Wait, America-Hating Foreigners Will Be Influenced By How Many Twitter Followers A US Diplomat Has?

from the is-this-the-washington-post-or-the-onion? dept

We've discussed a few times in the past the absolute ridiculousness of services like "Klout" that try to assign a "number" to influence based on random things like how many Twitter followers you have or how often you tweet. Of course, the actual research on this stuff (you know, not by some random company trying to make people and companies think they're important) says that this kind of stuff is all hogwash, and you can't really predict who will "influence" others on certain things. In most cases, who influences you on what is driven more by the close circle of people you know and trust, not someone with a lot of Twitter followers.

But Klout continues to spread its own silly marketing message... and the press apparently just loves it. But, you would think that the Washington Post, of all publications, wouldn't publish an (unintentionally?) hilarious puff piece by Brian Fung suggesting that something like Klout could influence how US diplomats interface with America-hating foreigners. Honestly, the story reads like something straight out of The Onion, taking a faux serious tone about how much diplomats can learn from their Klout score. It opens by talking about just how hated the US is abroad:
America’s reputation abroad has reached a new low. In the Middle East, America is even less popular now than when President George W. Bush occupied the White House. Washington’s image has suffered the most in Turkey, plummeting from a high of 52 percent in 2000 to a dismal 10 percent in 2011. In Asia this past week, Vice President Joe Biden tried to build bridges with Chinese President Hu Jintao’s presumptive successor, but the visit was clouded by doubts about the U.S. deficit.
But have no fear, US diplomats. If you just embrace your Klout score, the Middle East will be eating out of your hands in no time flat.
Klout, which Time magazine included in a list of the year’s 50 best Web sites on August 16, gives its users a score based on how influential they are across a range of social networks. Contributing to the social savviness readout is a wealth of information about users’ most engaged followers and the topics they respond to best.

It’s not hard to see how diplomats can turn this data to their advantage. In an environment that often rewards targeted communication over indiscriminate broadcasting, diplomats have an interest in finding out who their followers are and what they like. Posting content that influencers will spread themselves can maximize the State Department’s impact via network effects while economizing effort. And by learning about their audience, diplomats will be able to tailor their engagement strategy and make course corrections, just as commercial brands do in the private sector.
If not The Onion, at best this reads as a weak press release from Klout itself. The article doesn't quote anyone. It doesn't attempt to explore whether or not Klout's rankings actually mean anything. It just assumes that they do. I'm happy that diplomats are using social media, and I hope they learn to use it well. But relying on Klout to figure out how they should move forward doesn't seem like a particularly fruitful strategy.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 6:22am

    Note that it keeps on using the year 2000 as the baseline for this. The funny thing is, guess who was in charge then?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    blaktron (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:21am

    Re:

    Everyone's favorite primate-shaped president! I like that how I'm POSITIVE that Rihanna would 'Klout' as more influential than Bill Gates, but I'm sure even Rihanna wouldnt try to describe herself as 'more influential'.

     

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  3.  
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    Zangetsu (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:24am

    As a "foreigner" ...

    ... no, I don't give a rat's ass about how many tweets a diplomat has. Unfortunately I am one of those that reads more than 140 characters at a time and Twitter is, quite honestly, a waste of my time.

    Now, if you would stop trying to export your twisted and broken laws to other countries I'd be much happier. Can you work on that please?

     

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  4.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:28am

    Re: As a "foreigner" ...

    But we don't want those laws either, so we try to export all of them and we are left with just the good stuff.

     

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  5.  
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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:29am

    "But relying on Klout to figure out how they should move forward doesn't seem like a particularly fruitful strategy."

    That's quite a statement you make here Mike. How do you know it won't be a fruitful strategy? I'm pretty sure that Klout will make tons of money if the State Department start using Klout extensively. I'm sure the founders and execs of that company will become insanely rich. I'm sure the people working there will get bonuses and raises.

    Oh wait... Sorry... You mean fruitful for American foreign policy... My bad.

     

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  6.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:35am

    Real Power!

    When Adam Savage of Mythbusters tweets a link to a website, usually the website goes down due to the number of his followers going there.

    When an ambassador posts a link... actually, I don't know. Wasn't aware there were any ambassadors with twitter feeds worth following.

    Also, I'm fairly certain twitter followers are referred to as 'twits.' ;-P

     

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  7.  
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    Yogi, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Again

    "The article doesn't quote anyone. It doesn't attempt to explore whether or not Klout's rankings actually mean anything. It just assumes that they do."

    In short - mainstream media doing as mainstream media does - a shitty job at best, a propaganda piece at worst.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    grumpy (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:43am

    Wut?

    US of A is using Twitter for determining their foreign policy clout? I, for one, welcome our new Chinese overlords...

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 8:07am

    Re:

    Clinton was still in charge. Bush was elected in late 2000 but didn't take office until 2001.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: As a "foreigner" ...

    That wasn't 140 characters so the parent didn't read it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    theDude, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 8:27am

    the real issue

    Truth is many in the world have a poor opinion of American policy because they get more accurate world news and information then Americans do. Our poor image is not an image problem at all, its a policy problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 8:37am

    Re: Re: Re: As a "foreigner" ...

    D'oh!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 9:09am

    Is that so?

    "diplomats have an interest in finding out who their followers are and what they like. Posting content that influencers will spread themselves can maximize the State Department’s impact via network effects while economizing effort."

    Is that so? Well, I really like anal midget gangbang porn.
    I hope the ambassador can find something relevant to my interests to tweet about. Or else I start hating America

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    ComputerAddict (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: As a "foreigner" ...

    I like the idea of being able to export non-physical items.

    Must be we used Cut and Paste instead of Copy and Pasted them

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    trip@iglou.com, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 10:15am

    Re: As a "foreigner" ...

    Considering some of the "foreign" laws, I think I will stick with ours overall. Still better than 99% of the other places on this planet. Of course many of them try to be us anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: the real issue

    policy creates image.

    both are problems and both need to be corrected.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 7:58am

    America-Hating Foreigners

    that would be the entire planet, excepting those American hating americans.

    most people do not really hate America, ive been there several times and I find it a very nice place.

    I have been to a lot of different countries, and I find that all of them, except America displays some idea of life and culture in other countries, including America.

    But Americans appear to not have a clue, or care what the rest of the world is doing of has done, Lots of high ideal's but a clear inability to put them into practice.

    the land of the free and the brave !!!

    America is neither.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: As a "foreigner" ...

    and you wonder why people hate you ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Yomar Lopez, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Opportunities for Klout.

    I can see where some corporations may find Klout and platforms like it to be rather useful and/or accurate.. but we're not quite there at a global scale yet. It's more for B2B folks, I'd say. Diplomacy and politics, those are rather sensitive issues and you need a more reliable system to depend on.. Klout is not quite there yet.

    Influence should look at long-term actions and patterns, not singular actions attached to supposedly-influential or "important" people. As it currently stands, social influence is more of a fun thing than a useful thing. It's a numbers game.

    It's interesting to see how social media as a whole can improve communications and relationships globally in applications beyond business.. But I don't see Klout being anywhere near ready for such a venture.

    Can you imagine how messy that would get?

    "Your Klout profile indicates that you do not believe in my beliefs.. And you do not like Lindsay Lohan. I am going to nuke your nation now. kthanx"

    Hmmmm... Let's stick to traditional methods for now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Lance, Aug 25th, 2012 @ 2:14pm

    Cultural Differences

    A great new book that explains these cultural differences - "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understanding crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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