Does Klout have any clout?

"Facebook Status Bar indicating Social engagement"Today’s post was supposed to be some ‘how to’ tips about optimizing visual elements like pictures and videos for search engines.  But truth to be told I’m too excited about some recent news to settle in and focus on writing something as serious as real SEO tips, so I thought I’d have some fun with one of my topics which is social media power and influence.

Before I jump into the post, I’ll share my exciting news.  I’ve found an awesome venue for my next SEO Workshop.  I’ve made arrangements with the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce to use their new training room for my upcoming April and June classes.  Even more exciting, we’re going to co-promote some smaller workshops on a variety of topics.  I love collaboration!

Now on to the topic at hand.

One of my LinkedIn groups is having a somewhat lively conversation about the topic of social scorecards.  The discussion started off with the question, “Does Klout really have any clout?” and the flood gates opened.  In a matter of minutes we had a variety of opinions expressed and definitions given. Before it’s all said and done, we’ll most likely cover all of the platforms that are trying to emerge in this space.

As you might guess the opinions ranged from neutral to passionately in favor of the concept of a way to measure social influence.  A week or so ago I wrote a post called “Klout Makes me Pout,” which might lead one to think that I fall in the camp of Klout haters, which really isn’t the case at all.  At the time I wrote the post, I would have defined my feelings about Klout as neutral.  Not a total believer in it, but not willing to ignore it either.

Mark Schaefer (in my opininon, one of the best social media mentors out there) has  written a couple of posts that are causing a paradigm shift in my world.  The first one was an interview with  Klout CEO Joe Fernandez. The interview was a sneak peek at Klout’s future plans. but what jumped out at me was Joe’s observation that the internet is evolving from being “page centric” to “people centric.”

A light bulb went off.  This is where search engine optimization and social media marketing intersect.  As an SEO instructor and consultant, I teach people how to optimize the pages on their website so they will be found by Google and Bing.  As a long time customer experience professional, I incorporate a people or customer-centric point of view to the training. As my knowledge and experience with social media grows, it’s becoming crystal clear that the description of the internet becoming “people centric” is dead on and is why social networks have become such a great way for people to share content.

It doesn’t seem like it  will ever make sense for search engines to display a 140 character tweet about a post or web page rather than a link to the actual page, but it’s clear that they are finding ways to make search results more people-centric.  Bing is incorporating Klout, and based on the number of photos I see on search results pages these days, it looks like Google Authorship is quickly gaining traction.

Previously I considered Google+ authorship as a way to help pages or content get found, but I think it’s bigger than that.  It’s also about helping people identify authors and find content from resources they trust enough to have put them in their circles.  It’s another example of how companies are innovating to humanize the web.

Mark’s second post on the topic, Reflections on social media power and influence,  made my paradigm shift even further. I think he summed it all up for me with one sentence “Here is what a Klout/Kred/PeerIndex score provides: An indicator of a person’s relative ability to create content that elicits online sharing and reactions.”

It was clear from the interview that the folks at Klout are well aware of the fact that they need correlate Klout scores with true influence, which includes credibility, and not how many cute cat pictures someone posts. There are some definite signs that things are moving in that direction.

The other day I was prompted to answer some questions about blogging and internet marketing, which are two of the topics associated with my profile. I answered the questions and I’m not certain what happens next, but it’s a clear signal that there are efforts underway to tie experience and influence factors together in a meaningful way.

What I think will be most interesting is to see what happens to folks that have amassed a large fan base of people that isn’t engaged, especially if the reason they’re not engaged is because they could care less about the content.  I can think of pages I’ve liked because I thought I was helping someone out, but I didn’t have a genuine interest.  It’s not that they are creating bad content, I’m just not their true audience.

Does Klout have any clout? I guess time will tell whether or not it actually does, but if you aren’t already doing so, I think it’s time to start paying more attention and at a minimum evaluate it with an open mind.