Is Klout Losing Its Kred?

There has long been disquiet and scepticism surrounding the social media ‘influence measurement tool’ Klout.

I’ve seen most of this on Twitter over many months (and not just recently, following changes to Klout’s algorithm). I’ve seen tweets from people questioning their Klout topics of influence, questioning the Klout scores of ‘bots’ and spammers, and so on. Another example is this vignette from Ken Mueller, discussing some perplexing Klout perks he’s been given

This week some social media leaders have decided to delete their Klout accounts. In the main, this doesn’t appear to be related to personal disgruntlement at a drop in score. It seems to be related to a dissatisfaction with the principles behind Klout.

I’ve decided to keep my Klout account. These are my reasons:

  1. I want to keep in touch with how Klout evolves.
  2. I’m not entirely convinced it’s evil yet.
  3. I don’t mind what my Klout score is –  because my clients don’t mind.

Most of my clients don’t know Klout exists. My measure of influence with clients comes from my face-to-face time with them. It comes from my 20 years of communications industry experience and passion for the social media space. It comes from my growing social media case studies. And it comes from word of mouth and social media referrals from other spheres, primarily Twitter (and this blog!)

Going up or down? Klout.
Going up or down? Klout.

If Klout sticks around and gains resonance in the wider community, some clients may refer to it. But I’d like to think they have the maturity to know that one number doesn’t sum up a consultant’s entire career.

However, I’ve enjoyed reading the recent debate about Klout.

The people over at PeerIndex posted a very measured response, urging people to keep calm. Among the points:

  • Social media metrics are in their infancy. Social media has only been mainstream for a few years.
  • No one agrees on a single definition of influence. Because there isn’t a single definition.
  • Having many players with different approaches bodes well for both companies and consumers.

Neville Hobson wrote about why he has quit Klout. When submitting his ‘delete account’ form on Klout, his reason for leaving the platform was “Thanks, but I no longer believe your service offers me any value.” He stated that he simply didn’t trust Klout.

Neville cited Lynnette Young who, after quitting Klout, said on her G+ account “I no longer feel dirty and hypocritical”.

He also cited Rohan Jay Miller, who on Social Media Today urged people to ‘delete your Klout profile now’. Miller said “The fundamental evil of Klout is that it’s a venture capital-backed company looking to leverage into a big IPO payday  and the only value proposition they offer is their ability to identify, train and exploit people they can sell to advertisers as “key influencers”’. Wow. I don’t know about Klout’s capital-backing, but that sounded scary. (It’s worth reading the comments below Miller’s blog post, including comments about whether Klout had removed the ability to delete your own account).

Of course, now I want to hear Klout’s response – particularly to Miller. Them’s some strong words he has used!

But it seems Klout CEO and founder Joe Fernandez hasn’t tweeted in response to the ‘deleting my Klout account’ posts. He did retweet a post by Mike Johansson on Social Media Today, but that revolves around analysing the PR backlash using Alterian sentiment measurement.

The official Klout blog doesn’t appear to have a response.

What does Klout say to the accusation that it’s preparing to “exploit people they can sell to advertisers”?

I’d be interested to know. As a PR professional, it’s not a charge I’d encourage any client to let stand without response …

Related Prakkypedia post you may want to read: The Age of Measurement.

(My thanks to Lee Hopkins  for recently sharing his Klout reflection on Facebook. That was the inspiration for today’s post).

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ric says:

    I’m not sure that Klout is any more or less “evil” than Facebook, Google, or any of a dozen others who want to capture information about us and sell it to advertisers … that’s why they’re all priced at zero dollars (they’re not “free” – we pay with attention and personal information).
    Our problem with all of them is that we don’t control what information goes to whom, when, and for what benefit to us in return for it.

    I’ve deleted my Klout accounts … not out of protest at their (mis)use of my information, but because until this blew up recently, I didn’t realise you COULD. When I found that out, I did what I wanted to do a while back – because I think the attempts at measuring “influence” on the Internet are too simplistic and gross. Influence is too situational to be captured by a number.

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