Stop the Social Puppetry for Klout and Other Influence Metrics!

PamMoore
Pam Moore Owner/Partner, Marketing Nutz, LLC

Posted on October 31st 2011

Stop the Social Puppetry for Klout and Other Influence Metrics!

If you have been online Twitter or Facebook this week it would be hard to miss the chatter on Klout and their new algorithm.  A new algorithm launched on October 26, 2011.

There were strong arguments for and against the change.  Although Klout stated “a majority of users will see their scores stay the same or go up”, there seems to be more that dropped than not. Many saw a drop of of 15+ points. My personal score dropped 19 points. I am yet to receive an explanation or a response to my email from Klout as to the change and to several other very important questions I asked them.

As Danny Brown summarized in the article, “Is Klout Using Our Privacy to Violate our Privacy?”  there are concerns that Klout is creating and publicly publishing profiles of minors set to private on Facebook  for people who haven’t ever signed up for Klout.  This is true for both adult and minor accounts. For example, one of the people who Klout claims influences me has never signed up for Klout. I speak to this person infrequently on Facebook yet he shows as being an influencer to me.  Although I like this person dearly, there are definitely other people who influence me daily in comparison.

The above creation of profiles of minors is the most concerning fact I have read to date regarding Klout. There are several case studies being shared online where children (who are minors) now have a profile on Klout even though they are set to private on Facebook.  Obviously this is an issue and at the time of this post I have not seen, heard nor read a response from Klout acknowledging or explaining why this is happening.

There are too many details regarding the changed Klout algorithm for me to explain on this post.  Complaining and explaining the algorithm is also not the purpose of this post.  Instead I want to put these numbers into perspective for myself and you. I am going to provide a brief history and some opinion. I also welcome and encourage your opinion after you have read the entire post.

Before Klout – A Look Back… 

Let’s think back to a time when there was no influence measurement score.  Those of us who have been using social media platforms since the early days can remember being excited for free tools such as Tweet Reach, Tweet Cloud, Social Mention, Tweet Analyzer and more. The reason is we were so eager to get any measurement we could to justify our time spent on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, commenting on blogs and the list goes on and on.

Then along came Klout. They explained themselves as the standard in influence measurement. Since there was no real measurement at the time, some started to believe that Klout was the standard. Even though there were other measurement platforms coming about such as Peer Index, Klout out marketed them to some degree.

iStock 000015597052XSmall Stop the Social Puppetry for Klout and Other Influence Metrics! The Puppetry Begins.

Like puppets we all started doing what Klout told us to do. We installed Chrome plug-ins that told us within the Twitter timeline the Klout scores of our online friends. We gave +Ks, we liked, we shared,we tweeted and retweeted, we talked to the right people, we talked more and we talked less.

This was a dream come true for Facebook as we were feeding the puppet eating data monsters with every click! 

HootSuite and other tools implemented ability to see Klout scores. Medium and enterprise social measurement platforms started putting almost all weight to Klout scores. The scores were then used by businesses of all sizes to prioritize who they respond to, support and engage with online. It impacted customer service, human resources, advertising agencies, social media agencies, new recruits and the list goes on! 

Puppet Trainers Emerged
There were numerous blog posts written about the importance of engaging with people with high influence (i.e., high Klout scores.)  There are people who boldly wrote blog posts and admitted they were prioritizing their online conversations with only people with high Klout scores.

The majority of the social ecosystem were unfortunately becoming puppets. Facebook told us to like, send, share, post more, ask for likes. Twitter told us to retweet, reply to tweets.  If you were a good puppet your score would go up. The more time you spent behaving as a good puppet, the better you hoped your score would be.

Just as I wrote in this post “Forget the Klout Score, What’s Your Social Zoom Factor” I challenge people to ask themselves WHY!  Why and what is it doing for you, your business, and your life to be a good social puppet?

This post could go on for days, which would not be good. So to summarize some of my thoughts and opinions I am going to outline them in bullets. Take them or leave them, they are simply my opinion. I encourage you to share your opinion too. There are no right or wrong answers. However, I ask you to refrain from cursing and bashing of anyone at the individual level who responds here. If you do, your comment will deleted.

My Thoughts on Social Puppetry: 

  • iStock 000016430507XSmall Stop the Social Puppetry for Klout and Other Influence Metrics! We are not puppets. We must refuse to behave like puppets for any score.
  • We are not defined as a human being by our Klout or any other score.
  • Say this loud to yourself daily,  ”I am not my Klout score.  I will not measure my self worth by my Klout score.”
  • What you do in the lives of others offline is what matters. Social media is simply a medium for us to impact business and lives. It’s how we use it and what we use it for that will determine our influence. Our influence in reality is not measured by +Ks, topic lists or other.
  • Be careful what metrics you let influence your actions, your words, your retweets & your life!
  • Question: Why would you want to behave as a puppet for a score that is not standard and is nothing more than a score?
  • Question: Is it really worth a perk to be a puppet?
  • Based upon the recent potential privacy concerns of Klout creating profiles for individuals including children under the age of 13 without permission from Facebook, I have disconnected every network except Twitter. I am connected to many children under 18 years of age in my community and refuse to be a medium for Klout to do such unethical practices and put our children at risk for a monetary gain.
  • I have never and will not ever let Klout or any other influence metric system determine who I should talk to.  Had I done this prior I would have missed out on some of the best personal relationships, client opportunities and partnerships.
  • Educators think twice before basing grades on Klout scores. A professor at New York University threatened to publicly humiliate those with the lowest Klout scores. Watch a summary video hereVideo: The Measured Life. What’s Your Klout?
  • Human resource managers are treading on thin ice if they are basing hiring decisions on Klout scores. I own a social brand, digital marketing and reputation management agency, ZoomFactor. We do NOT base hiring decisions on Klout. Why should you? I look for things like how are they building community, how are people reacting to their content, what is their content, how will our audience and communities react to them and many more.
  • I know there are some professions that are today dependent on the Klout score. Until this recent Klout debacle and the new algorithm I didn’t realize there were so many. I anticipate much change in this area over the coming months.
  • My belief is Klout is a score based on much opinion.  Who ever said the opinion was right? How can you justify behaving as a puppet for a score that is not transparent, algorithm is not documented and main focus appears to be on paid advertising and perks for good puppets?
  • Beware any influence measurement system or company that has a primary objective of generating revenue from advertisers from your data and your scores. The writing is on the wall folks. What you do with it is your decision.
  • Priorities for social engagement should be set based on goals, objectives and data which can validate how you are tracking to achieving set goals and objectives. Only if your business goal is to win perks should all of your effort be put into gaming the Klout system.
  • Pay more attention to metrics that tell you how your audience is responding to your content, engaging with your content, how much time they spend on your website, what content they read the most, are they opting in to your email for the planned call to action etc.? What is the social zoom factor that tells you how your efforts in social media are paying off?
  • Klout stated the new algorithm would be more transparent. Many of us are waiting on the transparency factor.  Sorry Klout, but your graph explaining the distribution of scores is far from transparent. In reality, most don’t believe it as truth considering it already seems to be proven inaccurate by the masses of people seeing major drops in scores.
  • There is much to be explained in the new algorithm. There are numerous case studies this past week where spam accounts with few followers jumped 10-15 points where those that have large, highly engaged communities dropped substantially.
  • Did you know Klout retrofitted & back dated the new algorithm to your past Klout scores?  Even if your score was a 60 last month, it now shows a lower or higher score based on the new algorithm. How is this truth? Your score was what your score said it was 30 days ago, not what Klout determines it is now based on new algorithm.
  • Random Fact: I was recently retweeted by Alyssa Milano (1.7 million followers!). Funny thing was my score dropped that week and from that point forward continue to drop. That particular day I got 950+ retweets within a couple of hours. Klout never had an explanation to the sudden drop.
  • Question: Would you let a score dictate who you talk to offline? In your neighborhood? At a wedding? At a block party? At a local networking group? At the gym? At your child’s school? At church? At the hospital? At the hair salon? At the neighborhood grille? Why should building relationships online be any different?
  • There are new people hopping on Twitter and Facebook every day. If you ignore these people because they have a low Klout score you could be missing out on your best customer or most genuine and fun friend of the year.
  • What is a +K really going to do for your bottom line in business and life?

Social measurement is in it’s infancy. We have a long way to go. I think the biggest mistake Klout and the entire social ecosystem made was believing that it was “standard.” I think there is a solid place as well as gap in proper social influence measurement. I am looking forward to seeing this arena evolve. I think we have only just begun, the best is obviously yet to come.

Influence will never be able to be put into a box or one single score.  Any social influence score  must be leveraged as “one” of the numbers in our bag of measurement tools and influence metrics. Klout is not and has never been the end all be all for measurement. The issue is that many let it be such.

What happens now is your decision and my decision.  We are human beings who run real businesses, have real friends and do things that have real life impact on other people’s lives that has nothing to with a social measurement score.

Just say no to influence puppetry!

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? How much weight have you put into Klout and the other scoring systems? How have you used Klout in a positive way? Have you seen people’s online actions be dictated by a score? Have you seen people behaving as puppets? Are you one of them? Do you have the guts to stop the puppet behavior? What metrics do you use? What other tools do you use to measure influence?

We will be covering these topics and more on the upcoming #GetRealChat on Tuesday nights at 9pm et.  If you would like to explore, discuss and share opinions on this topic I welcome you to join us. We keep things real, welcome opinion and learn from one another continually. 

Related Articles from Other Sources:

A More Accurate Transparent Klout Score - Klout

Is Klout Using Our Privacy to Violate our Privacy?  - Danny Brown

 Klout’s Scoring Changes Incite a Riot of Complaints - The Next Web

17 Alternatives to Klout - Read Write Web

Your Klout Score Probably Just Dropped, Do You Care? - Read Write Web

Is Klout on the Way Out?  - Jure Klepic

Video: The Measured Life. What’s Your Klout? - The Wall Street Journal

Forget the Klout, What’s Your Social Zoom Factor? – Pam Moore

 

PamMoore

Pam Moore

Owner/Partner, Marketing Nutz, LLC

Half marketing, half geek, social media addict, CEO & Founder of Marketing Nutz @MktgNutz, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, coach. Lover of strategy, ROI, Brand, God, Family, Friends, Beach & Life! 15+ years of experience helping small startups to Fortune 100 companies, budgets teeny tiny to big in both B2B and B2C markets build brand awareness, grow new markets, develop communities and master ROI across all mediums! Industries of expertise include high technology, non-profit & fundraising, green eco-friendly, enterprise data storage, professional services and storage management, real estate and home building, natural lighting, database analytics & modeling, online marketing, as well as web 2.0 ecommerce for online retailers. http://www.themarketingnutz.com

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Comments

Posted on October 31st 2011 at 7:45AM

Pam, Excellent article which is right along what Craig Newmark, the founder of Craig'slist. I have followed Craig for years, but I finally met him late last year during the FedTalks 2010 event in downtown DC    I managed to take 10 minutes of his time during the break to yap about my gig, http://awesomize.me and the business model for the company which was scheduled to be launched in about a month. One minute after my yapping, like a good doctor, he gave me the good news and the bad news.

The bad news was that my idea of creating a directory of influential people was not quite original. He told me that there were other sites like Klout that have been working on a similar concept, but that they were all doing it using analytical methods. Then he gave me the good news.

The good news was that none of these sites have emerged as a winner in this space, and in fact he had doubts if any of them could survive. He especially liked the fact I was trying to get the user engagement to rate other users as opposed to doing it analytically, as he felt that this model would work if we implement the right rating algorithm.

Kaloyan Banev
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 8:56AM

Completely agree, syntethic tests doesn't mean anything at all, starting with Alexa, huge part of SEOMoz Tools, Website Grader and of course Klout. This doesn't work in real world and doesn't prove anything. The only thing that matter is conversion and sales.

PamMoore
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 11:26PM

Amen Kayolyan! At the end of the day it is about conversions and sales. I would also add personal fulfillment from relationships. 

Posted on October 31st 2011 at 10:02AM

Excellent post, Pam.  Hopefully this will provide some discernment on the futility of chasing a K score. I have observed some concern over these new algorithms impacting job opportunities - in this jobless recovery, I would suggest to those who are concerned to start investing time where it counts.  When all of this shakes loose, don't be the one who was taken for a ride on the Klout bus to nowhere.

LeAnna Carey, @thehealthmaven

PamMoore
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 11:25PM

Leanna - thanks for your comment. I agree with you.  A bus to nowhere of any kind of bus is not a bus i want to get on! Plus I don't like buses to begin with! ha 

 

The impact on job opportunities is scary. I am shocked so many are truly using scores that are still in beta and an ecosystem still in infancy. There are many other metrics that can be used in addition and instead of Klout. 

 

Posted on October 31st 2011 at 10:04AM

I understand how Social Puppeteering is driving users to only engage with influencers is hand feeding social network sites, but what needs to stop is this complaining or credibility of klout. Isn't it a free service that is just used to see how people influence the social space? We have to stop taking it as such a credible source. To hear that people use Klout in the hiring process just baffles me.

PamMoore
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 11:23PM

Steven - I am with you on being shocked at how many are using Klout to make decisions, including hiring. The university professor scares me as well as we are teaching our youth to put heavy weight into a metric that is far from proven. 

Yes, it's a free service. However, being free didn't stop people from putting far too much weight into it. 

S. Imran Majid
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 10:19AM

Some really great points you've mentioned. I joined klout after the oct. 26th change so I noticed I was in the 30's I figured it was low because i am fairly new to social media as a brand building and marketing tool. I mean i had twitter since 2009 but i had my first tweet in 2011. But right now i am in the learning phase and your thoughts are helpful in providing prepective.

PamMoore
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 11:21PM

Glad the post was able to help you. Since you are new you can learn from many folks who wasted time paying too much attention to the numbers. I was not one of them and have always focused on connecting with real people and providing the best possible content I can to help others meet their objectives. 

Congrats on sending your first tweet! Focus on the art of engagement and the tools will come easy. 

PhilLauterjung
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 10:40AM

Pam, thanks for a great perspective on Klout in particular and social media in general. It has become way too common for people to try and figure out how to 'game' social media rather than how to use it to develop relationships. When I'm asked to explain what social media is I usually tell them it's simply classic networking (which most of them understand) done online, giving them the opportunity to greatly expand their reach. Of course those who do classic networking poorly will likely do the same online.

I spent some time - maybe too much - in the puppetry arena trying to figure out Klout. Especially when I found potential clients using it to evaluate myself and competitors. The interesting part of that process was I soon found out they weren't the type of client I wanted anyway.

Bravo for reminding us all of the real reason for social media...another way to develop quality relationships. Do that well and everything else will fall into place.

PamMoore
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 11:19PM

Phil - you hit the nail on the head with the fact that those who are poor at connecting, respecting people and networking offline often struggle online. At the end of the day it truly is about the people. The numbers should only be used to help us better understand how our efforts are working and helping us achieve objectives.  

Thanks for taking the time to comment. You are on the right track. Focus on and invest in real people and you can't go wrong! 

Posted on October 31st 2011 at 12:06PM

I work in social media marketing and have never found Klout very appealing. I never trusted the results and I didn't like the way it tried to influence my behavior. 

I looked at my klout score (high 50's at the time) and wondered what actual affect that had on my ability to network, drive sales and socialize.

None. 

My tactics and presense did not change for having known my klout score. I have never recieved or wanted a +K and prefer google analytics and hashtag tracking services. I could care less if I'm "influential" and more so if I'm interesting. How do I know if I'm intersting? I look at my daily interactions. 

After this article I'm strongly considering deleting my Klout account, but I wouldn't want to move too hastily. For now I'll continue to log in once a month and raise an eyebrow at the number which has yet to provide me with any ACTIONABLE analytics. 

PamMoore
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 11:16PM

Mike

 

I like your analogy of "interesting" vs influential.  I agree as if we are "interesting" then people will listen, ask questions, engage and possibly even share our content.  I always say the best way for me to know if I am influencing you or anybody is if I make you think.  Klout or no tool will ever be able to measure what we think. 

 

We must take metrics such as Klout for what it is. It is yet one metric that is yet to be proven.  I have many unanswered questions based on this last change as I believe many others do as well.  

 

I also agree with you regarding Google Analytics. It's one of the most powerful free (for now) tools and data sets available to determine how "interesting" you are at least to the folks that make it to your blog or website. 

 

Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment. Thanks as well for making me "think." 

Pam

Posted on October 31st 2011 at 12:28PM

Hi Pam,

Thank you for this great review :)

Indeed it make sense, Social media is all about buulding relatioanships and spreadig your word, not about a play of my ranking vs yours...

Our passion in Commun.it is relatioanship, but we take the internal ranking, don't show it, but let users act on it.. and not just influancer ranking, also engagemgnt ranking, support ranking and more :)

Thank you for sharing your insights :)

Sharel

 

PamMoore
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 11:12PM

Sharel - thanks for your comment. I agree, business and life is about relationships. I am a data junkie and data is in important in biz if we want to stay in biz. However, biz leaders need to be very careful what data they base decisions on including where they spend their time online and offline. 

 

 

Posted on October 31st 2011 at 5:13PM

Pam- I agree and politely disagree with some points. Yes we are not puppets. However, if you are indeed an influencer you can make people do things they might not originally have done by themselves. I often ask for advice or reccomendations of my facebook friends before making large purchases.

Now - gaming the system is what I have a problem with. Everyone knows you can't say your "cool" and actually be "cool" - just saying. @keithglantz

PamMoore
Posted on October 31st 2011 at 11:27PM

Elias - thanks for your comment. I will check out your site. You might also want to check out @Kred.  They are also a guest on our #GetRealChat Tuesday night at 9pm et. 

 

Best of luck to you and your new gig! 

Posted on November 1st 2011 at 10:46AM

Very good article. The question is, are we influential enough to ignore Klout?

PamMoore
Posted on November 11th 2011 at 12:29AM

Ha! Such a good question. After much research I think that is a key question. I have decided to delete my Klout account this weekend (once I can figure out how.) For some reason the option to delete the account has been deleted from my profile settings?

Posted on November 1st 2011 at 11:30AM

I agree with a lot of this article, I cannot believe that businesses and individuals take Klout so seriously that it effects who they talk to or even more worryingly, hire. I have used it as an indicator of influence but never took it as gospel, only today I read an article which told people how they can manipulate their score to increase it...

Posted on November 2nd 2011 at 2:07PM

Very well said Pam!  I don't really go by my "Klout" score either.. I am a community building and you like, RT, comment and converse with people that inspire you, that share valuable content that impacts your life, business in positive ways!  

 

I don't put much weight on anyones "Klout score", we are after all very young in our social media metrics and measurements and we really should be vested in providing value to our community(ies), increasing our reach by way of engagement and the analytics and ROI's will follow!

 

Thanks again Pam!

 

RMSorg - WallStreetBranding

PamMoore
Posted on November 11th 2011 at 12:22AM

Thanks RM! Agree, it's about inspiring and connecting with real people! There are many other much more valuable analytics and metrics to spend time on. 

Posted on November 2nd 2011 at 8:03PM

I find the whole "Klout" phenomenon amusing. I do enjoy logging in to see where mine is, and trying to figure out how and why it blips up or down. It's a silly game, engineered by people who are trying to engineer my activity. Do I really care? Not much at all.

I would suspect that many of the people who have been truly influential in your personal and professional life don't even know what Klout is. My list of "influencers" exists well outside Klout, Twitter and Facebook. See ... they have real "klout" - the ability to interact and influence in the real world. That takes social skills, the ability to hold a conversation, evaluate challenges and formulate solutions.

I'd rather have some small measure of real klout than any "Klout" at all.

PamMoore
Posted on November 11th 2011 at 12:27AM

I agree Anne that the majority of people who I influence in my life that matter haven't a clue what Klout is and never will. Those are the people who matter, the ones who I would standing up at my funeral stating I made a difference in their lives. It's not the folks following me on Twitter only hoping to get a retweet so they too can raise their Klout scores! 

 

johnserpa
Posted on November 10th 2011 at 10:36AM

Pam, can I say two word to you? You Rock!

Klout is a gimmick. I see folks touting their Klout scores on Twitter and Facebook like bling. Spare me the rhetoric but this is nothing more than grammar school antics—packaged in a cheesy algorithm. 

I have 28,530 Twitter, and 7200 Facebook (fan page and home page totals) and when I took two weeks off from Twitter during the proofing stage of my forthcoming book, my Klout score went from 60 to 28!

I'm with Pam, spend your time building your "real" tribe and reaching out to "real" people. Wasting time with anxiety over a silly Klout score is lunacy. Imagine this, "Excuse me, IBM media affairs Director, will you hire me for your next marketing summit keynote address? My Klout score is 75, higher than Daniel Pink's!" 

You get the point. I could care less if my Klout score is '0', even the name "Klout" rings of childhood popularity games.

You get both thumbs up Pam!

Sincerely,

John Serpa

Author or LiNK: The Fascinating Ways Our Minds Connect. In stores 12/18/11. www.johnserpa.com

 

 

 

PamMoore
Posted on November 11th 2011 at 12:26AM

John - thanks for the comment. I am actually working on my next post now to explain why I am deleting my account and all of our accounts from Klout immediately. I am very concerned with the privacy issues and what seems to be a clear conflict of interest. 

In reality WE are the product. Others can choose to do such but I won't do such for an algorithm that is yet to be explaines and where doubt has been placed as to credibility. 

For their sake I hope they are able to pull it together. They had a good a chance as anyone to make it a true success. However, when you market yourself as "empowring the individual" but your biz is fully driven by dollars versus doing what is ethical for your users (and product ;)) it's where problems start. There must be someone able to say no the the extra buck in trade for a chance at mitigating risk of tanking reputation. 

Good luck on your book. I'll check it out. Looks interesting.