Settling the Score in 2012

Photo: D Sharon Pruit

Like lots of writers, I’m goal-driven. Each December I reflect on what I’ve accomplished the past year and what I still want to achieve. I’m not talking New Year’s Resolutions here; my WordServe colleague covered that quite brilliantly here. I’m talking about taking a good hard look at where I currently stack up against where I want to be.

When I started writing, I decided if I did one thing—no matter how small—every day to move toward my goal, I was doing okay. That worked for a while. I sold a couple of novels, completed several new manuscripts and got an agent—all aspirations I’d set out to achieve. Then something changed. People were measuring success in the social media space in a quantifiable, new way.

I knew social media was important for author promotion, so I increased my focus there. I expanded my social networking channels, reached out to make new contacts and endeavored to add relevant content wherever I participated. Eventually, I fell into a nice rhythm, and I’d thought I reached some moderate success.

Until, I discovered Klout.

I understand the importance of measuring the benefit of action against the time (or money) spent taking that action. Klout measures influence based on ability to drive action through social networks. As authors, we want people to engage with us, and we want them to read our books. So, off I went to Klout, armed with the warm-fuzzy I was already doing okay. I signed into my various latest-and-greatest social networks, then eagerly awaited my score.

It came back: twenty. Let me put that into perspective. An average score for someone dabbling in social media at that time was around 22. I had spent the year ramping up my social media presence and was still decidedly below average. The cat-lady next door probably had a higher Klout score than mine. Dismal didn’t begin to describe how I felt.

Being goal-oriented, I’m not one to wallow in my misery, so I looked up people with Klout scores I admired and tried to emulate them. Ten+ tweets a day? Eesh, but if it will make a difference, okay. Post more Facebook content people are likely to like, comment on or share? Let me just dust off my crystal ball…check. I can do that! Get more mentions on Twitter? No clue, but maybe if I tweet more it will help. And it couldn’t hurt to blog more…micro-blog more…get more followers…make more friends…post better content…be more interesting…put more out there…respond more to other people’s stuff…who said less is more? More is more!

I adjusted my program, then went back to check my score. It was now a bright, shiny…24? Still not good enough. I continued to make tweaks and check to see if anything I did made a difference. When someone reblogged my content, what did that do to my score? When they commented on my links, how did that help? What if I un-followed a bunch of inactive Twitter accounts, did that do anything? One day I thought I’d hit on something when my Klout score jumped to the high-thirties, but then I figured out they changed their algorithms and lots of scores had gone up by 10 or more without any outside effort whatsoever.

Then it dawned on me, if Klout can tweak their so-called measuring stick, why can’t I? Who really cared about my score anyway? Would an editor not buy my novel if my score wasn’t high enough? Would my agent drop me if my True Reach wasn’t up to snuff? Would my Yahoo groups cringe to be seen with me? Would my Tumblr pals run away like one of their clever little gifs? Would I never sell another book again?

I’m guessing the answer to most of the above is ‘no’ with the exception of that last one, because if I didn’t stop obsessing about moving my Klout score, I was never going to make time to finish another book again. Ever.

As I look forward to 2012 and set some writerly-type goals, I’ll continue to include author promotion among them, but I’ll be careful what I use to measure my success. Even though Klout is interesting and a great validation for some, I already know it’ll no longer be my personal yardstick.

The only numbers I want to obsess over this year are word count, the number of pages I’ve edited, and possibly the number of adverbs I remove from my first drafts. I may even go back to my old adage: what have I done today to further my writing career? I’ll stretch myself to improve my writing—to dig deeper for character development, to toss out clichés and to make my dialogue sing. I’ll remember why I joined social media to begin with: to interact with friends, readers and other writers.

And when I look back this time next year, I hope I’ll be able to carve another notch in the old doorframe and celebrate 2012 knowing how much I’ve really grown.

What about you? How are you measuring success against your goals?

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What’s Your Klout Score?

I have to admit, I’m a numbers girl, which may strike you as funny because math is certainly not my talent. Likely, it comes from my nursing background and my need for instant gratification. My “real-life” job concerns fixing my patient’s numbers—moving them in the right direction. Lowering temperature, easing difficulty breathing, or bringing back a heart rate when there isn’t one. It’s all about trending in the right direction. Wrong patient trends need intervention.

Recently, I was reading Rachelle Gardner’s blog and came across her discussion on “numbers” and how you could use certain statistics, like blog hits, in your book proposal to help a publisher make a decision to go forward with your novel. Of course, a strong book is paramount but it is foolish to think that a potential employer, your publisher, isn’t looking at your on-line presence as a way to help their decision.

Rachelle mentioned a Klout score and I hadn’t heard of this so off to the website I go.

Klout, in one place, analyzes the effectiveness of your on-line presence. Once you allow it access from your social networking sites—and they do have a lot of them—it performs some genius unknown mathematical calculation so you can get a glimpse of your on-line life in a couple of areas.

First score measures your influence. It’s based on a scale of 1-100. One hundred being the best score you can have. Currently, I’m at 42.23 which places me as a “Dabbler”. Under Klout style, it will show other people you likely know, what their score is and where they land style-wise. That was a fun comparison because I knew several of the people and their on-line presence. Most I admire as something to aim toward.

Then is your true reach score. This measures how many people you influence. My score is currently 404. The site allows you to see other people’s scores as well. I compared myself to a known author and her reach was 877. I didn’t necessarily feel bad about that. She has three novels currently published and a savvy internet presence.

Next score is amplification which is how much you influence people. My score currently sits at 19. Not great but I’m just starting out so a definite growth opportunity—not weakness, right?

Last score is for network. This scores the impact of your network. The more people that comment, share and respond to your content, the higher your score will be. My score here is 51.

Klout also looks at topics you’re influential about. Mine are medical (yeah!), technology (really?), authors (excellent), blogging (surprised!) and childbirth (yikes—don’t ask me how.)

Also, it will list who you influence and whom your influenced by. Fun information.

Overall, I think Klout will be a good way to measure your on-line presence and whether or not it is growing. Sometimes, when I look at my Blogger statistics, I think the information is limited. I can see my stats are increasing but for me, that just may be more people are perusing by. That’s not bad but I like how Klout looks at your influence and overall reach. These are good numbers to gauge. If they are steadily climbing, my efforts are working versus a downturn would lead me to consider changing up what I’m doing.

Are you on Klout? What’s your score? Have you used your scores to change what you’re doing on-line?

For an alternate opinion on how valuable this score is, check out this post entitled: Why Your Klout Score is Meaningless.