By R.A. Monaco
June 26, 2011
Companies have been scouring social networks looking for the new influencers and it seems that they've gotten to the bottom of the barrel quickly as they recently found me on a beautiful Sunday morning in Sheffield, a near north side Chicago neighborhood.
My discovery began while reading the New York Times, the last of my guilty Sunday morning pleasures, when a style reporter wrote that, "You've been scored" and that I may even have clout. As Stephanie Rosenbloom explained, if you have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, account you're already being scored and that we are in the midst of experiencing the democratization of influence. She went on to say that no longer do we need to be a celebrity, politician or media personality to be influential.
As I understand this all, there are over 2,500 companies who will give me free round-trip flights, hotel upgrades in Las Vegas, even tickets to the circus--sounds like a Groupon, leverage the world, scheme. What else could it be? Groupon is a homegrown, non-tech startup and clout is a Chicago word if I've ever heard one--or is it Klout? Anyway, so I've got clout, great, we're going to Las Vegas!
I don't know for sure, but, maybe my good fortune came by way of my writing with compelling imagery and sprinklings of Groupon's style of absurd humor. Maybe my well-crafted absurdities have an unintended Grouponesque voice that will give game to my clout ranking--that would be cool. Too cliché? Sorry. On the other hand, I think Groupon has a policy that you must be under 24 years old and nonsensical because appealing to the baby boomers' intellects doesn't seem to be too high on their marketing target--so that's probably not it either.
Anyway, no sooner than I finish reading about how my impassionate knowledge is about to pay off, I signed on to LinkedIn ready to game my clout rating score, and discover that a nice young man had sent me a message offering to help me with my Social Media Profile difficulties that he says, now, even the most tech-savvy computer whizzes need help with to make an impact. Wow, I'm considered in the category of tech-savvy computer whiz, too? What a day, pinch me!
This very nice, short and to the point email got me at, "Hello Randeli"--my friend Kevin calls me that and misspelling my name comes as no surprise because I have long been subject to others telling me how to spell my name. But, it also meant that he might have actually written the message and that it might not have been spam, so I read on. Good thing that I did because he said that he could give my business the 1st class look it deserves. Now that impressed me--having been a career criminal defense attorney now public affairs journalist, I no doubt needed the help. So I decided to write him back. Here is what I said:
So, it's free you say? Is my image that bad? I know my photo is several years old--I'm fat now having entered the ranks of geezerdom.
Mark, you certainly are on the cutting edge of something here but according to the NY Times, I've already been ranked. So, what's my rank--PFC? Am I to understand that my rating now determines how well I'm treated by everyone with whom I interact? I deserve a break every now and then too--can you get me a seat on the El?
I was recently credited as the Top Huffington Post Influencer of the Week. I'm not sure that I wanted that distinction. Was that a good thing? The people at the WSJ hate me, but they're worried about their money and don't like what I say, I think. It's really not easy being popular, I'm not sure I can handle it.
You must know of companies named Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader--have you worked for any of them? What do they say about my brand? How long before my brand gets me tickets to Cirque du Soleil or an upgrade on Southwest--I'm tired of sitting in the middle seat?
Do you regret contacting me yet? Hopefully not! If you're reading this far, I haven't been deleted yet, that's good.
The world is a highly subjective place and having an effective marketing impact seems to have a very dynamic component--time. How long are you prepared to work for free? Truth, I've been working for free, too. But, if you'd like to give me a 1st class look, you're welcome to contact me. Just be more specific about my rank and don't spam me as LinkedIn doesn't like that and I wouldn't want your charitable efforts wasted.
Especially Kind Regards,
I don't expect to hear back from Mark and consider the score even, if he reads my email to the end. It seems that whether we like it or not, we've all become part of a "social media caste system" where those of us with high scores get preferential treatment from airlines, prospective employers and, who knows, dates, too. I'd just like to say that I'm not about to go on vacation anymore and risk letting my Klout score go down. I'll be working hard at gaming my score to get that preferential treatment that I'll have no time to enjoy.