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