01/04/2013 09:41 am ET Updated Mar 06, 2013

Hey Klout: I'm Not a Grilled Onion Cheddar Sandwich Ho

I belong to the social media influence-scoring site Klout, although I couldn't tell you why. Klout is a site that tells you how influential you are online, although I'd say their algorithm is as suspect as can be. I'm not sure why the photos of my kids and lovely horses and other things that I post on Facebook make me influential, but it seems that as long as my friends 'like' my photos and random asides, my Klout score keeps going up.

(I post lots of business stuff, too, but Klout doesn't distinguish between my business influence and my kids-and-nature influence. You'd think they would care about stuff like that.)

If you get to a certain level in your Klout score, you begin to get Perks from Klout. With a Klout score of 65, so far I've gotten a set of pencils in the mail (retail value: about $2, plus postage, if I'm any judge of pencils) and a few discount coupons for products I'd never buy. Today, though, I had a whole new Klout Perks experience. Today Klout tried to make me a Grilled Onion Cheddar sandwich ho by requiring me to leave a comment about McDonald's new Grilled Onion Cheddar sandwich in order to try one.

Here's the message Klout sent me:

Taste the New Grilled Onion Cheddar

Klout Perk: A $5 Arch Card toward the New Grilled Onion Cheddar sandwich Complete these objectives to claim your Perk
  • Tell us where you'd like your Perk sent.
  • See what people are saying on Twitter & share your thoughts using #GrilledOnionCheddar & #SPONS!
  • Achieve a Klout score higher than 55

Notice the order of operations: I have to tweet about the sandwich in order to get one! I guess I could go buy one, eat it and tweet about it after I'd finished it, but Klout doesn't say anything about that. In fact, they say just the opposite -- they start the message with Taste the New Grilled Onion Cheddar!

I am trying to picture a person who is so hard up for $5 of McDonald's coupons (toward a particular sandwich, no less!) that he or she would work toward a lofty Klout score to get one (or have time to spend that way). Then, I'm trying to picture a person who needs the $5 badly enough to review a sandwich he or she hasn't tasted yet.

McDonald's doesn't understand word of mouth marketing, that's for sure. That's one problem. On their side of the equation, Klout doesn't seem to have much of a business model. It sure didn't take long for Klout to start trying to convert its most avid users into fast food sandwich hos. How low, in the end, can you get?

Come on, Klout. It's going to take more than a Grilled Onion Cheddar sandwich to get me on my knees, social-media-wise.

I told my husband the story, and he laughed. "It's Klout who's the ho," he said. "Look what they're saying to their high(ish) scoring users. They're saying, 'You're so influential that you don't even have to try a product in order to endorse it!' That sort of makes a mockery out of the whole idea of influence, doesn't it?"

Fie on you, Klout, and on you too, Mickey D's, for misunderstanding and misusing social media influence (whatever the hell that means) so distastefully. Do these people get marketing, or reputation, or ethics in any way? I'm going to vote No. This Klout perk is a straight-up transaction (trading a free sandwich for an influential tweet) of the lowest imaginable order. How cheaply do Klout and McDonald's think a Klout user's influence can be bought, anyway?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts. Thanks!