Klout lists cool, helpful, but smack of Jr. High?

KloutLogoIt’s no secret I’m a fan of Twitter Lists, I use them for listening to groups of people I value and for topics likes news and politics. They are also a great shortcut to finding quality people and seeing who others recommend. A few days ago Klout released a feature to import twitter lists and this is my first foray into that function.

Exploring and building

The basics are straight forward. Log into Klout, visit your dashboard and look for the import twitter list button. Klout will import any public twitter list you created.

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First, I wanted to see the influence and reach of people on my politics and infosec lists. It’s interesting to see not only the scores but also the topics associated with different accounts.

Next I built a Little Rock locals list. I’m always looking for a way to provide others with a shortcut to get plugged into twitter in Central Arkansas and lists are a good answer. Here’s how I built it:

  • I used Formulists to build a dynamic list of everyone I follow that has Little Rock, Conway, or Central Arkansas as their location in their twitter profile.
  • I imported that list to Klout.

Now let’s get to the reason behind writing about this list…

2011-08-31_1250Perception and Usefulness

Why build a list for Little Rock? Is it useful?

I think so, it encourages connections and gives insight in to community activity. If you are new to Little Rock or new to Twitter you can easily discover some of the most active or listened to people in the area.

Klout also shows topics and allows you to see explore who someone influences or is influenced by. With some time you could really mine a network this way.

So what’s the problem?

Influence ranking feels like a Junior High popularity contest.

Influence is Analog (IRL)

I like @amybhole and @cottonr, both are close friends but depending on your perspective, interests, and sense of humor they may not be the first people you would want to follow. They top the list but following them (or me for that matter) if you are new to twitter is a good way to get overwhelmed.

Klout scores just aren’t all that indicative of “true” influence. Take @johnwhardin for example. His score is almost 25-30 points lower than the top of the list but I can tell you for a fact that guy is one of the first you’d want to follow. He is genuine, kind, and is truly listened to. I have the unique perspective of being a loud mouth that is still invited to quiet discussions on porches and DMs and I can tell you that if I gained 100,000 followers I wouldn’t carry the weight of John’s words.

Why? He has real influence. It can’t be measured in metrics of clicks and RTs.

Influence is subjective.

One more example – My wife and pastor (@wymanrichardson) have scores in the mid 20’s but there are only 2 people that I subscribe to their tweets as text messages. Care to take a guess?

They have real influence in my life.

What my list can’t tell you is most of the people in the 40’s score range are the heart and soul of my twitter community.

Conclusions

I think these lists are useful when viewed with the proper perspective. They can be informed connection points but the score is an arbitrary number they doesn’t reflect a person’s real influence.

In the end the entire list is people I follow and without exposing my private lists that is about the best recommendation I can give.

By the way, @Klout if you are listening I’d love to import a private list and keep it private.

Your Turn

Is the list useful enough to leave it up? Does it encourage connecting or feel too much like a popularity contest?

Also take a look at @mqtodd’s article on using Klout lists, really great ideas.

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