Why I Deleted My Klout Profile

PamMoore
Pam Moore Owner/Partner, Marketing Nutz, LLC

Posted on November 20th 2011

Why I Deleted My Klout Profile

I am a geek at heart, a lover of data, analytics, measurement, and ability to provide and measure real return on investment. When Klout launched I was one of their first fans. It was exciting to see something that could possibly help us finally begin to start measuring and justifying the hours we spent on the social networks.

Many had high hopes for Klout. We believed their agenda was pure and that their top goal was to build a credible and robust influence measurement system. We have several large clients in the travel and leisure niche that we were considering Klout as a potential source for connecting with influencers.

If you have been any part of the active social ecosystem the past few weeks it’s hard to miss the noise about the Klout algorithm changes and the backlash that followed.

After much research, conversation and analysis I have decided to delete my Klout profile.  Many people have asked me why via Twitter. It’s too much to answer via 140 characters so it was time for a blog post.

Important Note:  The purpose of this post is to provide the reasons I deleted my Klout profile.  It is NOT to bash Klout, pick fights or cause overall negativity.  I am confident in my decision and simply want to educate those who are asking me why.  You don’t have to agree with me, you don’t have to like my decision. I encourage you to share your opinions as well. 

I owe it to my followers, colleagues and clients. I have clients who have asked us to be accountable to meeting goals on increasing Klout scores. Given this, I have no choice but to share with them (and you) my honest opinion on how much I think their Klout scores matter in regard to their success at becoming and evolving as a social business.

I wish the employees of Klout the best. I hope they are able to help Klout mitigate the risks it has created for itself. There is still a large gap in the social ecosystem for social influence measurement.

Of course Klout could still do an about face and leverage their success to date to win back the hearts and tweet streams of those they’ve lost and/or will lose over the coming months.  However, my belief is they have a long way to go. Would I ever go back to Klout should they work out their issues?  They will have to earn my trust again, but yes, it could happen.

For more insight into my overall thoughts on social influence measurement including how I believe it’s causing some to behave like puppets I suggest you check out this post prior to reading and/or commenting on this article. It will give you more insight into my thoughts and opinions overall. This post is intended to only share specifically why I am deleting my Klout profile.  “Stop the Social Puppetry for Klout & Other Influence Metrics” 

1. Privacy Issues

Klout believes that “everyone has Klout.” Even if you don’t create a Klout profile they might just create one for you. They have implemented an “opt-in to opt-out” model. In order to opt-out of Klout you must first opt-in which means you have to connect a profile or else send them a note to delete. Neither option for deletion is obvious or easy to find on their website for a novice user who doesn’t eat, sleep and breath tweets and K+’s all day like we do.

They created Klout profiles for minors who never signed up for Klout. Yes, minors as in kids under the age of 18. There are numerous reports of children being exploited on Klout with profiles that were created from data scrapes via the Facebook API.  This happened for Facebook profiles that were set to private or public.  There are profiles of minors who were being listed as “influential” on the Klout website because they had liked or commented on a post of someone who actually had a Klout profile. My understanding is even minors with private accounts were being pulled into Klout because they commented on a public post.  Does Facebook need to take responsibility here as well? Absolutely. However, for this specific conversation and post we are talking specifically about Klout.

I am connected to many minors in our local community. I refuse to be the medium that exploits minors who have connected to me on Facebook in trust because I have a Klout profile.

Imagine the teen girls you know who snap a photo of the Saturday night slumber party. One of them uploads the photo to Facebook and assigns it as her profile photo. Then come Monday morning the same girl has a profile plastered on Klout with the photo of her and her two best friends in their jammies because Klout decided she is a top influencer of someone with a Klout profile!

Danny Brown summarizes some of the concerns on the Facebook scraping and Klout profiles of minors in this post: “Is Klout Using our Family to Violate our Privacy?

2. They tricked me into connecting networks that aren’t included in scoring algorithm

I learned today that although Klout states they integrate with 13 networks, the truth is only 4 actually impact your score (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare). Reading their latest post and comment stream on “Understanding the Klout Score Part 1”  I was shocked to discover that even though they announced these networks in two blog posts they forgot to mention that the scores are not  included. “Measuring Klout on 10 Networks”    “Google+ Now Has Klout”  I am yet to find anywhere on their blog or website where it states such.

The question was asked by someone on their blog this evening.   Klout replied with “you’re right, we haven’t done a good job of making it very clear which networks are simply connected and which are part of the score.”   However, earlier today in this post on NY Times “Are You a V.I.P.? Check Your Klout Score”  Klout’s CEO, Joe Fernandez is quoted stating “We analyze data from 13 different online networks and take into account reactions to a person’s content.

So which is it Klout? Are all 13 online networks analyzed and taken into account of new algorithm? Or is it as stated via your blog comments that it’s only Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN and Foursquare?

klout network sharing lies Why I Deleted My Klout Profile

3. They ignored the people who helped build them & wanted them to succeed

They launched a new algorithm late last month. They claimed transparency as a key feature of the new launch and algorithm. If you call transparency a single chart on their blog then you can believe the hype. Immediately after the launch they seem to have disappeared into a dark K+ tunnel.  They finally came out of hiding this week with a blog post trying to offer some answers.

This I think is their biggest mistake second only to the privacy issues. If there are issues with the algorithm then come forward. You hide and don’t respond, you lose trust. You lose my trust, you lose me.

Myself and many others sent numerous messages via the Klout contact forms, emails and tweets trying to get answers to some key questions. I wanted to help them. I wanted them to take responsibility for errors. Their answers were weak at best. They avoided 75% of my questions.  Their responses were a shame to what started out as a great company with great opportunity to provide value to an audience and ecosystem who needed them and wanted them to succeed.

I requested to have my profile deleted five days ago. I sent an email, replied to @MeganBerry on blog comments, sent tweets, submitted the delete profile form on the Klout website. As of this afternoon my Klout profile was still active.

4. Conflicting agendas 

There is nothing wrong with building a business to make money. I hope to retire with a nice fat payday at some point in the future from the sale of my own company. It is not bad Klout wants to make money. It is not bad Klout wants to IPO.

My concern is what appears to be conflicting agendas. On one hand they are repeatedly quoted stating “we empower the individual”. They claim to be the standard in influence measurement.  However, on the other hand they are are using that same measurement and collection of our data to make money from day one, while they are still in beta. It’s obvious they have issues with the algorithm. It’s obvious their system is still in beta.  However, that doesn’t stop them from promoting it as a standard for influence measurement. It doesn’t stop them from charging brands upwards of $25k just to be part of a perks program. I think their percieved credibility would be exponentially higher would they have first focused on getting the measurement correct.

Regardless if we like or believe it or not we are the product of Klout, not the client. Their clients are the ones who are writing the checks. They write the checks for the products which are you and me. Because you have your social networks connected to Klout, because you give K+’s like a puppet, you retweet and talk to influencers so you can raise your Klout score. No, you may not personally do it this way, but many are.

5. A Klout score is not the same as a Google Page Rank or a credit score.

I have seen people compare the Klout measurement to credit scores. This is an apples to oranges comparison. Credit scores are governed and consumers are protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The credit companies don’t publish a score publicly without your permission. The credit companies don’t create a score for you before they have accurate information such as your social security number, address etc.  The credit companies publish content explaining your rights, privacy policies that don’t change overnight because of a Twitter backlash. Yes, there is still some unknown black smoke with credit scoring algorithms but it is not the same as Klout.

As for the Google page rank, I have seen @MeganBerry from Klout respond on numerous posts stating Klout is similar to the Google page rank for websites. I disagree. We choose to have our websites public. We choose what images appear, what content is live.  With Klout we don’t choose to have a score. Unless you opt-in to opt out you may just have a score and don’t know it!

6. Unexplained inaccuracies and wackiness in algorithm

There are too many issues to list them all on this post. Below are a few of the many wacky data results that I witnessed with my own personal account and Klout was unable to explain.

a. I was retweeted by @Alyssa_Milano with 1.8 million followers. Within a couple hours of her sending the retweet I had over 950 retweets. You’d think this would possibly increase my score? Wrong, from this day forward my score continuously dropped.  When I asked Klout the reason they said I must not be getting engagement from as many influential followers as I did before.

b. Removal of 7 networks did not change my Klout score. As soon as I heard of the privacy issues after the algorithm change I removed 7 of the social networks I had connected. Surprisingly this had zero impact to my score.  Klout also admitted in their latest post that up to now they focused on your top network as the primary network influencing your score. Also as per number 2 above I now know that only 4 of the social networks actually impact our scores versus the 13 I was falsely led to believe.

c. They had not pulled my Facebook data in almost 60 days. According to Facebook they had not requested my data via the API since late August. Yet, when I had contacted them after the Alyssa Milano retweet noted above, they were confident that the score was accurate. How can a score be accurate when data is not pulled from a key network such as Facebook for 60 days? When they replied to my email on this question they didn’t answer the question. They instead answered stating I had the Facebook profile removed from Klout. Yes, by the time they replied I did because of the privacy issues. However, they never addressed the question as to why the data hadn’t been accessed in almost 60 days. I immediately sent a reply email asking for clarification and never received a response.

d. Immediately after the algorithm change the people I influenced changed to “un-influencers.” Almost all of them had Klout scores of 12 or less. I am mentioned and retweeted 100-200+ times per day by new and good friends I engage with regularly. I don’t believe that these spam accounts are the top folks who I influence.

e. There were 3 people listed as influencers who appeared to be spam accounts with almost identical stats.  Not only did they have the exact same number of followers, following but the most shocking was that they had only sent two tweets ever. What’s even worse is all three accounts had send the same two tweets. One of them just so happened to be a retweet of one of my tweets. It took numerous emails and questions to Klout to get an answer on this. When they finally did respond they stated I must have been affected by a temporary “glitch.” For approximately one day the people I influenced changed to real people with real Klout scores. However, within a day it was back to a list of spammers with scores in the teens.

 klout2 876x1024 Why I Deleted My Klout Profile

 

f.  My score continued to drop this week even after I removed all 8 social networks. I removed 7 of the social networks as soon as I found out about the privacy issues. This left Twitter as the only connected network.  However, even after I removed Twitter from Klout as well as revoked access to Klout via my Twitter profile my score continued to drop.  How can this be? Either they are publishing a declining score based upon no new data or they are pulling my data from somewhere without my approval. This has privacy issues written all over it.

7. It causes confusion for my clients.

Although if it wasn’t for the privacy issues, part of me would like to keep my Klout score active so I can stay up to date on how it changes, integration with other networks, etc. However, should I choose to do this it would cause confusion and questions for my clients. If my recommendation to them is that Klout is not a valid measurement for infleunce and that they should not waste time on it, it does not line up well with me keeping the Klout score active. They will obviously question why I tell them to do one thing yet I do the opposite.

In all honesty I have clients who have much better things to do than to spend a moment worrying about their Klout score. They are hiring our agency to help them become a social business. They expect results and they expect us to direct them on how to best spend their time to get there.  At this time I can’t ethically tell them that they should give a second look to their Klout score as a credible source of influence measurement.

8. Because I want to.

Bottom line I don’t have to have a reason to delete my Klout score. I don’t trust their motives, their actions and now based on most recent learnings today am having a hard time trusting their word.

I have better things to do than worry about my Klout score. My clients and I are building real businesses that generate real revenue. None of us are or will ever be defined by a score from any vendor.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts?

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

Great Blog Pam!

With brevity, influence is not measured by algorithms, it's measured in lives you touch. My Klout score was once higher than Martha Beck's, (laugh REAL hard now!). And when I deleted thousands of Twitter bots, it dropped 20 points.

The point is, it means nothing. Martha Beck has 100x more influence than I.

I'd be saddended to hear a client say, "We're hiring someone else because their Klout score is greater than yours." Or what is even more pathetic, people (adults) comparing their Klout scores for bragging rights.

And FourSquare? Okay, I'll stop my rant and just say you're an influencer in my world because you promote thought . . .

Cheers!

John 

 

Amen John! That's a great case study. You should write a post on the Martha Beck vs spam bots! ;) 

I agree that influence is measured in our ability to impact people, real people. 

Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It's folks like you who make the social ecosystem a better place!

 

Out of thirteen marketed keywords - my business website is listing on page-one for ten of them (six #1 listings).  This for an SEO company in a hyper-competitive market such as Providence.    
My example is typical of the results I bring to my clients.
Can I help your business market for discovery?

Way to go Pam - #Occupy your own clout!

 

What an excellent, considered and thoughtful post.

You have re-enforced a growing view that I have had that Klout has little value. This began when overnight Charlie Sheen garnered a 50 plus Klout score haven't never posted a Tweet. I originally thought that the concept of K+ might be a way for people to endorse those they believed truly skilled or knowledgeable in a subject matter specialism. How niave of me! It rapidly became a mutual back slapping tool, which remarkably seems to improve imfluence. Klout have also admitted that engaging with those who have high Klout scores improves your own Klout score, presenting yet another opportunity for vacuously gaming the system.

Thank you ffor taking the trouble to articluate your motivation for deleting, or attempting to delete, your Klout profile. You have provided valuable insight and highlighted some very real issues.

 

 

 

Well written article and not just a Klout bashing post that I've been coming across. you of course have the right to delete your account but I still question as to why. Klout measures your online influence through an algorithm. Google does the same thing when they page rank you. I have had blogs that I never submitted to Google or picked which pics should be public, but when I Googled them, I still found them. Hubspot has been giving Twitter grades for years. Where exactly is the problem?
By using Klout I can see if someone has influence or not. Something I say to them, they they say publicly will either travel far and wide or not much at all, and the Klout score clues me in on that. Accurate all the time, no. But it is a guide.
This is useless just in my conversations I have with people, but when using social media for marketing or business (and many are) this is valuable information. You shouldn't shun the low numbers but pursuing the more influential is good business.
So why exactly is it that you don't like these points in your article? The fact that they don't tell you how they come up with the number? Neither does Google. Neither does Facebook with their posts they actually show you in your feed. What is the problem with Klout holding that proprietary information? The privacy? If you put something on a social network and aren't considering it public, that's a mistake in my opinion.
I don't do social media things to improve my Klout score. If they happen to improve it, then so be it, but it's not my goal. I don't however have a problem with them giving my social media a grade like Hubspot does. Why is this so upsetting to people?

Well written article and not just a Klout bashing post that I've been coming across. you of course have the right to delete your account but I still question as to why. Klout measures your online influence through an algorithm. Google does the same thing when they page rank you. I have had blogs that I never submitted to Google or picked which pics should be public, but when I Googled them, I still found them. Hubspot has been giving Twitter grades for years. Where exactly is the problem?

By using Klout I can see if someone has influence or not. Something I say to them, they they say publicly will either travel far and wide or not much at all, and the Klout score clues me in on that. Accurate all the time, no. But it is a guide.

This is useless just in my conversations I have with people, but when using social media for marketing or business (and many are) this is valuable information. You shouldn't shun the low numbers but pursuing the more influential is good business.

So why exactly is it that you don't like these points in your article? The fact that they don't tell you how they come up with the number? Neither does Google. Neither does Facebook with their posts they actually show you in your feed. What is the problem with Klout holding that proprietary information? The privacy? If you put something on a social network and aren't considering it public, that's a mistake in my opinion.

I don't do social media things to improve my Klout score. If they happen to improve it, then so be it, but it's not my goal. I don't however have a problem with them giving my social media a grade like Hubspot does. Why is this so upsetting to people?

 

Anthony, thanks for your comment. I will try to answer your questions the best I can. 

Bottom line I think the reason I deleted my account was due to trust and the privacy issues. The privacy issues are a key issue for me given how many minors I am linked to on Facebook. The fact that they were scraping Facebook, pulling the private profiles of minors and creating a Klout profile for them is just unacceptable.

For me there were just too many issues combined. Bottom line klout does not equal ROI. 

I agree that there is value in influence metrics. However, I don't think we're there yet with Klout. Their agenda is questionable and they are far from a standard of influence. 

It's funny I keep hearing and seeing people compare Google to Klout. I think it's apples to oranges. Yes they both measure, both have algorithms. However, Google measures websites, Klout measures human beings. 

I think the issues with Klout are upsetting to people because there are many issues. They have lost our trust. When you lose trust, you lose people. 

 

Points well understood Pam. Everyone has a level of comfort and when that level is crossed, the person will react. I believe in the more education a person has about something, the less they are uncomfortable, unless they find more things that make them uncomfortable (which I belive is your situation).

The issues of minors is pretty much public information on Facebook. 13-18 are on Facebook and have public info. This is measured as public info. I don't see the line crossed here honestly. Those under 13 would be a line but they also aren't supposed to be on Facebook according to Facebook TOS. That is a Facebook issue and not a Klout issue.

Many websites Google ranks are pretty much just peoples personal blogs, sites social profiles, etc. They aren't all corporate entities. Klout also rates corporate entities and not just people. This does create a similarity between the two companies.

I think Klout provides a valuable service, but one that I take with a grain of salt. They are a tool and should be used as one. If there is not ROI for anyone then I understand not using it, and also the right to express your opinion. I just feel this Klout bashing that has been going on recently is a bit short sighted.

Anthony

Pam,

Thank you for this post and sharing your research, insight and thoughts about Klout. While I am a public person with multiple blogs, and the social media outlets that go with that and a public speaker, that doesn't mean that everyone I know wants to be a public person. Most especially those that are minors or the parents of the minors.

A number of the minors that I am friends with on Facebook are children that have been born without one or more limbs. It is a daily fight to keep them from being exploited on the web by seriously dearranged people. So adding to that in this unknown way would just not be right.

I opted out of my Klout account immediately after reading your article. 2 of my friends (also public people) did so as soon as they ready your article when I re-tweeted it and posted on FB.

Keep up the Good Work.

Pat

Pat - thanks for your comment. I am happy this article could be of service to you.

Your example is a good example of why social networks should not be creating public profiles for minors without consent.  It's sad what people will do to make themselves feel better by making fun of others.

Good for you for helping those children. It is good to be educated on these things which is much the reason I felt compelled to write the post.

I knew how much time it took me to understand. It worries me how many people don't have a clue. I know many parents who are not on Facebook, yet their children are. They do not have a clue of the associated risks.   

I am even surprised clients asked you to provide performance guarantee on a obsecure 'influence' measurement as 'Klout'. I believe you should have said 'no' right away. I am glad that you have taken this step but I have always taken Klout or any other 'online' public influence map service by grain of salt. Social Media is full of hype and hype only feeds the bubble.

What we drive out of Social Media means more to my business than who is doing it.Klout is possibly a measurement of 'activity' data but it doesn't equal to business. Just like followers, fans don't mean anything to my business if I am not engaging with them on a business level at some point. Otherwise, it's a wasted effort and just busy work.

On the corporate Social Media side, there are various enterprise tools that measure influence in a much more elaborated manner and have proven to be more accurate for identifying influencers and mapping our strategy through their footprint.

I am active on Klout but I don't consider them to be driver of any kind of digital strategy.

 

 

Yes, I have been surprised by clients asking such.  I have said no from the beginning as well. I always tell them that if we focus on the metrics that matter for the business that scores such as influence will organically increase anyway. 

 

If you read my blog you would see I agree with you on all points. Activity is just that, "activity" without engagement and an audience that cares what you have to say, listens, engages and takes action. 

 

Great post.  I was very interested in Klout and began tracking my scores, and had a similar experience to the author.  Wild fluxuatons, with 20 point drops in a month, and a feeling of randomness as my peers with comparative scores. I will probably let go of my account as well.  

Pam, Your blog post confirms what Craig Newmark (Founder of Craig'sList) told me last year when I was thinking of building my gig, awesomize.me.

One minute after my yapping about awesomize.me, like a good doctor, Craig 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.

Then he gave me a dose of reality (more bad news?). He warned me that the major challenge with awesomize.me would be getting users to register on another social media site.

His advice triggered me to use the experience I had gained with my first startup, telezoo.com, and move forward in implementing the awesomize.me model for the enterprise. This way companies would certainly get their clients to register and rate their companies,  products and services on the platform .

I look forward to get your feedback on our site http://awesomize.me

Pam: Terrific post, very well thought out and expressed.  I'm impressed at the broad and wide passion about deleting Klout profiles.  Perhaps we'll hear more about this in the weeks to come.

"The standard for influence" is the biggest problem I'm having with Klout.  The notion of someone trying to impose themselves and change social media behavior for their profit is as "anti-social media" as a company can be.

Thanks RohnJayMiller! 

Bingo! You hit the nail on the head and I agree. It's the "standard of influence" that gets many people. To me a standard for anything is not easily gamed and has solidified objectives that are known, not secret or always changing. 

I think the organization/company that will win this game in the end will be a well funded 3rd party who doesn't initially try to make a buck on profiles. They will earn the right to generate revenue after they establish credibility and earn the word "standard" versus self-brand themselves as such. 

 

 

Like maybe Google?  At least they'll jump into a business like video posting (You Tube) and not worry about that being a big cash cow.

Awesome Blog Pam,

As you said correctly that not all people should agree with your opinion. Although personally I completely agree on your view. Since past few months I was also surprised by the way Klout Score (K+) has been exaggerated by few online marketers and much more rookie clients in this domain who put lot of pressure to honest and sincere influencers. Since Inception; I was skeptic on the Klout Scoring methodology and it's credibility after reading your blog I am sure now.

According to me; in online world; not everything can be measured by numbers.

Regards

Hiren

 

Thanks for articulating some of the discomfort I've been feeling about Klout. Since I joined, I've been caught up in their ego gratification lure of increasing my Klout score. Until now, I've kept my personal and professional online lives separate...but Klout overcame my resistance. Their goal is to get as much of your online life linked and the reward is a higher score for you...but the real reward is more salable data for them! 

 

Bingo. Too bad it took us all this long to get it, he.  I fell for it too.  No more ;)

I never liked Klout personally. Sorry, but when someone has 50K followers and Follow 51K has no other profiles and no website and get's a high Klout score thats not cool, which is why I didn't trust it to begin with. I know social media and there is no way to accurately measure influence at least not precisely currently I'm working on a percentage figure to find out what percentage chance there is that people will actually SEE a tweet when it goes live because I need to then incorporate this into Facebook and YouTube figures to figure out someones total reach, which is terribly skewed right now. Anyway point is if Klout ever figures that out and actually takes into account websites, authentification, and all social network reach including impressions made then and maybe then I will actually applaud the service, but in the mean time it's a bunch of bull that concerns itself with too many trivial agendas. <---which has been me opinion since the beginning of Klout. 

I agree 100%. The priority of which they have integrated the networks shows where the objectives are. Truth is it is difficult to measure influence period. Their better approach would have been to delete the words "standard of influence" from day one and maybe they'd be okay.  However, it was all of us who were fools also to fall for the game. I never fell for the truth of the score but fell for the fun of the game. 

Great post Pam! Thanks for the thoughtful and researched analysis of Klout...I was not aware of the privacy issues until I read them here.

Thanks Michael. Yes, the privacy issues were quite shocking to many of us. 

I hope it's a wake-up call for the social ecosystem overall.  Yes, I believe 100% what we know as privacy is GONE, long gone. However, there must be limitations when it comes to curation, publication and sharing of information that is from minors etc. 

Will be interesting to see where this goes and the impact of Klout issues on the overall ecosystem. 

Great findings, I did not know about points #1, #2 & #5. People should understand that at the end Klout is a game, you do certain things and you increase your score. It's far from being an accurate influence tool, but it does have a clue on defining your level of activity on a certain social media platform.

In my local market, Dominican Republic, Klout is still quite unknown, but I managed to make an infographic comparing different local brands from different industries. At the end for me it was obvious that Klout measures activity / impact on your network, but not influence. If you like to, you can check it out here: -> http://bit.ly/sM86Ec in spanish.

Thanks Pam for sharing your experience, it provides quite good reasons not to rely on the Klout game and start thinking on real influencing activities.

Hi Carlos, I agree Pam wrote a great article. I also agree that Klout has a long way to go, but I do think that there will be some value to what they are doing, whether you like "Them" or not. I think they still have to get it right... but am I the only one who sees some value in a metric like this?

I wrote an article defending my thoughts here, would love your opinion.

http://www.nevillehobson.com/2011/11/16/in-defence-of-influence-metrics/

Thanks Pam, this was a good read.

~Tammy

I think one of the core differences in thinking is how much weight we put on the measurement of influence. 

In my book real ROI should come before measuring Klout.  

Bottom line ROI does not equal Klout. 

My 2 cents. 

You are welcome Carlos. I am intereted to see your infographic.  Do you happen to have it in an english version? 

Hi Pam, sorry, but we only did it in spanish, since my blog is quite new and its audience is hispanic. But the value of the infographic, the stats shown, was just a Klout comparison between brands in each industry: telcos, banks, supermarket, beverages, etc and a comparison of "audience" / total twitter followers; not surprisingly it had little variations between brands, ranging just  from 34% to 38%...so that's another proof that the algorythm is flawed.

I have been reading a lot of post and articles about the recent changes that Klout has made.

 

Thank you Pam for sharing your experience and what you have uncovered.  I have been ‘hit by Klout’ and my score dropped 20 points and even though I haven’t declined my engagement on social networks, in fact, have increased my activity… I have noticed my Klout score is decreasing.

 

I was a part of Klout from day one and remember when my score reached 12, I was excited.  It took just about a year when I reached 74 and then just a few weeks ago my score was dropped to 53.  Now my score is barely over 51. 

 

I didn’t know about the privacy issue and especially with the teenage accounts.  I have been pondering removing myself from Klout and your information is very helpful and suggests to me that I should look a bit harder into a site that may just hurt my reputation rather than build it.

 

And as you say, could confuse my clients.  I would rather put my time on developing real online business relationships instead of being based upon a system that seems to not know where they really are getting their information.

 

I appreciate you taking the time to communicate with your fans, followers and colleagues.  It shows true professionalism.  Thanks again Pam.

Thanks for the comment and happy you found the aritcle useful. 

I think the most important thing is that each person does their own research and makes their own decision. I live in this space, help clients be successful in this space. Clients were askng me question as was my community. I tried to do the best research I could and make a decision for myself and our company. I do not tell clients what to do but instead present them with the facts.  

I do the same thing with privacy. i always tell students and clients that their privacy is a personal decision. What I consider privacy is not the same as what you or my neighbor considers private. 

Good for you for taking time to make a decision. Pls let me know if there is anything addtl. I can help you with. 

 

Thx

Pam

As soon as I saw Klout I imagined it would be a target for gaming, spammers, SEO & the type of online self promotion Broadcasting folks that make up the majority of activity in Social Networks.

Later I saw the manual gaming; the waste of valuable time by social media consultants, bloggers & others as they tried to lift their 'klout' scores instead of focusing on real people & the real engagement they were doing. There was overlap for sure, but I shook my head.

I only just heard about the privacy issues and I intend to go in and delete my klout profile as soon as possible. It's blocked where I work you see, as both a Social Networking and a Web Application. I figure this is the case in 80% of global enterprises big enough to have a dedicated IT Security department/person.

Good on you for telling it like it is Pam. Thanks.

Hey Pam,

Just reading it again b/c it was such a good read. I find myself agreeing on a lot of the points, even though I am in the camp of "they will continue to evolve and I do see a use."

But one thing..

"As for the Google page rank, I have seen @MeganBerry from Klout respond on numerous posts stating Klout is similar to the Google page rank for websites. I disagree. We choose to have our websites public. We choose what images appear, what content is live.  With Klout we don’t choose to have a score. Unless you opt-in to opt out you may just have a score and don’t know it!"

Klout doesn't score private profiles. By choosing to have a public twitter account, etc, I think it's the same as Google Page Rank for a website. I fail to see the difference anyway...  Would love to chat more though.
~Tammy @tammykfennell 

A couple of important ways Klout is different from Google page views:

1. Google measures Web pages.  Klout measures human beings.

2. No one was ever denied a job because of a Google PageRank.  

3. Google is a search engine, and PageRank is a very, very peripheral part of its business.   Klout's entire business model is to grade what they claim is "social influence."

4. Google is 100X bigger than Klout.  They do 100X better at keeping gaming out of their equation.

5. Page Rank is 1-10.  Klout scores are 1-100.  Ergo, Klout claims 10X greater precision in its results than Page Rank.  

6. Google tries to help people find information, and they don't make money from Page Rank.    Klout tries to judge people for the benefit of advertisers and their only means of making money comes from the Klout score.

Amen! Well said RohnJayMiller!! 

I have to disagree with #2

I'd say that a fair few SEO experts were denied jobs if sites in their porfolios weren't a certain page rank.  And you can't tell me that people haven't been denied speaking gigs as "industry experts" if someone goes ahead and sees their "expert blog" is ranked a page 0 or alexa 7million.

I'll give you #6... although, It's google. You sure they don't make money from it? ;)

 

Thanks Rohn, Always fun to read your stuff. Loved your recent article too.

~Tammy

MarketMeSuite - 

So what do you think they will evolve to? Do you trust them now? Do you think their metrics are credible? Practices for storing data credible? I don't think anyone can know how they will evolve. They will have to change their ways, possibily their business model to evolve in a way that helps them continue to be successful.

We own an agency and just got finished an intense couple months reviewing numerous social media management tools for purchase. I can tell you the ones that only used Klout and had no good answer or plan to how they would evolve past Klout or other systems was marked off the list at first call.

As for the compariso to Google, I have to agree with what RohnJayMiller said. 

Google is measuring web pages, Klout is measuring human beings, scoring them with or without their permission and making money on them.  Google has earned our respect by years of delivering based on integrity and trust. Klout doesn't come close to this.  

Also, Klout has not only been measuring public profiles. Part of the issue is they rank even minors with private accounts.

I don't think I can answer the Google page rank comparison much better than what RohnJayMiller already did. 

 

Thanks for your comment. Interested in your thoughts on the above. 

Pam 

 

"Part of the issue is they even rank minors."

I think it's safe to say they admitted they made a mistake. I had a word with my contacts at Klout and you can be sure, it was not something they intended to do and they have since rolled back the changes that enabled that.

 

Back when Google started measuring page rank, and Alexa started ranking sites, I'm pretty sure people felt some level of violation then too. I mean, who the hell are they to take something that I built for me, or for my business and rank it against other, unrelated sites in unrelated niches...   But you know what? Now I do find them useful.

With social media evolving to clearly be the "next big thing" I guess I'm just not suprised a metric cropped up. So I guess I'm just taking the same line of thought ... this will eventually prove quite useful too.

I love what you and Josh are doing. I'm a big fan, Pam. Heck, I hope Josh tests V4 beta (he's on the list) and I hope we do a lot together. I have a lot of respect for the fact that you've come out and stated your opinion. But I'm not ready to dismiss something entirely for a few misteps. 

On a side note, I asked the Klout API department about why it didn't Poll facebook data in so long and they are looking into it for me. I hope to be able to publish a response soon.

Best,
Tammy 

Hi Pam, this is really a GREAT post and THANK you for the thoughtful findings which in most cases are unexpected for me!

I opened an account on Klout just a couple of months ago - so shortly before they change the new algorithm - and I must admit I did it more as a "game" than for a serious and professional reason. I decided not to take the score too seriously and not to become "score dependent", but certainly after reading such a great article, I am going to reconsider the reason why I am using it.

There are few things which I don't find "cool" and one of it is the fact that people without being K users have already their score: how comes with regards to the K users? I have my own blog and I know many other bloggers (much more famous than me!) who told me not even considering to use Klout for doing real business with real customers. Which fully confirms your final statement.

Cheers,

Luca

Hey Pam,

Great article -- I think you hit on a lot of under-discussed issues.

In case you're interested in reading another perspective, I recently blogged on why I think Klout is "meaninglessness masquerading as measurement."  You can read the post here: http://bit.ly/vDBm43

@justonpayne

Good post. Klout is a business, not a public service.

Not to mention that Klout have partnered with data companies whose clients can use your data for marketing purposes...

Good point Chris. The partnership and sharing of our data with organizations that focus specifically on such I have not spent much time on in regard to Klout. Unfortunately I am not looking forward to what we may learn on this in the future. 

Pam,

I agree with you! I have noticed that deleted accounts, well don't seem to die, they just live on in their own little Klout world. It is all a part of the Klout "game"! I recently wrote a post about the Klout game http://ribit.com/klout because there does not seem to be a true rhyme or reason to their "algorithm".

I tend to tweet and be re-tweeted (not as often as you), but my score does not go up. I do find if I have conversation - connect with people, my score goes down. Persoanlly, I find connecting with people is why I'm on Twitter. Silly me, I want to meet new people and connect with them and then even, perhaps get business from them (I know, I know, crazy thougts).

Thanks for the great post! 

Robin, I had found the same thing and it is one of the reasons I deleted my account as I wrote. The algorithm lacks foundation. I'll have to check out your blog post. 

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Pam,

This is the Magna Carta "document" of Klout critique and I have read a number of critiques. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your findings and honest hard hitting conclusions. I too have clients who are worried about their own influence online as well as finding consumers with high influence within their niche.

My experience with Klout mirrored yours with the hopes of a platform-score that could and would accurately defined the influence and involvement of people and brands utilizing social networks as marketing channels. Instead, I was presented with a plethora of challenges and inaccuracies that eroded my trust over a course of a 4 month test period.

Prior to creating my digital marketing agency,I spent 4 years working (beginning of credit scoring era 1997) as a sales rep and credit analyst for Trans Union. I agree and concur that Klout scores are  not remotely close to a credit score- credit scores are based on millions of credit records and score cards built by information experts.

Ultimately, I like you, would have loved for Klout to provide the influence scoring that is so desperately needed in the social space. But I like you, agree that Klout is not the answer.

Thank you for providing many of us the ground work for rejecting the status quo that is Klout.

 

 

 

Thanks for the comment and glad you liked it.  I worked at GE right out of college and also partnered with many organizations in the financial arena. I was certified under FCRA and laugh when I see people compare Klout to credit profiles. They haven't even touched the tip of the ice berg as to the work and depth of the algorithms of credit scoring. 

Glad the article helped you. Best of luck to you and your new agency!! 

Pam,

Thanks for the very informative article.  I agree in the sense that there are many things on which Klout made mistakes (some of which go on). However, in the large scheme of things, social media is relatively new.  It wasn't until the last five years that it and the technology surrounding it have become full blown.  So, while I'm not thrilled with the significant changes in scores (up or down), as it speaks to the validity of data at the get-go, I was under the impression that businesses have to make mistakes to build into the entities that they are. Facebook, for example has had its critics and countless issues, yet people flock to it.   As with many things, it comes down to preparation and making errors, in order to rebuild.  I'm not sure of Klout's intentions after the current hype surrounding its integrity, but there is slight possibility that they'll step up to the plate. no?   This is not to defend or justify them, but merely as further speculation of the lingering question "what happened?"  

I think it boils down to accountability and how it links to efficiency (or perhaps lack therefore), any other agenda aside. While I don't necessarily agree with you, I do think that many relevant points were communicated very succinctly, and appreciate your candidness in doing that.   My concern then is mainly about the exploitation of minors' facebook data.  And, the fact that bots get high scores don't bode accuracy either.  That said, along the lines of what those above have stated, Klout is just a score based on metrics that are man-made, or at least its weight.  And, who could judge a person's abilities and efforts but the person who is doing the work?  And, without a doubt, most have in this technology obsessed culture, with or without "Klout."  

You raise a question I think we all have. It's tough because many of us wanted, and still want to see companies like Klout succeed.

There is no reason they could not have been uber successful and really pulled this off in a big way. However, there were other factors that got in the way. Only those that work inside the walls of Klout know the truth, the rest of us can only speculate the causes. Was it they investors didn't invest enough so that they have the proper staff to manage both the algorithm and customer service? Did they lack integrity? Did they care about the algorithm or the agenda of advertisors more?

When issues such as privacy arise and they are slow to respond their even once loyal followers tend to start making their own assumptions. Shame on Klout for not coming out of the closet sooner and being transparent as they claimed to be. I think they truly could have saved themselves some headache and a few loyal supporters at the same time! 

Great article. I had heard a lot about this and your comments brought back to top-of-mind. Especially explaining how the minors connection is a factor which I did not fully understand before.

Thanks. Yes, it was the issue with privacy and minor that got me too and inspired me to write the article and delete my profile. That combined with the fake bot accounts I influenced according to them was the icing on the cake. 

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