The klout of social media - by Robert Lavigne

The klout of social media – by Robert Lavigne

Stephen King once said that he gets paid to write about his nightmares. I awoke on a cold morning from a nightmare myself and it spawned this article. It was not a nightmare about ghouls, demons or zombies. It was a nightmare about celebrity status and cursed egos.

In the nightmare, the production team was waiting with growing anxiety. The writers were making last minute changes to the script. The lighting crew was casting the perfect light. Everybody was eager to make this celebrity shine under their professional gaze. The celebrity, however, was outside having a smoke simply to make a point. “They can wait,” he said, “I am the real star of this show, let them wait.”

On March 2, 2012, I attended the Canadian premiere of a new documentary about Twitter called Twittamentary. The screening was hosted by the Personal Computer Museum at the Wilfrid Laurier Research & Academic Centre. The PC Museum made history on February 20, 2010 by sending a Tweet using a vintage Commodore VIC-20. The Twitter documentary explored the lives and bonds of the interconnected community that make up this real-time social net-work.

After the show, I was invited to have a few beers with some of the local tweeps (folks on twitter) that make up the social media landscape of the area. As we were walking to the bar, one jokingly said that the one with the highest klout score had to buy the first round. To many, klout still remains an inside baseball term. For those within the twitter community, klout is perceived as a measure of influence on the social media landscape. Having a high klout score is supposed to come with social influence (klout), and in this case, social responsibility (beer).

As we compared our klout scores, many in the group already knew I had the highest klout score in the city. Being a recent immigrant to Brant- ford from Toronto, that was not necessarily a hard thing for me to achieve. Toronto is rather large and it can be easier there to plug into social networks. However, in our midst was another out-of-towner with fifteen times (+40,000) more followers than I have. He would clearly have a higher klout score than mine and the contents of my wallet would be safe. To our surprise he did not have a higher score than me and a lengthy debate over the merits of the klout algorithms and connected network activity ensued. You can check it for yourself at

When all is said and done, my high klout score has given me plenty of perks. I have been invited to attend media night premieres of theatre releases and stage productions. I have been given complimentary passes to major event launch parties and sporting events. I have partied hard, ate bacon, and drank Jack and Coke with the cast of Epic Meal Time. I have been to conferences to see the likes of Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, Guy Kawasaki and many other notables for the price of a blog entry. I have also recently been asked to be a panel speaker at Tweetstock 007 mostly based on my social influence. But what does all that klout matter? I am writing this post in my minimally heated basement studio. It is the tail end of a Canadian winter and it is cold. The wind outside is howling from the tornadoes currently flattening farm land south of me in the United States. I live in a city with a high unemployment rate, a high poverty rate, and a high homelessness rate. It is cold, windy and did I mention a Canadian winter. All I wanted this morning was a warm shower without thinking about the increase to my hydro bill.

All the klout and celebrity status in the world means nothing. NADA! Many may use it as an excuse to flaunt their perceived power over others. Many renowned singers have gone from touring with the greats to living in a car. Many A-list celebrities have lost it all in the search for the new high and quick fix. Many high-falutin’ business folks have seen their $50 burgers and $200 steaks being replaced by a Big Mac they can only afford with a coupon in this economy. Status is an illusion that can disappear as quickly as a new influence algorithm is coded.

I gave up all the big lights and big money of the big city. My story has been more of a riches-to- rags experience in humility than a rags-to-riches promise of wealth. I moved to this city because I knew I could do social good by bringing my knowledge and experience to a city that needed it. While I may have brought along a high klout score with me in the process, it is not my klout score than matters to those in need of a better life and economy. Those with real power and influence have a responsibility to leave their egos at the door and focus on those who wish to work with them for a better tomorrow.

I recently drove into Toronto for an executive meeting in a fancy boardroom with expensive artwork and impressive accolades adorning their walls. The high rise view was stellar and it left a lasting impression for all the wrong reasons. You see, they laughed out loud when I informed them that I drove in from Brantford for this face- to-face meeting. I was reminded that many still perceive this city for all the negative sentiments associated with it. They still see Brantford as the Telephone City of wires, steel, and retired hockey greats. I recently read a tweet that described Brantford as the skid mark of Ontario.

Well I see this city for what it truly is and what it is destined to become. I often refer to this vision for Brantford as Telephone City 2.0. In a world plagued with two hour commutes and escalating fuel costs, the future of Brantford is clear. This city is destined to become the hub for telecommuting in Southern Ontario. What better place than Brantford, which made history with the first distance telephone phone call to Paris, Ontario.

What better place than Brantford to shine as a cost-effective solution for financial prosperity in the modern social economy. In a world where every tool you need to operate your business is available on the Internet often for free. In a world where a single tweet can land you a six figure contract. In a world where your collaborators span the globe. In a world where projects start off in Paris, France and finish in San Diego, California without leaving your basement studio in Brantford, Ontario.

The future is clear. Those who embrace the community lifestyle of Brantford and telecommute to the world will have the last laugh. As the high rises crumble under the weight of bureaucracy, office politics and excessive costs, the future of Brantford will shine as an example to the world. My friends with their high klout score shook their heads when I made the decision to move to Brantford. We shall collectively remind them that Telephone City 2.0 is where the puck is going to be.

21 Replies to “The klout of social media – by Robert Lavigne”

  1. MC Wright

    Bingo…excellent article Robert. While so many furiously work to elevate scores, rankings etc…they forget it isn't real, or perhaps, it isn't as real as they perceive. We are here to experience life, community and connectivity. There is a place where all the Klout scores or Xeemee scores say something…but they don't bring happiness. only more hours of trying to raise them…In the end, you end up serving a fictitious number, rather than have the number serve you.

    Just make sure you don't try to create a "Brantford" number, or that too will evaporate into the sea of other ideas.

  2. Technospunky blah blah blogging around the internet

    CHEERS! I loved this article – you are Spot On. – I will have to share this of course and hope more people will realize there is more to social media then hit and miss. I wish you and #Brantford all the best. If I can assist in your venture to make the world a better place one Brantford at a time.. Let me know. I will tweet – share – pin..yada yada. 🙂 Thanks for posting. ~Technospunky

  3. Nicolas Liu

    My score dropped 20 points when Klout changed its algorithm in 2011 and came back in recent weeks. I did not change my online pattern. The only difference is that I joined EA. So, could I say EA does the trick?

  4. Janis La Couvée

    Robert – thanks for the excellent post.

    As a result of all the "ego-boosting" that was happening in 2011, I have un-coupled from most influence measurement tools. I joined social networks to create community, online and off; to strengthen connections, existing and to come – not to build celebrity status for myself.

    Social media has changed my life, and continues to afford me many opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I work hard to use what little influence I have to build a better community for all, and to highlight people and enterprises that might otherwise go unnoticed.

    You're correct about the ability to work from anywhere – one of the best tech writers in Canada lives on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, a good 4 hours from Victoria.

    Let's celebrate our differences, rather than trying to point out that we are "better" than someone else.

    Warm regards,


  5. Mary

    I am still in the learning phase
    This is all brand new to me
    So I am getting a 101 course in all of this
    Thank you for the great info

  6. @RaphaelLove

    I have also seen a drop in my scores recently. However, I am an influencer and I see that the algorithm seems to be based somewhat on an survey inside of the Klout account that compares influence between pairs of connected individuals. I believe that it could be skewed if you dont do a lot of interaction with everyone that you are connected to and scores can suffer. We shall see over time if Kred has the ability to gain ground during this "adjustment"

  7. detart

    Robert, great article which remind us, that internet and collaboration enables us to live where ever we like to live – as we need only internet and a great neighbourhood to live….

    …I see similar activity here in Europe, a we can work from where ever the net is. There is no reason to queue into the city every morning in a traffic jam for one or two hours…


  8. lastbabyboomer

    Let me start off by saying I am not a social media person. I had a business back in the early 80’s and if computers went away I would still have a business. That being said my current klout score continues to amaze me.
    I will admit that before I started to read I popped on over to Klout and checked my score. I found that it had dropped .05. The killer part of this is that slight drop brings me from 63.50 to 63.45. This is huge (well maybe not) as it drops my public number from 64 to 63.
    What does all this mean to me? Absolutely nothing to my bottom line. I spend no more than an hour a day on social media so my question is why is my score what it is? This fact I feel lends some credibly to klouts methodology. My score is not a reflection of how much I tweet or how many cat photos or quotes I post to Facebook. It attempts to quantify how many people I reach and or interact with.
    Oh and by the way where are all my perks!!

    • @RLavigne42

      I have found that the best perks were not those that came from my klout score, but from the community I have fostered through engaging with those who engage with me. If klout gives me a higher score for that, so be it, but at the end of the day, the people that truly matter are those who will help you when the chips are down.

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