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I love that you're driving the conversation on the topic of influence; it's an age-old topic with a new twist, powered by public communications. And with more and more about us showing up in the open public web, it's inevitable that we'll try to measure influence and rank people, it's a part of Western society. But so much about influence is intensely personal, that so much about it will never show up in any public form for a tool to measure.

Influence doesn't work as a currency for a lot of the reasons social capital doesn't work (although I'll say I haven't truly dug into the literature to delineate between the influence and social capital). For background thoughts about social capital, here's what I wrote a couple years ago: http://www.unstructuredventures.com/uv/2009/01/16/social-capital-is-not-new/

"Difficult to value.
Social capital is a poor asset: because social capital is held through a relationship between two parties, its value is subject to different valuations by each party and revaluation at any time by either party without the other’s agreement."

and

"Difficult to exchange.
Since its value is difficult to measure at any point in time and subject to unannounced, non-public and non-agreed revaluation, social capital suffers as a medium of exchange and can be difficult to cash in and exchange for other assets."

I'd posit that many of the same concerns about measuring and using social capital hold true for influence.

Looking forward to the next step in the conversation.

@Geoff -- as Lucretia said in her comment, there is a certain emulation effect in influence, from seeing people we aspire to be like - we all have our heroes and role models, some look at celebrity, what can I tell you? In that case, it is the influenced who determine what influences them, not influentials, if that makes any sense at all. More to come.

@Dan -- clever PR stunts have a way of fizzling out. Buzz comes and goes. Influence has enduring qualities for which those events have no match. They are playing finite games, and those will eventually come to an end. Just like in casinos, people will find that it's a trick, nobody bets and wins against the house. I digress. The people and agencies I'd hire as a client, and I have been there most of my career, are those who put their efforts into my business, not their fame. Which means the rest of us have plenty to do. Good thoughts on relationships and influence, thank you for the link.

Valeria,
Terrific observation. For me, once I realized there were 20-something year-olds who didn't have a job but had Klout scores in the 70s, it made me ask myself, "Who the hell are they really influencing?". The reality is that the more time you spend tweeting, the better the chance your Klout score will go up. It's an even hollower number when you consider Lady Gaga has a considerably higher Klout score than Bill Gates. Greater influence? Don't think so.

People like numbers/stats. Those that fail to achieve any real accomplishments in the offline world, can still brag about a high Klout score online. It also makes for great blog fodder.

I do believe there is a place for services like Klout but only if you can leverage that score to your benefit. Folks like Chris Brogan and Brian Solis do this well. The rest of us? Not so much.

Better to build your influence where it really matters (and yields greater returns) with your family, your customers, and the man (or woman) in the mirror.

My full views can be read here: http://bit.ly/hub0eY

Looking forward to your follow-up post. Hug.

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