A few months ago, I wrote about Klout, a tool that helps quantify “influence” on Twitter and Facebook. At the time, I was a staunch advocate: Klout wasn’t a perfect tool, but it was the best we had.

I’ve had a change of heart. Not only is Klout an extremely imperfect tool, often failing to update key statistics or just offering nonsense information (I tweet about RF? I don’t even know what that is!). I was also wrong in saying Klout is the best tool we have for measuring social media success. There are dozens of great metrics for social media success–and none of them involve an imaginary number.

We can measure success based on the new friends and business contacts we make. We can measure it by the strength of our relationships, how many people tell us that we made them laugh, cry, or think as a result of our messages. We can see our success in click throughs to our websites, and leads who tell us they saw us on social media.

Klout had the chance to be a useful tool in the social marketer’s toolkit, but squandered it by flat out not working properly and making people focus too much on a number instead of reaching out to the people they’re supposed to care about. After all, would you rather follow “an influencer,” or a friend?