But the notion of including social media following numbers in our queries annoyed me. Because most of those stats are a popularity game. You can fix those numbers if you pay people or trick them into following you (not to mention the overriding fact that having huge numbers of followers does not indicate a great social media presence, because you aren't able to actually keep up with 60,000 different people). The idea that what can essentially be tricking or paying for your popularity might make a difference in representation seemed unfair.
Then last week, John Scalzi has a great post on "de-Koutifying," or the process of ditching the morally questionable Klout.
In other words Klout exists to turn the entire Internet into a high school cafeteria, in which everyone is defined by the table at which they sit. And there you are, standing in the middle of the room with your lunch tray, looking for a seat, hoping to ingratiate yourself with the cool kids, trying desperately not to get funneled to the table in the corner where the kids with scoliosis braces and D&D manuals sit.And,
I clicked over to Klout’s “perks” section not long ago — “perks” being the freebie things the service wants you to market for them — and rather than being presented with a selection of perks available to me, I was presented a list of perks I wasn’t qualified for, because apparently I wasn’t smart and pretty and popular enough for them, although Klout seemed to suggest that maybe if I did my hair a little differently, or wore some nicer shoes (or dragged more people into their service, making myself more influential in the process) maybe one day I could get the cool perks.No, no, no! Klout, No! If I had a virtual rolled up newspaper, I'd bap you on your nose! This is shameless and gross marketing, and as Scalzi says, "At which point I decided that Klout was actually being run by dicks..."
But let's get back to the whole popularity thing in queries. I understand where agents are coming from when they say they look at such numbers like Klout scores and blog vistors, I do. They're saying they want a marketable client, one that is attractive to readers. I get that! And of course agents want that!
But when it's a fixable score, we have problems. And as Scalzi says, Klout's scoring criteria is highly suspect.
In my opinion (and you can take this from my 15 years of experience in marketing and not as a writer who uses social media), here are the reasonable parts of social media for an unpublished, querying writer:
Twitter. If you have huge amounts of Twitter followers and you're an unpublished writer, then you should be a celerity or a successful business person. Otherwise, you should interact with as many other tweeters as possible, but not be focused on gathering followers. Followers come when you interact genuinely with others.
Facebook. I don't make my personal Facebook page public and I've stopped using a "public" one because it's against Facebook's rules. I could set up a fan page, but this might be just me---asking people to be my fan at this point is kind of crunchy. I'll save it for when I have news that needs following. Bottom line: have a Facebook page for more intimate connections (by "intimate" I mean photos rather than having affairs, gutter mind!), but don't do it unless you're comfortable with sharing your private info. Have a fan page instead if you feel ready to do so.
Blogging. Huge numbers of followers don't always result in tons of comments, but I would say that in general, the more followers you have, the more successful your blog. And yet, I also think longevity and content and frequency of posting are also equally important metrics. (Maybe I'm just saying that in my defense since I don't have a million followers, but I don't think my blog is a complete failure, either.) Bottom line: work hard on your blog. Interact with followers. Build your content. I think it matters.
Here's the sad fact of all this, though. Rachelle Gardener was right when she said publishers care about numbers. Of course they do! Numbers are what they deal with! But I also think that if you work at the outlets that do matter, you'll get there. Klout is not one of those outlets, not with questionable score metrics and "opportunities" to increase the score.
Thoughts? Do you have a Klout account? How do you use it? What social media outlets do you think are important for querying writers?