Klout: My 2 Cents

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So the (somewhat) controversial Klout has once again changed its algorithm last week and in doing so, adjusted the Klout scores of its users.

Many users’ Klout scores went up, which made them happy. Justin Bieber’s went from 100 to 92, which is cause enough for worldwide trending. Klout’s update led me to share some of my ideas, and here goes…

The idea of Klout is a noble one – a measurement of one’s social media influence. But it is troubled to say the least. First off, Klout isn’t out to just make the world a better place, it’s a business and it’s business is to identify users interested to help promote brands and products. Klout calls them “Perks”. When users sign up for Perks, they may get some samples, trials, freebies, swag, etc… The idea is that the user now takes to their social platforms to broadcast their experience and experience with the product or brand. So what’s wrong with that? Nothing.

But Klout’s measurement, is for its own purpose, not yours. If you have a high Klout score, all this means is that you are potentially more useful to Klout than someone else. Congratulations.

Klout’s (secret) algorithm for determining your social influence (a whole other story) is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how it does it, when you know why it does it. The other fatal, major issue I have with it is that users can give Klout points to other users based on their completely subjective assessment of perceived expertise on a given topic. So I can award you “+K” for your expertise on “relationships” for example. And your score goes up. Again, all this serves only Klout and it’s perceived value for users to reinforce the system with virtual back pats. It’s kind of like foursquare points – they only have meaning inside the platform and mean that you use foursquare a lot (but I am a strong foursquare proponent).

So all in all, Klout isn’t “bad. It seems, at a glance, to fulfill a need; the need to quantify social influence and relevance. In reality, it does fill a need. But that need is focused on Klout’s business model, and not you or your influence.

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