Final Analysis: Under the Influence

Someday, your Klout score will be more important than your credit score. Sigh.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Do you know your Klout score?

I used to be an 11. In the world of social media, it was appalling. On a Darwinian level, it put me somewhere between fungi and green algae.

Should anyone really care? Joe Fernandez, who founded Klout in 2008, thinks so. Last year, he told students in an MBA class at New York University: “We really believe every person that creates content online has influence. We want to understand who they influence and what they’re influential about, and reward them for that.”

The rewards Fernandez refers to—Klout calls them perks—are goodies that Klout showers upon its members to induce them to be more active in social media, so they can get even more stuff. In May, Cathay Pacific Airways opened its First and Business Class Lounge at San Francisco International Airport to Klout members with scores of 40 or higher. Nothing says influence like being able to go where the rest of the great unwashed cannot.

So here’s the drill: If you spend a lot of time telling us on Twitter what you had for lunch, or sharing on Facebook what you’re having for dinner, you can win swag from Klout.com. And your score goes up. Does this really mean anything in the grand scheme? I’m doubtful. But I’m also curious. So I joined Klout.

As noted earlier, I was an 11 at first. In Klout’s parlance, I was an “observer,” happy to hang out on the fringes of social media, keeping abreast of what’s going on but not inclined to cannonball into the deep end. Then I woke up one day and my score was a 43. (Hello, Cathay Pacific!)

I have no idea what I did to merit such a bump. I had done no cannonballing in my sleep. Hadn’t tweeted any more than usual. Didn’t post a thing on Facebook. I suspect it was simply a matter of Klout catching up with my vast network of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn friends and deciding I was worthy of sitting in a fancy airport lounge in a city where I don’t live.

As I write this, I’m still a 43. No other perks have come my way, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before there’s an Audi parked in my driveway. (Klout recently gave “key influencers” the opportunity to test drive the new Audi A8.) Turns out I’ve gone from “observer” to “networker,” which means I “know how to connect to the right people and share what’s important” to my audience. I have “a high level of engagement and an influential audience.”

I have a feeling this is a load of crêpes. (Klout served them at its Bay Area headquarters last year.) “We’re doing something that’s a lightning rod for controversy,” Fernandez told his NYU audience. “We’re putting scores next to people. I totally get why that rubs people the wrong way.”

Fernandez also gets that Americans love competition. We love to see how we rank against our friends, our foes, our families. Companies are even using Klout scores as a metric in hiring. Wired magazine reports that a guy named Sam Fiorella lost a marketing agency job to someone with a Klout score of 67 (out of 100). Fiorella’s was 34—well above the national average of 20 but obviously not good enough. So he worked to get his score up to 72 and now reports the job offers are pouring in and he’s getting lots more speaking invitations.

“Fifteen years of accomplishments,” he told Wired, “weren’t as important as that score.”

Can’t wait until we’re all caught up in this insidious web. Forty-three out.

JOHN LEVESQUE is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine.

Final Analysis: Would You Go to Work for Donald Trump?

Final Analysis: Would You Go to Work for Donald Trump?

Or would you rather end up on his enemies list?
 
 

Imagine getting a call inviting you to work for your country.

Now imagine your new boss is Donald J. Trump.

Would you move to Washington, D.C., to work for the president of the United States? For this president of the United States?

From what we know through simple observation, Donald Trump suffers from chronic narcissism, he doesn’t read much, he rarely smiles, he has a vindictive streak, he treats women badly, he has the argumentative skills of a bruised tangerine, he fears foreigners almost as much as he fears the truth and he spends his waking hours attached to marionette strings being manipulated by Steve “I Shave on Alternate Thursdays” Bannon.

Sure, you’ve probably suffered under bad bosses. But this guy takes the plagiarized inauguration cake. He thinks it’s OK to assault women. He made fun of a journalist’s disability. He said a judge couldn’t be impartial because of his ethnic heritage. He doesn’t pay people who have done work for him. He has been a plaintiff in nearly 2,000 lawsuits.

We have to assume that Sally Yates, the acting attorney general who got herself fired in January for standing up to President Trump’s ban on accepting immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, has probably updated her résumé by now. No doubt she proudly included a mention that she torched the president whose approval rating after one week in office had dropped faster than it had for anchovy-swirl ice cream.

If I worked for Trump, it would most likely be a challenging assignment. I try to be gracious and diplomatic with supervisors and coworkers, but I draw the line with people who lie to me. Or lie to others and put me in an awkward position. With them, I’m not so gracious, and I don’t hold my tongue. Which would probably get me early induction into the Sally Yates Hall of Flame.

Or maybe on the president’s enemies list. None other than Trump’s reality-TV pal, Omarosa Manigault, has revealed that the president possesses a long memory — longer, even, than his neckties — and that his people are “keeping a list” of those who don’t like him.

I know I should give my president the benefit of the doubt, but I’m happy to make an exception in this case. I don’t like Donald Trump. And I would be honored to be on his enemies list. Not since I played pickup baseball in grade school have I had such an urge to scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” Being added to a Presidential Enemies List would be such a treat, a career topper, really. Better than submitting to a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Or watching reruns of Celebrity Apprentice. Without anesthesia.

If selected, I would pledge to save my best words for the president and I would only use them in the bigliest way.

Of course, making the enemies list means I might never get the call to join the new administration. I might never get to engage in locker-room banter with POTUS. I might never get to untangle the marionette strings. I might never get to buy razors for Steve Bannon.

It is a sobering realization. But we must serve where we are best suited.

John Levesque is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine. Reach him at john.levesque@tigeroak.com.