Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why I Quit Klout. Plus Bonus Comic.

You don't have to be a "person of influence" to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they've taught me. Scott Adams
Klout is a company that bills itself as the "standard for influence" in social networking. It currently ranks over 100 million social networks users by a proprietary Klout Score.

I registered on Klout as soon as I heard about the service because I liked the idea of having good metrics to evaluate how well I provide value to my social network. I hate to admit it, but it was also fun to try to figure out how to improve my score and compare it to other people's. Unfortunately, it turned out that a Klout score doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of one's contributions, or encourage actions that are in the best interest of the community.

Here are a few examples of strategies that would raise your score but degrade the intrinsic value of the social stream:
  • Decide who to follow based upon Klout rather than by the intrinsic value and relevance of what they post. Of course, if someone doesn't follow you back, dump their ass because they'll bring your score down.
  • Pander to high Klout people. Play to their ego. Reply to their posts and bait them into responding.
  • Make decisions about what to post based on viral-potential. The more sensational the better. 
  • Don't post anything that is unlikely to be re-shared multiple times or stimulate replies.
  • Block low Klout people who follow you but never retweet or reshare your posts. Dump them from your network before they ruin your amplification score.
Even if no one tried to game the system, there is a fundamental problem with any service that attempts define the value of individuals on social networks through a proprietary algorithm, especially when they publish scores on people who have not opted in

Finally, we're not Klout's customers, we're their product. Their customers are the businesses who pay for access to the influential people Klout tracks. Personally, I'm not willing to whore out my social network for perks like discount coupons and free movie passes. Now maybe if they offered a free iPad?

So that's why I quit. How about you? Or do you want to keep playing Klout Jeopardy.

Klout Jeopardy


R. said...

I refuse to take it seriously.

And I'm quite annoyed I can't use Black Math Experiment's "You Cannot Kill David Arquette" song as the basis of giving David +K's for Adamantium, Superfly, The Wheel, Fire, and the Electric Toothbrush. (JUMP!)


Sean Kleefeld said...

Personally, I always thought the idea of "measuring" influence using a single number sounded pretty arbitrary anyway. It sounds a lot like that old grade school bit where you had your Best Friend, your Second Best Friend, your Third Best Friend, etc.

Botgirl Questi said...

It's hard to believe that some company has the balls to come up with some proprietary system, assign rankings to 100,000+ people who mostly don't opt in and then claim to be "the standard".

Yordie Sands said...

ok... silly me (/me blushes), I went and tried out this Klout thang. I was just curious. So far, I don't seem to have much Klout (24) this morning, but had to go through hoops to get it there.

DeNovo Broome said...

I have an old meme in my purse, just let me find it.

Make Social Capital Fast with only a few hours a week! NO INVESTMENT NEEDED!

...there are some days that I miss the blink tag...

Skylar Smythe said...

Do some reading re: Involver and Google+ ... and Klout perks and incentives.

Business loves it. I think consumers are going to love a new kind of perk/incentive advertising.

Non-business types have no use for it :) Agree. Much the way marketers observe and know about but do not play ... Farmville.

Klout will make more sense to more people next year. ;) Then I'll write back with a clever "told you so".

DeNovo Broome said...

You lost me at "Consumers."

You may address me as Citizen, or Milady or just Dee. But of all my kinks and quirks, depersonalization is not one of them.

Indeed, I have an allergy to any scheme ... and I use that term consciously ... that depends on great piles of unwitting, uninformed, easily influenced people acting in concert in reaction to bait... I mean, "incentives."

This is yesterday's concept. At best. First, because it's barely ethical.

But more importantly, it's an typical MBA approach to people, marketing and civilization, people already know that approach by it's stench and both technology and opinion leaders are moving away from that mass-market model.

Consider this - as someone who MIGHT have some Klout - would I be better off to "leverage" it through your model, in a way that inextricably ties MY influence to your model, or would I be better off to walk around you and build a more focused and deliberate network?

Let us recall something about your network. (which is similar in concept to G+)... it's not "people" you want to influence. It's people who are willing to use their disposable income in ways I might suggest.

However I might care to do that. And I will be influenced in doing that with whatever beads and trinkets you may deign to offer me?

No, I think this will go the way of blogvertising, and rather quickly at that.

Botgirl Questi said...

Skylar: Sorry it took so long for your comment to show up. Comments on older posts seem to automatically get caught by the Blogger spam filter, which I don't check regularly.

As to the substance of your comment, I don't think the problem is that people are too uneducated to get it now and it will "make sense to more people next year." I think the opposite is more likely. Because the more I learned about their methodology and the more deeply I considered how gamification would impact social networking, the less I liked it. It's not just another case of a company trying to our community. Klout actually pushes us to commoditize ourselves.

DeNovo: I agree with you that Klout is mostly a marketing scheme that adds little or no value outside of ego gratification for the clueless and a few trinkets for some of the participants.