Marketing maven Joe Pulizzi says it's time to start paying attention to Klout, the online scoring service that counts up all the retweets you get, all the comments you get on Facebook updates and how many people give your YouTube videos the thumbs-up.
"In basic terms," Pulizzi writes, "Klout measures your online influence and your ability to drive interaction on the web."
Klout also shows what subjects you're influential on—and how you're influential. "You may see yourself as a thought leader but discover that the world sees you as a dabbler or activist," says another marketer, Drew McLellan.
Of course Klout also measures the influence of others, so you can use it to figure out who you ought to interact with, and who's not worth your time.
And finally, you can use it to tell people, "Do you know who I am?"
Recently Pulizzi heard Klout employee Matt Thompson give an example: "When you check in at the Marriott after your long trip, your Klout score is immediately visible to the Marriott employee. While you may not have enough Marriott reward points to make a difference, your Klout score says that you are influential in travel, specifically hotels. You are immediately upgraded to a poolside suite AND you received a complimentary breakfast."
To sum up, Klout helps you become a cold, calculating power miser who looks at every human interaction for its potential to advance your selfish cause and get a free lunch from people who realize how important you are.
In short, Klout is a tool to help you become a tool.
Pulizzi, who is no tool himself—he's a generous and admirable guy—acknoweldges in the comments section of his post that Klout's clout calculator is rudimentary (and he believes the Klout guys know this too). But he says you should be watching and trying to improve your Klout scores because "it’s the perception of what the Klout score means to others that counts."
Boy, I hope that's not true. Lord, don't let me be hired and fired based on my Yelp scores alone!