Social Media Influence vs Online Reputation

Have you seen the tweets about Klout lately?  People are very worried and upset.  They feel used.  They feel confused.  They also feel helpless because they have no control over what seems like a big indication of their online success.  Anything that measures your influence seems like it would be important in business, but I would like to propose that you take a step back and think about a few things before you let your online influence scores ruin a perfectly good day.

There has been a heated and very interesting debate going on about whether or not you can accurately measure anyone’s online influence.  Companies like Klout, Peer Index and Tweet Grader (among a mushrooming list of other contenders) strongly believe in their measurement algorithms and metrics and they will tell you that THEIR analytics are the only true measurement of your influence…

But can anyone truly measure someone’s online influence when the very idea of social networking is that anyone can get involved, anyone can be heard and anyone can make a difference with just 1 tweet?  And more importantly, why does it matter that there are companies who measure your online influence when there are discrepancies between all of their scores?

As entrepreneurs and thought leaders, shouldn’t we be more concerned with our online reputation than a hypothetical measurement of our influence?

Months ago, when I discovered that there was a score being placed on my social media activity, I was excited at the idea of being able to compete with myself.  Now, I would be able to raise the bar and see the impact I was making.  In some ways, I thought it was an ROI for all of the time I spend connecting and engaging to attract my ideal clients. I knew that if I wasn’t attracting a new client every few weeks, I was at least able to see how my activity was impacting my online influence through this score.

And then things began to unravel…

After a few months of seeing my score dip when I wasn’t online during the weekend or when my child was sick or when I was actively working with clients or attending conferences, I realized that these measurement tools are actually NOT a good idea for entrepreneurs who want to have a social life offline.  In addition to that, these tools do not take into account who I am direct messaging with or who I am having phone conversations and then lunch with.  And on the flip side of that, how could my online influence be greater than high profile media stars like Maria Shriver, Kathy Ireland or Oprah?!

I’m flattered, but… Really?

So, I decided that my social media influence is not something that will attract clients to me, my online (and offline) reputation is.  And therefore, I believe that as lifestyle entrepreneurs who have passions and goals outside of our businesses, it does not serve us to focus on the supposed score that is placed on our social media activity.

What serves us is to know our goals and values and to build systems into our businesses that allow us to take breaks, spend time unplugged from technology to engage with our offline loved ones so we can do things that inspire us and ultimately live with purpose and meaning.  If we are so worried about keeping our online measurement scores up to maintain the illusion of success, how can we live in the real world?  How can we be making a difference for others?  And isn’t that really influence is about?

So, now I look at the measurement of my online influence as a very loose indicator of my connection with my audience.  But the score is not the end all – be all of who I am or the work that I do.  It is more like a video game that I can smile at and say… I’m more influential than Oprah.  See!  ;)

What do you think?  Is it important to know what your online influence score is?  Does this score help you to attract your ideal clients?  Or are you more focused on building a solid online reputation and doing your great work?

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