Right after my last post on Klout, I wandered over to Twitter and joined a vibrant conversation with a few folks who I believe to be top influencers with serious clout. While I was still enthusiastic about the changes Klout was making, I hadn’t given any thought to how these changes would impact actual “scores.” Why? Because I don’t care about the Klout score.
What excited me about the Klout changes was that it could actually be something I could leverage with clients to reach “influencers” around specific topics. The idea that a user could create their own topic about a brand and become recognized for those activities is certainly appealing. What’s not exciting about the changes is that they dramatically changed the scores of loyal users and people who had worked diligently to keep their Klout scores high.
During the conversation with David Armano, Ian Gertler, Marcus Nelson and others (Jeremiah Owyang and Robert Scoble were casualties of the #kloutapocalypse), it became clear that the changes made to Klout we’re done without consideration of the core user. While most agreed that the Klout score has and will continue to lack the needed context to be valuable, the change to whatever algorithm Klout uses created a negative experience. One that removed the little credibility and value Klout had.
So why did Klout change the score?
Because no one else cares.
Klout was utilized and evangelized by marketers and the social media enthusiasts, but the regular person could care less about Klout and would never even consider themselves influential enough to have a score. From a sheer economics standpoint, Klout’s future was limited. However, adjust the algorithm to give more weight to Facebook and other tools used by the general public and maybe a broader audience will begin to realize their value and potential influence.
By making these changes, Klout increases the pool of people that may be interested in the product and can hopefully bring in folks looking for free stuff based on their level of influence (free stuff = Perks). When more people come in and see the potential for free stuff, they may just talk more about brands in hopes that they too can get something free if they only talk about that brand a bit more on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
Not a bad tactic if you ask me. Now, with every topic available under the sun entered by users, you can have Klout in anything. Klout can in turn take that data to brands and say, the people who love and influence your brand the most are right here. Use our Perks program and you can build a relationship with them and get them to keep talking about you. It all makes the timing of the Wall Street Journal piece seem a little more calculated.
Klout needs numbers. It doesn’t need just the marketer or the social media enthusiast. It needs grandma. It needs your neighbors. Otherwise, we’ll all eventually tune out. Unfortunately, the change in the algorithm makes no sense and what was once a game is now incredibly ridiculous. How can someone in my network who is only on Facebook and has only 100 friends have a Klout score 10 points lower than I do?
My advice, dump the “Klout Score” and tell it like it is. Quantify the amount of times an individual talks about a product or a brand and allow the brand to provide offers and messaging to those folks to keep them talking. Klout would be better off and could avoid the mysterious algorithm debate and everyone would still be able to get free stuff. It’s not about being “The Standard of Influence” measurement score, it’s about enabling the people who talk the most, to easily be heard by the people they are talking about. that’s not influence. It’s noise.
Amazing. On one hand there is something amazingly valuable about Klout. On the other, there’s a bit of fluff that just creates trouble. Be one or the other Klout.
Oh… and after almost 50 tweets with all of those fine folks with large followings… my Klout score went up 1 Point.
If you want to read more, here are two great posts by another legitimate influencer, Danny Brown: