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Why I’m Done With Klout (Again)

724 Words. Plan about 4 minute(s) to read this.

Klout, for those unfamiliar, has for years been a vaguely useful tool for measuring social media influence. You plug your social media accounts into Klout, gears spin up in the cloud, and Klout spits out a score from 1-100. The higher the score, the greater your social media influence is supposed to be. As best as I can tell, the Klout algorithm is driven largely by the number of followers you have, whether or not you tweet, and how often your tweets get a reaction. Or your Facepalm postings. Or G+. Critically, Klout does NOT measure independent WordPress blogs (like this one), meaning authors who primarily engage their audience via writing (or podcasting) are not able to add page views or content downloads to their Klout score.

So…meh. Klout has been interesting to me only because some marketing folks think it’s interesting. Since marketing folks pay some of my bills, I like to cater to their point of view. You want a Klout score? Here you go. At least, that was true until today. This morning, I noticed that my Klout app had been updated on my iPhone. On the rare occasions I check Klout, there’s one thing I’m interested in doing: correlating my current score with the previous day’s social media activity, so that I have some sense of how Klout is determining the seemingly arbitrary fluctuations in the score. However, the Klout app has changed. What Klout wants you to do now is use their platform to share content. That in turn will help drive your score. The Klout home page explains how this works.

Be Original: Klout suggests shareable content that your audience hasn’t seen yet.

Get a Reaction: Create content that strikes a chord with your friends, fans, and followers.

See the Impact: Track how retweets, likes, and shares change your Klout Score.

This is comedy written in very pretty Web 2.0. Be original…by sharing the content Klout wants you to share. Get a reaction…by creating content (Wow, really?? Now if only Klout actually engaged with the content I do create). See the impact…of an algorithm that measures a few social media networks but doesn’t measure anything close to the totality of an individual’s influence. This is a joke, right?

Go home, Klout – you’re drunk. Whatever small amount of usefulness you had is truly gone now, demolished by the $200M Lithium wrecking ball. You took a good idea, executed badly, sold your soul, and now the ride of relevance is over before it ever really got started.

I opted out of Klout this morning for reason “Other”, explaining my stance thusly:

The repurposing of Klout into a content sharing platform is not useful to me. I have many ways to share content already. I don’t need Klout for this. The new system is just overbearing. The iPhone app is completely useless now – I removed it. I have zero interest in sharing content via Klout as a way to drive a score. It’s an invalidation of the entire Klout measurement metrics model, from my perspective. I need Klout to do one thing – measure my social media influence across all the networks where I have engagement, something Klout has been mediocre at for a long time now. I wanted Klout to get better at mining data from the social media networks I interact with – come to the places I am. Like adding independent WordPress blogs for instance, somewhere that I have significant reach. That would have made Klout a better tool for me to point my customers to so that they could measure my influence and help them determine why it’s good for them spend money using my channels to discuss their brand. You guys have blown it here, I think. Klout was always a marginally useful tool at best. Now it’s just pointless.

If you’re in marketing, you need a better way to discover who the influencers are. My recommendation is to engage in the communities you want to market to. Make friends with those people. Find out who matters. It’s more work, but you’ll end up with something much more nuanced and real than a Klout score. You’ll have a relationship with a human being who knows other human beings. That’s where social is *really* at. Community – it’s not just a word.