I have watched some debates online about the potential importance of a Klout score or other social influencer scores in the future. For those of you who do not know, Klout is a scoring system used to grade your “influence” online. My concern is that with any of these scores initially, there is potential for the system to be gamed. Whether these scores will ever be a true mark of influence is still up for debate.
But more interesting than the actual score is the concept of an influencer score. Is this something that is a good thing? How would we use it? Would companies use this to determine who to give better treatment to? Would companies then get one as well based on reviews and customer feedback?
This topic got into my head because I recalled a conversation where a friend told me how he was talking to an online support team trying to resolve an issue he was having with his computer. This occurred pre-Klout, but what happened applies to the discussion.
My friend was getting frustrated at their lack of attention to his problem. He felt he was getting the runaround and no one seemed to be able to fix his problem or give him some feedback on when it could be fixed. He escalated the issue to a supervisor, who was extremely attentive and my friend felt better that at least things were moving forward. While on the phone, he heard the supervisor, who apparently had not muted his phone, admonished the other saying, “Do you see who that is? How many followers he has?”
Needless to say his problem was resolved quickly, but the incident was so striking that he related it to me a few years after the fact.
What stuck with me was that even prior to these so-called influencer scores, these folks understood that a bad experience with someone who had a lot of social followers could be pushed across Internet forums and platforms potentially impacting business. If we now change the conversation where they recognize Klout score and change behavior accordingly, will this just lead us back to service based on preference?
Remember how social media and the web were going to free us and liberate us because we had the ability to impact business and their service levels? Is all of this scoring focus going to cause more social media anxiety? If a company sees you have a low Klout score, there becomes the potential to not care because who will you tell, and, more importantly, what impact will it have?
I have discussed this argument with others and some feel that the scores will never have that influence because they are not universally embraced. My response is that when enough people embrace them, it will have an effect. People initially did not embrace many things we use online today. I caution that focusing on scoring people for influence, other than a gaming function, will in turn fragment the online population into the haves and have nots, which we already get too much of that in our offline life.
Let me know your thoughts.