worth paying more attention to vs others in a chosen set;
  • Comparing your own- or a client’s- score over time as it rises (or.. um,  rises- our clients never regress) can help you decide if things you are trying are working;
  • If you are keeping a clear head about what these numbers mean (that is, they don;t mean everything), you can use them in a pinch if you are short on time, or combine them with your own analysis to confirm your thinking

People work hard creating these tools– often, they are good for something, though as Edward says, probably not a good sole indicator of hirability.