Dear social web, Let’s try keeping it real.

I hesitate to be drawn into the Klout firing line again but I have had so many requests from the {grow} community to comment on the Klout Meltdown this week that I guess I need to respond. At the risk of adding to Klout weariness, here are a few observations.

  • My Klout score dropped from 82 to 64. Who cares?  My wife and kids still love me.
  • Klout’s biggest competitor is PeerIndex.  My score on PeerIndex is 64. Funny. They’re the same level now.
  • Nobody complained that their PeerIndex score was too low.
  • My friend Elizabeth Reusswig remarked that “60 is the new 80.” It’s true. As I looked at how this affected others, my RELATIVE influence stayed about the same.
  • Here is the big idea most people miss about Klout.  In the long run, Klout doesn’t give a damn if you’re happy with your Klout score or not. You’re not their customer. As long as they deliver the goods to brands we can go ahead and howl all we want.
  • I admire Klout CEO Joe Fernandez but he created a hole for himself by announcing that the new changes would affect most people’s scores very little. If he just would have said most scores will drop for a re-set in the name of accuracy, it would have gone down a lot better.
  • Recently Blogger Danny Brown ran some really concerning stuff about Klout and privacy. I agree with him. Klout has got to get on top of that or they’re going to jeopardize their success.
  • Some people said that this drop in scores “proves that Klout is on the way out.” Ha! That made me chuckle.  This week, Klout received another $30 mm in funding and is already valued at $200 mm. Ummm, no, they are not on their way out.
  • Klout is kicking ass. They are getting tens of billions of hits to their API every month. PeerIndex just hit 100 million hits. Klout is that far ahead.
  • Disney, American Express, EA Sports and other well-known brands are lined up for Klout programs. Klout said they are nearly “sold out” on Perks for December. You may think Klout is dumb, but these companies don’t. Pay attention.
  • Another thing that makes me laugh … people are “heart-broken” because they put so much work into their Klout score only to see it drop. Are these the same people who are incensed when they work so hard to be the Foursquare mayor at Dunkin’ Donuts and get replaced? C’mon folks let’s get real. Go make something. Go sell something.
  • I saw another big line of complaints from people who were afraid a score drop would jeopardize their job prospects. When I wrote about Klout and employment opportunities a few months ago, people thought I was making it up. Apparently some companies believe it is a sign that you are adept at using the social web. Or, it might be a sign you have too much time on your hands. Either way, it’s going mainstream.

Here is the big take-away for me over this brouhaha. Accomplishment doesn’t matter on the social web.  Social proof in the way of Twitter followers or a Klout score matter more than success on your job or the great charities you support.  It’s painful to acknowledge that, but it’s true.  That’s the real reason people are so upset. Klout scores DO MATTER. In an information-dense society, it is an easy short-cut to determine worth.

I cover this phenomenon quite a bit in my upcoming book (There! A Tease! Power on the social web. Hmmm … wouldn’t that make a fascinating book?).

People are literally crying over a fake numeric Internet badge.  Yes my friends, we are living in a very, very weird world.

Create and curate great content.  Nurture a network of people who care about you. Be kind. The influence will take care of itself.

Now I am going to go play tennis with my wife.

All posts

  • Anonymous

    Mark i love this part of your post:
    Some people said that this drop in scores “proves that Klout is on the way out.” Ha! That made me chuckle.  This week, Klout received another $30 mm in funding and is already valued at $200 mm. Ummm, no, they are not on their way out.
    Well even better check attack picture a answer from @joefernandez on how Klout generate revenue. Wonder if investors would be still so giving if they see what The Men of influence thinks.  

  • I actually think that is a very funny comment!  Kind of pokes fun at the whole Silicon Valley start-up thing. Believe me, he is a very savvy guy.

  • It is funny…

  • I like you almost as much…

  • Anonymous

    Mark,

    Good post.

    Klout scores have only tangential relevance to
    real clout in the real world. Most of the serious heavy hitters I know have
    little or no active personal social media presence of any kind. Their
    businesses do, but they don’t. It’s easy to take all of this naval gazing way
    too seriously. Klout is as good a measure as any, but as Einstein said: ‘Not
    everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be
    counted.’

  • Megan Fitzwater

    I couldn’t care less about my Klout score. I’m a housewife who scored so fun stuff through Perks… but when I learned of the privacy issues and saw some fishy things about who I’m now “influencing” – I revoked access and am praying for the option to get my profile (and the profiles of many friends and family members who I’m influencing who are minors with private locked-down social media accounts) off of their website.

  • Thanks for a great post Mark. I’ve been talking about how you really measure influence for the past year. You probably remember this guest post I did for Stan on Pushing Social in January http://pushingsocial.com/how-do-you-measure-influence
    We are losing all sense of perspective if we believe that an algorithm sums up our value to the world, we really are. I decided a while back that I wasn’t going to pay attention to Klout and even asked them to remove my image, data and profile from their website. That’s just not going to happen. If your Twitter account is public they can do whatever they like with the data.

    What we need to realise is that although we use these platforms (Klout, FB, Twitter etc), we are not their customers, we are their commodities, their bargaining chips and the reason they get millions of dollars of funding and advertising. And as long as you’re going back to Klout every day to check out if you still matter or not (or more likely whether your competitors matter more than you) then they have a pretty healthy business model for the future.

    I think we need to take a long hard look at what’s worth measuring. Will your Klout score of 90 feature in your epitaph? What price are you paying to try and change something you have no control over? Far better as you say Mark to go do something useful. Create an impact, help, educate, connect, inspire and love people than to measure your worth with an algorithm.

  • Mark, your pragmatism is admirable and in all likelihood wise. 

    I opined today that if the job market of the future is one where I need to have a good Klout score, then I guess I’m headed willingly to the gutter. You may well be right, but I think there will be a backlash. This is totally anecdotal, but my sense is that young people are not just averse to things like this, but entirely repulsed by them. I’m not against social proof. I just think we’re a long way from having anything like it. To me, social media was supposed to do away with exactly this kind of opinion making.

    Also, VC means it’s going to continue to do well? Didn’t we see this week that unthink.com got $2.5M in funding at some point? Most VC investments never go anywhere. It’s a force right now, basically because everyone’s scared not to be in it, but Myspace was once a force too, and not all that long ago. 
    People are standing up in their own ways. Geoff Livingston has seemed lately to be stepping not back but sideways maybe. But we need leaders to model the behavior. Let’s make the web what we want — not just what gets forced upon us by business. Because business by force isn’t a fair transaction, and I believe people are actually pretty savvy about being taken advantage of. There’s a business argument to be made for this in the long run, but of course that doesn’t pay the bills today.

    Ah, well. From what I heard today, even closing my Twitter accounts as I have doesn’t necessarily mean my Klout is zero yet. I will get there.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Mark – very astute and useful post, you covered all angles in a streamlined and concise way.  On a personal note, I am friend [email protected]:disqus  (oh shit, now my Klout score is going to drop for sure) [email protected]_Ries:disqus the person who identified the privacy issue (it was her son) and who very much wants Klout to respond, so the more the word gets out, the better.  Thanks again.  PS – hope you won the tennis match.

  • Great post, Mark! I recall we discussed this a bit at Social Media at Work with you. Best line? “Go make something. Go sell something!” Innovate, invent, write, work, create a job–these things really do matter. If Harrisburg Social Media Club could attract you and Kristie Wells for our conference, we must have clout, regardless of the scores ; )

  • I have a bit of a theory–one that you will probably shoot lots of holes through, but its kind of fun to think about. I have wondered for a while whether Klout was using its clout, not to measure, but to actually drive behavior. Now that the algorithm has changed (my score went from 60 to 48, whereas my Peer Index has been steady at 61), I wonder if they are watching to see how we respond. One giant experiment. How many will change their behavior to try to recapture their 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s score? Do you think that some folks alter the topics they tweet about to earn specific perks? It seems possible to me, and maybe even probable that this could be one gigantic social media behavior experiment. Who is going to blink first?

  • Roy Wells

    Thanks Mark for talking me off the ledge with this post. When Klout notified me that my score had dropped by six points I thought I should toss away my IPad and end it all. You have given me hope!!!!! Great post and very entertaining. I think you are absolutely right; it is about relationships and building a community. Cheers

  • Had not thought about that. Maybe I’m 25% less lovable and I’ll get 25% less spam? Here’s hoping!

  • Beautifully said Patrick. Thanks.

  • I’m not getting how a private Facebook account could be exposed on Klout. You have to opt in for each of your platforms for Klout. If this is happening, it’s a serious problem.

  • Thanks for the great comment Bernadette. Just to be clear, I do think Klout is connecting the dots in a way that will eventually tie online conversations to offline behaviors. I wrote about this here: https://www.businessesgrow.com/2011/09/12/why-klout-matters-a-lot/

  • A lot of great points here Will. I don’t know if the kids are repulsed by this or not. They seem to be willingly giving up their privacy. What’s one more?

  • That’s a crazy story. I hope they get it straightened out. Thanks for caring enough to comment.

  • Well said Anne!

  • Yep I did read that post too Mark. My point is that we have no real control over what Klout does or doesn’t do now or in the future and getting hung up on our scores isn’t going to give us that control. The potential side effect is that people will end up focused on building their scores instead of building their businesses and their impact in the real world.

  • I think there is something there Alice. I have observed that some people definitely have altered behaviors to try to increase scores. Another thing I observed … I have written articles about Klout so people gave been kind to give me a + K about “klout.” but now that I’m listed as influential about Klout, people see that and give me more plus K’s on that. So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Another weird behavior. Thanks!

  • Glad to be if service Roy! : )

  • Yeah, I linked to that post in the blog. Still don’t get how it happened technically. You’re supposed to opt in. Thank Will.

  • Infanta_lorena

    kloutless and blissfully ignorant — living life instead

  • My two cents:

    Yikes, that privacy warning motivated me to unlink my FB. I was thinking about doing it anyways, since I like to keep FB pretty private…

    The only thing that bugs me about the Klout thing is that bit where they talk about transparency. Did I miss something? How is it more transparent now? Are they actually revealing their calculations? I don’t expect them to, but why are they talking about transparency?

  • Are you sure you’re kloutless? : )

  • Anonymous

    Hi All,
    http://klout.com/#/user/piyushkhera
    Have a look at this user profile, his klout jumped 26 points (from 24 to 50) after
    the algo update! I know because I know him personally. I am struggling to find
    how he is enjoying that hi klout! (nothing against him)

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  • Very grounded and insightful post. 

    This is just my opinion, but it looks like Klout started to see how some users were gaming the system with RSS feeds, auto replies/RT and other non-human input. Then it made adjustments so the bad behavior is not rewarded. If anything Klout may help to remove some of the static that blares over the real content on the social web.

    In the end what matters more is what you do with the score, than the score itself.

  • I started to use Klout after being invited by one of my twitter friends. Now it just so happens that I have two twitter accounts. A “business” and a more “personal” account (like probably a lot of other people). On the business account, I’m very active and engaging (mostly on twitter). I also linked my yahoo, flickr, FB, WordPress and G+ accounts to this account. The activity on the personal account is VERY limited… After signing up for Klout with my business acct, I noticed that I also had Klout on the other acct, even without being signed up…

    The funny thing is, that on my “non active” acct, I had a score of 51 (WITHOUT ANY EFFORT), while on the business acct, my score was 65… No need to tell that I already had serious doubts about the value/credibility of the KLOUT score and so I saw it more as kind of a gadget. After the correction, I’m back to 47 on the business acct and to 40 on the personal acct.

    I decided to just get rid of this whole KLOUT thing and disconnected all my accounts…. It was fun for a while, but I have better things to do with my time than waste it on something like KLOUT…

    I do feel sorry for all the people who have their careers affected by this irresponsible behaviour of KLOUT

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  • Seems like i saw a prototype but it hasn’t been activated as far as i can see. Thanks Elyse!

  • What does it matter?  Stay centered my friend. It is what it is. Let’s spend time on things we can impact.  Thanks for commenting!

  • That’s an interesting theory. The accuracy of the algorithm has to absolutely paramount. They have poured a ton of resources into this and I guess they found some issues. Good for them. 

    As far as gaming, it will ALWAYS be there. Where corruption can occur, corruption will occur. Look at the SEO spammers and their daily war with Google.  If there is some economic gain at stake, this will always be a problem for Klout. Thanks very much for your comment Jeff.

  • “You’re not their customer.” I’ve been saying that for ages, [email protected]:disqus says we are their commodities.  Surely if everyone stopped running around like headless chickens trying to up their scores then they would simply fade away? No?

  • Your story is not unusual.  There are definitely flaws in the system. The problem with social start-ups like this is that there is no way innovate and iterate without putting the problems out there for the world to see. The bane of being “social.”  I make mistakes in my business and I’m thankful they’re not on public display!

  • Wow, Mark, you hit the nail on the head.  It’s insanely accurate, although unfortunate that, “Social proof in the way of Twitter followers or a Klout score matter more than success on your job or the great charities you support. ”

    I am so glad you commented on this, as I was looking for some ‘real’ guidance!

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  • I regard raising one’s Klout score to be on a par with running up the down escalator. Not something I put much energy into. In fact, none.

    Michael

  • If nothing else, this should be a wake up call for those who leaned too heavily on the metric. 

  • Oh no. They are on to something big here. Seriously. They have helped democratize influence, or at least shined a light on it. This is an important trend. It is just starting. It won’t go away.

  • Very kind of you to say Rachel. Thank you for the social proof. : )

    Could not resist!  Ha!  Thanks so much for your kind words.

  • I’m with you on this.  Just stay centered. Do good work. Let the algorithms change, but concentrate on what is important.  Thanks Michael!

  • I hope so, but I doubt it. I think there is definitely a camp of people who want to game the score and spend the effort to do it.  Thanks Jacob!

  • I think the whole whining over the drop in scores is quite funny.  As I mentioned in #UsGuys stream -> Accurate is better than inflated. And at the end of the day who cares? Apparently many reminds me of a song “and you say she’s just a friend” — I guess klout is not just a number to many.

  • Hi Mark,

    I know it is foolish to ignore Klout, so I don’t. However, I am very alarmed at the security breaches. I understand that I have no privacy online. I am also a 43 year old woman and can make that choice. What is really disturbing is that Klout is arbitrarily setting up profiles for people just because they interact with us.

    Last night I conducted a little experiment. I checked to see if my boyfriend has a Klout score. He has a Twitter account that he never uses. Sure enough, because he tweeted one of my posts, he was there with a Klout score of 10. Why is this disturbing? Because he NEVER signed in to Klout to have a profile made. We have to go to Twitter to make an account, the same with Facebook. Not so with Klout, and that is a problem.

    It is also worrying that you cannot opt-out. What if he does not want a Klout profile?

    Back to the lowered Klout scores. I went from a 53 to a 50. I think I need a hug and a tissue. I mean, this is about as important as worrying why someone unfollwed me on Twitter. Are we really this bored with life? I sure hope not.

  • I agree. I’m pleasantly surprised that Klout has decided to go ahead with this at the risk of antagonizing people who seemed to rely on it so much and probably their biggest evangelists. I’ve heard that the new algo gives more weight to FB than it used to. I think that is a good move. Any platform with  800mill + users should play a major role in  any ‘standard of influence’ on the social web.

  • I am less concerned about my personal score, and more concerned about my ability to use klout scores to identify influential people to target for clients. 

    Without the budget of coke or Disney, small business owners have fewer resources to throw at programs.   And using Klout to identify key people to connect with was helpful, until this last round of changes.  It is not just that scores dropped, but random people, with little activity have increased?  

  • I’m not a fan of Klout, for reasons we’ve discussed ad naseum, but I DO love +K! Like giving you +K for money. [email protected]:twitter  +K for tacos. Because that makes me laugh.

  • Amidst all of the keening and wailing about Klout, and the folks who defend Klout as inevitable, there lies a middle way, which I think is where I am settling. Social scoring is here to stay, because there are enough marketers out there who require a shortcut and are willing to pay for it. Plain and simple. With enough dollars out there wanting to be spent on the easy way, the easy way will be developed. So I’m not going to carp about social scoring as a category.

    But I think it’s also OK to support or at least accept social scoring, but also reject Klout specifically. It’s one thing to argue about whether or not Klout is an actual standard of influence – it isn’t, really, but I love the way that you, Mark, have shifted it to a measure of the ability to move content. Here is what is demonstrably inarguable, however: Klout is *internally* borked. Even if we accept the correctness of their concept/approach, it’s internally inconsistent, and in ways that render the whole thing pretty suspect.

    I’ll give you a piece of anecdotal evidence, which – while potentially idiosyncratic, I’ll grant you – is still pretty convincing that the whole ball of wax at Klout is poorly constructed. About a month ago, I noticed that my other half was not listed as one of my influencers. That in itself was pretty damning, as far as I’m concerned, since she is the person I reply/retweet the most on Twitter, and vice versa. Missing THAT – the person who actually DOES influence me the most, and in public, demonstrable ways – already made me doubt that they know what they are doing over there. But, I didn’t make a fuss about this – I simply added her as one of my influencers manually. Done. So I overtly told Klout that this person actually IS an influencer to me – no need to tally retweets.

    Since the Kloutapocalypse, she no longer appears as one of my influencers, nor as someone I influence. And today, she got the helpful message from her new score analysis that her “immediate influence network no longer [email protected]:disqus  (me).” So even beyond the patently OBVIOUS influence we have upon each other on the social web, Klout also failed to register my overt “reprogramming” to TELL it that she is my influencer. Instead, I have an assortment of usual suspects and clearly mistaken ones. Anecdotal evidence? You betcha – but think about how such a mistake could happen? An algorithm full of holes.

    So I think it’s not always the case that complaining about the players is complaining about the game. The game is here to stay. But if we are all going to be scored by Klout, then Klout needs to get obvious stuff like this right. They just don’t. What Klout CANNOT see damns it enough. But errors of commission on top of errors of omission call the entire house of cards into question.

    There, I said it.

  • Hi Nancy,
    The only way he can opt out is to make his tweets protected and then email Klout and ask to be removed. If your account is public they will use the data, even if you ask to be removed as I have.

  • Don’t forget Shonali for Kim Kardashian and me for bacon and Danny Brown for sheep!

  • “People are literally crying over a fake numeric Internet badge.” Mark this is making me CRY LAUGHING!

    My Klout has been going down anyway because I’m too busy tweeting for work. So I was prepped. At first I was anxious and then I remembered I had told my buddy Mark not to get so wrapped up in the numbers and realized I should follow my own advice!

  • Thanks! I’ve been thinking a lot about Klout becoming like a social media credit score (exclusive access party, anyone?). Being a big Dave Ramsey fan, I feel that’s a pretty good analogy. The score might be used for a lot of things, but in “real life” it doesn’t really track what people think it tracks. If you get a million dollars in the bank today, you credit score (or the “I love debt” score as Dave calls it) won’t change.

    If you hit the social media jackpot and get a huge number of retweet’s, your Klout score will probably go up. But did you make any new connections or relationships? If social media is really about relationships (and Klout is really trying to measure that), how can those really be measured?

    That being said, I actually like Klout. I started actively tweeting in the last 4-5 months and I’ve learned from Klout how to do it “better” (if such a thing can be said). I found I liked following people with higher Klout scores so I started learning from them and it has served me well.

  • I suppose that given we have no choice in the matter also means it won’t be going away.

  • Good perspective Tash!

  • This is a big sore spot for many, and rightly so.

  • Honestly Mark, I don’t understand your take on this. You seem to really have a clear perspective as to Klout, where it’s going, and all that. You also seem to have a proper perspective, especially at the end when you say:

    “Create and curate great content.  Nurture a network of people who care
    about you. Be kind. The influence will take care of itself.”

    But it’s this statement that confuses me, because it is the opposite of your other statement: “So pay attention.”

    In other words, why do I have to pay attention? Why can’t I accept Klout for what it is and its influence, work hard as always, but not pay attention?

    Does that make any sense?

    Marcus

  • I think thast is where it will move eventually.  It will trickle down to smaller businesses. At this point, Klout can barely keep up with the business they have now. But undoubtedly there is an opportunity for smaller businsesses. It’s coming.

  • I agree with you completely.  I’m glad that you have moved to the camp of acceptance on the trend and have been further enlightened to the idea of moving content as a source of power.  That is actually quite comforting given your analytical background and intellectual prowess, Tom!

    I am in complete agreement on the vulnerability of the Klout system. They simply have to “un-bork” that or the system will be sub-optimized … or perhaps be rendered useless.

    As you know I have spent an intense amount of time studying this subject and if you think through what they are trying to do it is infinitely complex. In your one example, codifying individual relationships, and interactions between those relationships, across multiple platforms is insanely complex. Even the semantic analysis to determine topics is crazy technology. 

    So the next discussion is this. Given time, resources and technological advances will they figure it out … and WHO will figure it out?

    On the first part, I believe the answer is yes. The economic benefits are too promising to marketers. There will be rapid improvement — breath-taking improvement — in this space.

    Who will do it?  In addition to Klout, companies like IBM and even the defense department are looking at advances in social scoring. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess this is on the Google and Facebook radar too. These organizations have virtually limitless resources to pursue social scoring nirvana.

    So my forecast is yes.  The insane complexity will be tamed month by month, year by year. Who will tame it? Probably a number of organizations, in different ways, but not all of it will be publicly available. In the public space, Klout is so far ahead it’s not even a race. They are very smart people and are focused on making the right investments to grow the business.

    Wish we were having this conversation over a beer. That would be so much fun. Soon I hope!

  • See, we’re there for each other at just the right times!! : )

  • Really good points Luke.  I think the credit analogy is accurate. It is one indicator. It does not indicate your willingness to pay money back or your integrity or even your current financial state. It is one sliver of the picture, and yet it is very useful for many decisions. Thanks!

  • One thing my friends know about me, Mark: I am not a rigid or judgmental thinker. New information changes my mind all the time. I’d be pretty shitty at my job otherwise 🙂

  • I can understand the confusion. I could have been more clear. Here’s what I mean.

    From a personal perspective, don’t sweat it.  If you focus on the fundamentals of social media success you will be OK.

    From a business perspective, if you are in the “Klout is stupid” camp, you are going to be missing out. You need to pay attention to the TREND (not the individual number) because this is absolutely a vital marketing development This is no less than the democratization of influence and historically important from a marketing perspective.

    Thanks for asking for clarity. I’m sure I confused many others too! : )

  • I can understand the confusion.  I could have been more clear. Here’s what I mean.

    From a personal perspective, don’t sweat it.  If you focus on the fundamentals of social media success you will be OK.

    From a business perspective, if you are in the “Klout is stupid” camp, you are going to be missing out. You need to pay attention to the TREND (not the individual number) because this is absolutely a vital marketing development This is no less than the democratization of influence and historically important from a marketing perspective.

    Thanks for asking for clarity. I’m sure I confused many others too! : )

  • I can understand the confusion. I could have been more clear. Here’s what I mean.

    From a personal perspective, don’t sweat it.  If you focus on the fundamentals of social media success you will be OK.From a business perspective, if you are in the “Klout is stupid” camp, you are going to be missing out.

    You need to pay attention to the TREND (not the individual number) because this is absolutely a vital marketing development This is no less than the democratization of influence and historically important from a marketing perspective.

    Thanks for asking for clarity. I’m sure I confused many others too! : )

  • You are going to love the book. : ) 

  • Please find me those people who are literally crying so I can unfollow them. 

  • Anonymous

    I think that in order to get a more accurate score, you shouldn’t be concerned about the score itself… at all. It defeats the purpose, I think. Seems to me that for most “Influencers”, it is just a handy tool to measure the degree of penetration you or your brand gets via a web 2.0 interface.

  • Good point Jacob.

  • Mark thought you would like to see this https://www.facebook.com/twittarrpirate

  • Great exchange between you and Tom about the complexities of analyzing relationships & interactions and the shortcoming of Klout. I wonder why there has to be a single score for social influence. I don’t think we use a single identifier to define the success of a relationship, a project or even our health, so why our social media presence.  It’s fine that these types of scoring values are available but I wonder if in our pursuit of a single value to assign meaning to a social presence we are not going to undermine social analytics in general.

  • First, I love playing tennis w/the wife. Now that she is getting better in league, she actually listens to my coaching ;). Secondly, I loved “60 is the new 80” as well as “Kould Kare Less”. Points for fun originality.

    My only concerns w/this influence indicator (because it will NOT go away and we WILL be measured by it on a relative scale) are the following:

    – My 18 yr old is a couple points behind my own score. She tweets a few times per year, never blogs or has blog comments, has no presence on LinkedIn. She is a Facebook fiend (a place I try to reserve for personal use). She may positively influence someone’s Calculus grade or voting to watch TV series on Netflix, but that is the extent. Is that a true measure of influence

    – Rumor is that Klout is giving a heavier weighting to people interacting with other people with equal or higher Klout scores. I am very thankful for influencers taking me under their wing when I was getting started w/Twitter especially. I was a nobody, and they patiently taught me. If people truly care about their Klout, will they now be “dis-incentived” to help the newbies?

    Thanks for the post, Mark.

  • I agree and I do think there will be multiple scores and companies offering the services. Last week I reported on the Klout-like dtaing sight for “beautiful people!” Just the beginning!

  • Standing and applauding. I have nothing else that needs to be added.

  • Mark,

    I have shared my skeptic perspective with you about Klout.  Is the scoring adjustment simply an answer to OWS – bringing together more of a middle class?  But seriously, I question whether this is more a marketing ploy than an adjustment of “influencer value.”  It seems the high scores went down and the low scores went up (sure there are some exceptions).  I view this as a marketing attempt to get the mass more interested.

    Go ahead – fire back … I know you differ on opinion, but that is my take (for now, at least).

    Best,
    Steve

  • It’s all relative ~ I guess you are saying that. 60 is the new 45 (age) 600K is the new 450K (house value) and 60K is the new 45K (my clout score) ~yet I am closer to you in Klout than I was! haha As a researcher I find this all very fascinating but of course tempered with the privacy concern Danny raised. As always you hit the nail on the head.

  • Greg

    ha ha ha…. I love the first bullet… awesome.

  • @jkcallas:disqus Wrote a post similar to @dannybrow:twitter check it out http://jureklepic.com/2011/09/28/is-klout-really-accessing-your-protected-tweets/

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  • As a business owner what I really don’t like about this is the fear factor. Many will worry that their potential customers will be turned away if they don’t have a so-called respectable Klout score. 

    I personally couldn’t care less about Klout, unless it costs me revenue. At the moment no one has ever talked to me about Klout in person so I’m not losing sleep over it. In fact, it’s marked as spam in my mail programme. 

    But like many things, I can see it’s in Klout’s interest to get us business owners tied into the fear factor.  How they manage to do that is another thing. 

    Maybe the self-titled social media gurus will push and push until we’re all worrying about our Klout. Or maybe it will be another online DoDo.  

    A friend recently confided that she felt guilty she didn’t have a business blog. Even though she has a thriving business. I hope we never get to the day someone worries about the impact of Klout on the bottom line. 

  • I love
    that you respond to the majority of your blog comments. That’s what it’s all
    about – the conversation. Way to practice what you preach!

    Rachel

  • Yes, there is something to the interaction with influencers.  It’s the same way in real life. If you have the ear of the president, you will be more influential than if you have the ear of me. : )

  • Literally standing?  I want that you know. : )

  • Sher A Hart

    I keep seeing posts about Klout on twitter and never cared. I never cared about twitter or blog followers either until agents rejected my query within hours. One more chore to take away from my family time, already too rare. But then I’m probably too new to twitter to even have a Klout score. I think I’ll ignore it as long as I can. Burying my head in the sand at least until Christmas.

  • “Create and curate great content.  Nurture a network of people who care about you. Be kind. The influence will take care of itself.” Perfect…no add here Mark 😉

    Thanks for sharing!

    RB

  • Thanks Ryan.

  • Yeah, you have a Klout score, you just haven’t discovered it yet!

  • You know, I don’t think Klout is evil. They had an idea, pursued it, and built a business. Good for them.

    I think all the ugliness surrounding Klout, and the social web in general, is a reflection of our own broken humanity. We’re obsessing about turning tweets into a competition, and meaningless social badges into our own self-worth. It’s everywhere. Klout is just the mirror.

  • Thanks Cammi!

  • Actually in the housing market, 450 is the new 600. I’m living the dream : )

  • I have rarely seen a marketing program that results in the emotion of hate succeed. Here’s what Klout knows — they must protect their algorithm. I think this move was an authentic attempt to get things straight. My view.

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  • Anonymous

    Great stuff Mark, and I hope you had a pleasant tennis game w/ your wife. =)

    / Viggo 

  • I don’t have the full statistics, but I must question this one assertion: “I admire Klout CEO Joe Fernandez but he created a hole for himself by announcing that the new changes would affect most people’s scores very little. If he just would have said most scores will drop for a re-set in the name of accuracy, it would have gone down a lot better.”

    It seems to me that the statement from Klout may actually be correct, and certain circles may fail to see this because of skewed samples.

    Let me elaborate:
    * The scores of many social media marketers are down
    * Many social media marketers are highly active users of Twitter
    * Klout keeps a score on almost everyone who uses social networking sites, including Facebook, which has a lot more users than Twitter
    * A large number of these people have low scores and were not affected by the changes at all

    For example, out of my 67 FB friends who do not use other social networking sites, 10 increased their scores because of the changes, and the other 57 remained steady.

    On the other hand, the Klout scores of influencers who I follow on Twitter are almost all down. However, most people are not high-ranking influencers.

    So, if you hang out with social media marketers, you get a skewed view of the scores. Then again, perhaps Joe Fernandez should have been more specific on the consequences for various user groups instead of making a general statement on all scores.

  • Excellent point. I had thought of that too. The noisy ones are the who dropped a lot. Not an accurate sample. I stand corrected.

  • Always. : )

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  • I hear what you’re saying but it’s the academic cynic I used to be before I went over to the dark side (!) that makes me hesitate about Klout.
    I guess my own approach to marketing and culture in general is very much underscored by the work of academics like Fredric Jameson and Jean Baudrillard. They seem to have envisioned a society driven by the processes of late-capitalism where we are locked in to a network of communications where we have problems positioning “the self”.
    Baudrillard, in particular, talks about the “networks of connection and communication” and, writing in the 60s and 70s, he presents a vision of a society where we are left cold by the networks of communication –TVs everywhere, the screen invading every level of the culture – and the ideology of late-capitalism permeating and consuming everything, including critique, and turning it to its own gain. Our thoughts, language, and ultimately our essential self, are replaced (he talks of “fatal strategies”) by the electronic networks. He’s writing very much about the crisis of the essential self in a technological era.
    Jameson argues that when entering the Bonaventure Hotel in LA we have difficulty is positioning ourselves in the architecture of the postmodern, late-capitalist cultural landscape.
    To my mind, this is Klout: an algorithm that sweeps us up, including us, even if we try and resist, reducing us to an easily digestible figure of apparent worth (value, or clout!) . We can’t position ourselves and are positioned by the “late-capitalist network of communication”.
    From a business point of view Klout could potentially (will??) shape business decisions and to my mind echoes what Baudrillard talks about in terms of the crisis of the self: my personal recommendation becomes nothing compared to the recommendation of the system (i.e. Klout).
    Baudrillard is quite fun, if academic philosophy can be considered fun. His “America” is a good coffee-table book place to start.

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  • Marty

    Klout had Lady Gaga leading the Dalai Lama by at least 10 points. That tells me all I need to know about this miracle of our connected age. According to Klout, their scoring algorithm “measures influence based on your ability to drive action.” Klout will and is used by the marketing community to ultimately help them sell more of their employers stuff. And Klout is of course tickled to death that the advertising world is knocking at their door. But fundamentally, we as marketers have two opposing forces to contend with; one, the desire to drive more revenue, and second, the general ugly reality of how the whole “social” thing has been hijacked by dollars. 

  • LOVE this post! Just so much truth to it, Mark. Bravo!  And this is my VERY favorite part: “Create and curate great content.  Nurture a network of people who care about you. Be kind. The influence will take care of itself.”

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  • I guess I’m too much of a realist to be surpirsed that the social web has been hijacked by dollars. I suppose it would not exist as we know it without dollars.  It is interesting to teorize though … what would a commercial-free social network look like?  How would it survive?

  • Thanks for the kind comment!

  • Fantastic comment!

  • I dig these two statements: 

    ” In the long run, Klout doesn’t give a damn if you’re happy with your Klout score or not. You’re not their customer. As long as they deliver the goods to brands we can go ahead and howl all we want.”

    “C’mon folks let’s get real. Go make something. Go sell something.” 

    Particularly the latter one. I’m stuck in that camp. Head down and busy making stuff. Cuz really, that, and making an impact, is all that matters. 

  • Thanks for pointing out that no, we’re not their customer! I think a lot of folks believe that, but as you said, “a-ha-ha-ha-ha… nope!” The additional funding proves the point that the complaining everywhere hasn’t shaken the faith of the People Who Really Matter to Klout. I don’t know how they got the deal, but they got it, and they’ll do what their investors say to do.

  • Amen Ricardo.  Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Jen Zingsheim

    “In an information-dense society, it is an easy short-cut to determine worth.”

    Change that to “In an information-dense society, it is a LAZY short-cut to determine worth,” and I’ll agree. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

    These are the same employers who are going to b*tch about how much time said employee is spending on social networks once they hire him/her.

    I’ll admit: I’m truly baffled that an employer would use a third-party tool like Klout for hiring. That companies are using Klout perks as a marketing channel isn’t surprising. That HR departments would place that much stock in it is.

  • The vision and potential of Klout has been clouded by their errors (most of which have been silly) and bloggers who really don;t understand the business model. It’s not about us. They have tapped into something important here and almost nobody gets it. 

  • I know this guy who hires people for social media management. He says that a Klout score is a good indication that they “get it.” He swears by it. Something to think about at least. Of course you would WANT those people to be fooling around on social media all day! : ) 

    Thanks for sharing your perspective Jen! 

  • LOL! I LOVE IT!  If 60 is the new 80 then I jumped 20 points! Wait – I dropped 10 points.. Who’s on 1st?  (I also love what you did with their logo! RICH!!!)  I love your post and glad you took the time to write it.  I’m sure I’ll share it with my friends, followers, acquaintances, etc.. 🙂 

    I have been itching to write my own post on Klout, (and I really don’t care that my score dropped either) but it is as you say – it’s been done and done again.  You are well spoken, level headed, and make even the overdone topic interesting.  Kudos to you!  I don’t think I could do any better so I’ll just share yours! 🙂

  • Thanks for bearing through it! I’m weary of the subject since I ave immersed myself in it for the last six months! Appreciate the comment!

  • Jen Zingsheim

    That’s actually part of my concern. I’m not looking right now, perfectly happy with my job. My Klout score is 42 (at least it was last time I checked) which is fine but not stunning and certainly not a standout. I can assure you that I do “get it.” Klout is (or at least was) heavily weighted toward activity, which given my other duties at work is sometimes just not an option. That hiring managers are saying “this person gets it this person doesn’t” based on that score is troubling to me. It’s not an indication of who gets it and who doesn’t–it’s an indication of who has the time dedicated versus those that don’t. I’ve opted not to automate tweets, etc. as I don’t think it’s authentic. That’s my choice, and is more of a decision on how I personally choose to use tools. Does that mean I “don’t get it?”

    My Klout score dropped when I went on vacation, does that mean I don’t “get it”?

    It just makes me very uneasy that a large part of social media is supposed to be interaction between people–yet social hiring managers are looking right past the person in front of them and going directly to the tool.

    I don’t have a problem with companies using Klout for marketing purposes, it works great for that as your examples above bear out. But hiring, and the college professor using it for grades? No.

  • People are irrational. Many also do not spend the time to understand what these numbers mean. I think that is a fact we will have to live with. Lots of decisions are based on credit scores.  Is that an indication of your integrity? No?  Your willingness to repay a loan? No. Your ability at this moment to repay a loan?  No. Yet, fair or not, understood or not, it is a short-cut in an information-dense world. 

  • FB is using your data and you have no choice in the matter. Google … same. This is the economics of the Internet.

  • While I still can’t take Klout very seriously, and I still take issue with a lot of the concerns others have mentioned (such as privacy and inability to opt out – or the fact that you never had to opt in in the first place), I don’t mind this score drop. And there’s one reason why. Your Klout score dropped more than mine did! I’m coming for you Mark! 🙂

  • Jen Zingsheim

    I get your point–but there is far more logic and hard data in a credit score than a Klout score. A credit score is actually pretty predictive of a person’s reliability to repay a loan, as it is looking at past behavior to predict a future result (and it to a certain extent it does examine your ability at this point to repay a loan, which is why utilization ratios are used in FICO). The problem with Klout is that the holes in its algorithm (from penalizing a person for going on vacation to providing scores for people who might not even realize they *have* a score, thereby blindsiding them in a job hunt) make it far less accurate from a predictive standpoint. I won’t belabor the point (and thank you for responding), but there’s no way anyone can convince me that Klout is useful for anything beyond marketing and advertising.

  • Bring it Farber. : ) 

  • Klout’s argument over the vacation thing is … if you leave work for a week, are you influential at work? No. If you leave the social web for a week your influence wanes too. Just a perspective.

    I am seeing a lot of interesting applications for this from customer service to PR. I think we need to keep an open mind of what this COULD be, not what it is right now, which is the slient movie stage of its development. My 2 cents : ) 

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  • John Gonzales

    I checked out your blog about the beautiful people. It looks like they are doing something similar to Klout but involves hot people? They also give you perks but way better than Klout’s perks. One thing for sure, most perks on Klout are crap. The perks I want is either ‘full’ or ‘not qualified’!

  • How was the tennis?!?  While you were gone your Kout score dropped a point! HA! My only concern with Klout is privacy so I disconnected my FB account – I guess there goes my score! Shrug – who cares. What’s funny to me is that people who were never on FB are scurrying over there to increase activity to up their scores. Is it that serious? I must have missed a memo  somewhere. Thanks for sharing Mark!

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