Klout Doth Think You Protest Too Much

Ok, so I don’t really speak for Klout. Historically, in fact, I tend to stay away from these kinds of posts all together. I leave them to the much more technologically educated forces than myself. But, I poked fun yesterday and it got me thinking a bit.

In a tweet conversation yesterday, Travis Robertson mentioned that Klout had listed “parenting” as one of his influential topics – except, while I am certain he and his wife will make beautiful babies, they haven’t done that yet. We jested awhile as you can see.

Poking fun was easy because Klout has taken a bit of a smacking lately. It has been proven quite a few times that the system can be gamed. Jeff Turner did an amazing job illustrating this point. But Jeff is smarter than the average bear, so I think the joust was a teeny bit unfair.

I thought about that for a while because I have found my Klout score to be quite useful – and that was BEFORE I received nearly $50 worth of free Clinical Strength Secret Deodorant (slick disclosure).

When it comes to chatting with my friends, I could care less about Klout (which is probably how I ended up influential in “vodka”). But when it comes to actual effectiveness in communication, Klout can be an excellent mirror.

Klout scores provide more than just a number. My two favorite metrics are topics and style. The topic pages will be out soon. There are currently 16 different Klout styles. These two pieces of information attempt to gauge how you act and what you act upon.

My first encounter with Klout was embarrassing – it showed that all the “work” I was doing on Twitter was really just water cooler conversation. The score was low, sure. But more importantly, my list of influential topics contained NONE of the ways I actually made money. The closest thing was ReTech South. And while I was thrilled to be influential in that, speaking engagements – which I am totally available for – are not really my full-time gig (yeah shameless plug).

So, I set out to adjust my Twitter interaction. And Jeff is totally right – Klout is a game. That scorekeeper provided some pretty good information and I was more mindful (mostly) about my Twitter content.

I checked Klout again. Sure my score went up. But more importantly, my topics changed. That’s a plus. However, my style was that of a “Broadcaster.” While that is perfect for some folks mission – it is not so much for mine. So, I went back to my social media goals and strategy and tweaked the process.

So, did Jeff and I both “game the system?” Sure we did. But the purposes were different. He gamed it to show it could be manipulated. This is an important point. Just like SEO, Facebook fan/friend numbers, Twitter followers, search engine ranking etc. can be gamed and taken in context when used as a tool for judging credibility, so too should Klout. It is not THE thing or the ONLY thing – but it is A thing.

I gamed it to provide accountability to my social media strategy. I used its metric system to keep a numerical pulse of my activity in a way that I just can’t.

It is obvious Twitter is still a social place for me. I am influential about things like bacon (thanks Mike!), juice and couponing. But real estate is on the list now and my style is more of a contributor.

The summary thought is the whole “baby/bath water” idea. Do I think Klout can use some improvement? Sure. But what they have is a pretty good start. And I am not fixing to put my score in my advertisements or on my website. But I continue to monitor it in the same way I monitor my website stats.

The best evidence is the results of Travis’ parenting Q&A yesterday. Seriously, Klout was dern near prophetic on this one.  

Comments

  1. LOL! Thank you, April, for your kind words about the attractiveness of our future children. 🙂

    You actually raise some very good points, as does Jeff. It is very easy to poke fun at what Klout is trying to do while they perfect their system. I actually applaud what they’re attempting to pull off. But it’s not without it’s major problems.

    Using it as a mirror to get better at the tool of social networking is the right way to use it and I actually do that as part of my own analysis of my efforts. It helps me figure out what’s working and what’s not. It shows me if my content is truly resonating with people or if I need to make adjustments.

    Unfortunately, it can be gamed and it can be largely inaccurate – sometimes to the point of comedy. As you pointed out, so can just about everything else online. We just have to keep the perspective of maturity and realize that it’s going to take time to work out the kinks. I was on Twitter 2 months after it came out when most people thought it was stupid and just a fad. And here we are today and the system is still evolving and companies like Klout are building applications to rank and rate our performance.

    Really great post! If you ever need parenting advice, you know who to turn to. 🙂

  2. You are still BETTER than Bacon!

    Seriously though – Klout is a game for us people. It’s real purpose is to provide qualitative and quantitative data for large PR firms looking to reach out to the best users for their particular product or promotion. For that purpose, there’s no company out there comparable (no matter how off Klout suggestions might be)

    Another thought… using the Bacon, it isn’t necessarily YOU that has the influence in bacon but your followers and the people that listen to them. That’s a big part of the Klout algorithm.

    All this +k stuff is just a front to keep us vanity types amused.

  3. I agree with you. I also tried to game Klout and guess what! I started off with a score of 10 and in less than 30 days I got to 28. Yesterday when I checked, my score was 36. To top it all, I do NOT have 100’s of followers. Despite this, I managed to get on top. Pretty interesting game! 🙂

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