Return on Influence? What about Return on Poetry?

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve recently become fascinated by all the various sites that are trying to measure influence. It seems like every several months, there is a new site popping up to boast about how they can measure influence. First, I received an invitation to Klout and then signed up for Kred. Then along come Empire Avenue and more recently I’ve been dabbling in Influenster.

Frankly, I’m so confused. My confusion lies not in which back-end algorithm is the best or which site is more transparent, but what is the purpose of measuring our online influence? Will brands like your page more (nope), will people follow you more (nope), will you receive requests from people trying to game their influential scores (yep).

The Product Poet’s Klout Score and Kred Score as of May 30, 2013

As you can see in my scores above, a 74 Klout score and an 801 Kred score. According to Klout, the average Klout score is 40, so to that, I say, “Kudos!” I’m above average. Cool.

My 801 Kred score seems relatively high as as well and according to the “Rules of Kred” Influence section, less than 0.1% of all social media users have a Kred score over 800. To that, I say “Bravo!” Mama always said I was an over-achiever.

But I often don’t know why I receive certain things in life, but I’ve given and received +K’s (thanks @SimonVanKempen) for Klout, given and received Kred for my cred, received Eaves from Empire Avenue for performing missions, but what the heck is an Eaves anyway? As depicted in the chart below, if I had invested in myself, I may have outperformed the stock market over the last year.

Empire Avenue Social Network Share Price for The Product Poet

Perhaps you are just smarter than me and don’t really care about how influential you might be in the social media ethernet. While I know that the algorithms and scores of these influence networks are only as good as the networks that the user connects to, but what happens when brands, advertisers and even prospective employers use these scores to decide one’s social media influence?

Furthermore, are we all not just pieces of data in a big social media gamification where we are being measured for doing certain things and receiving certain perks, badges or specials.

You see, when I was a lad, I enjoyed going out for recess to the blacktop to play with my friends the game called foursquare. We’d draw our chalk lines, making four boxes and play with a slightly under-inflated rubber ball. We’d make up rules as we go. Waterfalls, catches and devils.

Today, as an adult, I enjoy playing the game foursquare. Instead of chalk lines drawn on a blacktop, it’s my mobile phone as my blacktop. We still make up the rules along the way, buy adding new locations so we can become mayors, like our own tips, make our own lists.

Eventually, my own gamification became exactly that: a game. A fun game. Only this particular game affected my online influence scores along the way. Does this make me any more influential than someone who doesn’t get the same satisfaction out of social gaming as I do? I think not.

My online “influence” is merely a by-product of my social gaming. So I’ll take my 74 Klout and 801 Kred scores, and continue my social gaming for no other reason than my own personal enjoyment.