Unsettling Question about #Klout

Recently, the social media metric company Klout caused a furor by changing their analytic to redistribute  scoring weight more evenly  across all of the platforms they track. This caused folks who are heavy Twitter users like myself to see significant score drops. Okay, I don’t particularly like the results of this change but can at least understand it. However, there’s  a far more unsettling question about Klout that has come to my attention.

Be Social & get punished?

My good friend Jure KLEPIC posted an article that  should ALARM SM pro’s, Brands & PR Reps alike. In this post Jure includes an email from a Klout staffer that suggests that his networking Klout score may have dropped because he had engagement from “less influential people on those days than on other days”  If this is true , the implications are huge, both for Social media professionals and brands that base any part of their hiring decisions on Klout scores.

Social Climbing  & how it can hurt your Brand

It would be naive to not expect some gaming of any system that measures social worth to slant in our favor.However if you are a Company or PR rep looking to talk directly with more potential consumers, how will you feel if you find out that the SM professional you just hired is really a social Climber who looks at people’s Klout scores using  a FireFox add on  to help them decide whether or not to respond to someone, that people who could become customers of yours are potentially being alienated by being excluded from the conversation? How would you feel as a social media pro to learn that a brand passed you over in favor of working with someone who engages primarily based on Klout Score?

Social Media metrics need to factor inclusion

Social Media professionals  should be judged by their ability to engage with people from all walks of life. Helping others, reaching out & sparking conversations based on an ethic of inclusion, should be the criteria  true reach metric measures are based on.

 

Full disclosure: I have enjoyed the Klout Perks program & am a member of the Klout Squad. I also hope to hear  that this Unsettling question about Klout isn’t true, that in fact our metrics will rise as we reach out & engage with others, that we will in fact be rewarded & not punished for being social.

What do you think?

About Jean Parks

Jean Parks is a chocolate & cupcake loving, computer & gadget addict from Boston, MA

Comments

  1. Chloe says:

    About three weeks ago I went through my twitter feed and unfollowed 140 twitterers–bots, inactives, and people I just didn’t care to following anymore. My klout went from 63 to 58 and I was sad even though this is pretty much a meaningless metric for me.

    Now I’m holding steady at 59 but it makes me a bit angry to even think that if I tweet back someone with less klout than me then that hurts my klout score. It makes me even more angry to think that somebody won’t tweet me now because that will hurt their klout score. You shouldn’t be penalized for being nice to people.

    I FB more than twitter and most people I know on FB have low klout scores. Should I dump my friends and look for friends with higher scores? And how will I get the cool kids to notice me now when noticing me might harm them socially? Damn, I feel like I’m back in jr hi all over again.

  2. Hey Jean,

    We believe everyone has Klout and when *anyone* interacts and takes actions based on your content it has a positive impact on your Klout. Yes, if your content gets acted upon by Barack Obama or Lady Gaga this impacts your Klout more, intuitively we believe this makes sense. But, you are never penalized when low Klout Score people engage with you — that is always a net positive.

    As per Jure’s point in particular — his network impact score was going down, which does indicate that fewer highly influential people are talking to him. If you are regularly getting your content retweeted by top influencers and that stops, yes it will impact your Score — but it’s not because you are being penalized for the engagement from others (any action driven based on your content helps your Score), it’s because of the lack of action from top influencers.

    If any of this is unclear, I’d be happy to clarify more. It is similar to in Google PageRank, how getting linked to from any site is good, but getting linked to from high impact sites means more.

    @Chloe to clarify even further, we don’t score based on your actions but the actions of others. Whether you tweet Barack Obama or your neighbor with a Klout Score of 10 makes no difference in our Score, it is the actions that your content drives that matter. And, if you do tweet a top influencer, you are always improving their Klout, even if you have a low Score.

    Thanks,
    Megan Berry
    Marketing Manager, Klout
    megan@klout.com

  3. ellen says:

    I saw that Jean (the thing about higher VS lower ) scores interacting and just cringed. It’s like Klout doesn’t really want ‘normal’ interactions… I mean are we supposed to look at someone’s Klout score before we speak to them, respond to them or have anything to do with them? It is hogwash if that is the case.

    Will my questions go unanswered if I am asking someone I know is knowledgeable in an area because I have a lower Klout score and it will affect theirs? If so, there is a nice little unfollow button on Twitter and on Facebook for that situation.

    I just hope Klout doesn’t turn into a little ‘club’ of people with high scores stroking each others egos for some Klout perk or a chance that some PR firm will notice them (or they think will be noticed)

    As far as PR brands picking and choosing based on Klout scores- well thats plain stupid too. As you know, I am not a blogger but enter contests- there is a HUGE amount of blogs giving contest entries by giving them Klout. False inflation of Klout scores don’t reflect how good of a blogger someone is, only that they are good at manipulating the system.

    Very nice post, you bring up alot of important points!

  4. Jean Parks says:

    Ellen,
    Lol, I literally have steam coming out of ears I’m so hopped up over this topic, let me just say for now that ALL of my subscribers & the folks I tweet with have value to me. YOU are worth 10 Obama’s in my world. All of you do MATTER!

  5. Jean Parks says:

    Megan,

    First, thank you for weighing in here, on a Sunday night no less :)

    The problem with the scoring method you’ve described is that it sets up a system where people are tripping over each other to suck up to people whom Klout has deemed to be “influential” all in hopes of a retweet . People in big numbers are obviously making choices about whom to respond to based on their Klout scores as there’s a FireFox plug in to help them do it. This is concerning on a lot of different levels.

    I just feel in my gut that the measure of a social media professional’s true reach has to be deeper than that in order to have real meaning . If we spend the bulk of our time currying favor with power tweeters & ignoring those with low Klout, how many potentially terrific people are we missing out on?Social media has got to be about more than getting famous people to utter our names or it’s really just a time suck of social climbing.

    Thank you again for giving me the respect to stop in here & try to clarify things, I really do appreciate that!

  6. Jean, thank you for including me in your post. Megan thank you for your detailed answer as well on Jean’s post.

    In your response you did confirm that if a user is engaging with a user who has lower score, that his score will drop. That has been said, Social Media is about engagement and not really about popularity or “let me talk only to a person who has better score them me”.

    So Klout is changing the landscape of Social Media and implementing or forcing and online discrimination. Let me tell you IS WRONG. This is not how influence works.

    If to believe Klout and thanks god we don’t have same scoring system in offline live, then president would already be thrown down from his position, as he does go and talk to “less” influential people. Lady Ga Ga should not sing anymore and i think i should call MTV and tell them that they should not broadcast anymore as sometimes she act’s on call of cause. Same to Angelina Jolie and others who are involved in charity organizations.

    I know Megan you are only employee of Klout, nothing personal towards you as you are not the one who can decide to make changes.

    Bit this might be an end of Klout if you guys don’t get some real straight acts together. Discriminating or punishing people based on their influential level is not way to go. Not in Social Media. SOCIAL mean PEOPLE not scores.

  7. Jean Parks says:

    Jure,

    Aside from the troubling discriminatory aspects of these metrics on a humane level, there’s another issue that’s very troubling.Many in our circle take MONEY from brands to help them put their product in front of more consumers or to help them begin a conversation with their customers. What company in their right mind’s wants to pay a social climbing social media pro who uses Klout scores to help him decide whether or not to respond to somebody?

    The stay at home Mom who tweets to me asking for help with her computer might not have much pull with Klout but she is a Queen to the companies who pay me to represent them, if I don’t respond to her based on her klout score, I not only alienate her & turn her away from any brand that I represent but I also alienate any family member or friend that she might share that experience with. Word of mouth can make you or break you & thanks to social media it can do so globally in a matter of minutes.

    My choice is to keep it real, to endorse brands I like & think my friends will like & to engage with anybody who approaches me pleasantly. If that lowers my Klout score, so be it!

    Thank you Jure for your postings & for your friendship, I love chatting with you on twitter and hope to meet you in real time soon :)

  8. Jure says:

    Jean,

    i agree with you and do hope we meet soon in real life too.

    The best solution for Klout would be to close down the public access and let them sell their perks how ever they want, as long as scores are not public and they dont effect our lives or businesses.

    I am sure Lady GaGa can’t wait to get $5 off Subway sandwich and tweet about it whole day, as President he would love to Tweet and share his experience of Axe Gel on twitter and facebook, i think he would even include in his weekly brief speech at White House and tell to American People who good Klout Perks really are.

    And lets forget Kardashian’s they already schedule all the tweets for upcoming free windows phone…

    Well did i told you that Klout looks to me sometimes like really bad knock off of Hermes bag, you know when orange is not really Hermes orange :) Well let’s not forget they are still in beta :)

  9. ellen says:

    The other question here too is- what happens to your Klout score if you interact with someone who isnt signed up with Klout? (heaven forbid) Since it (Klout) is hooked into twitter can they ‘see’ that?

    Jean I can see where this would make you hopping mad.

    http://www.learnersdictionary.com/search/clout1
    1clout /ˈklaʊt/ noun
    plural clouts
    1 [noncount] : the power to influence or control situations

    is this where it is going?

  10. The Nerdy Nurse says:

    I’m pretty annoyed by the change.
    Twitter is my favorite form of social media and it is like we are punished for it.

    It’s a pity they don’t consider blogs into klout score. That would really throw a monkey wrench into the equation, now wouldn’t it?

  11. Robert Dempsey says:

    Hi Jean – I think the problem is a lot worse than this.

    I’ve disconnected all of my accounts (minus Twitter which I can’t seem to do) and requested that Klout disable my account. After taking a deeper look at how Klout determines influence (as you mention in your post) and how they get people into their system in the first place (by creating accounts for them without their permission and assigning them a score) I decided to opt-out of their game.

    It’s irresponsible of anyone to make a hiring decision based on a Klout score. They aren’t divulging how they determine the score aside from the comment from Megan that you mention. Basically if you aren’t in the clique you aren’t influential.

    I’ve built businesses interacting with people Klout doesn’t find influential. Clients pay for my services because they know I can help them, so I’d say I influenced them – Klout can’t measure that.

    To call themselves the “standard” when they create accounts for people is ridiculous. And I’ve heard many bring up privacy concerns with data access inside of Facebook.

    I’m opting out of their game.

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