By now you've no doubt heard of Klout, that magic mumbo jumbo number that condenses your social media influence into one simple number. Everyone with a Twitter account has a Klout score (even you!) and you can easily kill a hour or so checking out people's scores. It's essentially a way to compare your manhood without the awkward part where you have to take off your pants.
People either love it or hate it, and here's the dirty little secret: they're both right.
On the one hand, it's completely worthless. My score went up when I added my Facebook page, and it fluctuates based on how much I tweet in a given rolling time frame, even though any idiot knows that just because you don't tweet for a couple of days, doesn't mean your influence has gone down. People have longer memories than that.
Also, there's the problem where you can compare the numbers and realize they're just flat-out wrong. For example, I have a higher score than Sheri Candler. I am not more influential than Sheri. I doubt I ever will be. The fact that I have a higher score than her is idiotic to the nth degree.
So it's completely worthless, then. Moving on. Except that it isn't.
It's also really important.
More and more every day, influence and importance isn't dictated by how smart or insightful or helpful you are. That helps, sure, but it plays second fiddle to the general perception of how other people view you.
Think about it. You hear from someone that Phil Holbrook is a taste maker. You have no idea who that is. Are you going to spend 5 hours researching him? Of course not. You're going to Google him. You're going to look at his Twitter account. And you might check him out around the web. One of those places could be Klout. And if you aren't checking it out on Klout, then be assured that other people are. And to them, the Klout score will mean a lot. Phil is a 50, which is pretty good, but it's lower than Sheri, which is lower than mine. So that person will assume the ranking is Me --> Sheri --> Phil, when in fact it's more like Sheri --> Phil --> Me. Think of it this way: it's kind of like your Twitter ratio, only without the math.
And, sure, someone will figure out your real influence anyway. But maybe they won't. People are busy. A super easy metric like Klout is a pretty lazy way to figure something out.
Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.