Recent changes to Klout's algorithm, as well as revelations about some of its practices, have generated a powerful backlash against the company and its business model, as well as the tool itself. This post provides access to a set of pieces that provide a comprehensive look inside the issues, in addition to offering insights about the utility of all the furor.
If you follow social media, at least to some degree, you have probably heard of Klout and similar utilities (e.g., Kred, PROSkore, PeerIndex, Twitalyzer) that attempt to measure online influence. You may have also heard about the recent controversies over the change in Klout’s algorithm (and the perceived lack of transparency about what it measures), the automatic creation of profiles (even for minors), the difficulty of removing one’s Klout profile, and other questionable practices. The cyberchatter has been passionate, to say the least.
It’s tough to keep up with the flurry of blog posts and comments, so I thought it might be useful to collect and share a representative set of pieces for folks who want to understand what the fuss is all about but don’t know where to start or don’t have time to go digging for information themselves.
Listed below (in chronological order) are some of the posts that have been published by Social Media Today, where Klout is still a trending topic. Many of these posts provide links to other pieces, and almost all of them have generated some powerful (sometimes heated) discussions. Read as a whole, they provide a good sense of how the general conversation has evolved, as well as a variety of perspectives and insights on specific issues.
- Klout Responds to Questions and Critics (Oct. 29)
- Delete Your Klout Profile Now! (Nov. 9)
- Lies, Damned Lies and Klout Lies (Nov. 17)
- Why I Deleted My Klout Profile (Nov. 20)
- Klout CEO Joe Fernandez Responds to Critics (Nov. 21)
- Klout is not all about “Me Myself and I” [Opinion] (Nov. 25)
- Five Questions Klout Can't Answer (Nov. 29)
- Social Media Cries a River: Thank You, Klout (Nov. 30)
Please add a comment if you’d like to suggest
another good piece about the “Klout Kontroversies”
Although I’ve been aware of Klout for a long time, I haven’t followed the measurement tool or the company all that closely. In general I prefer to take a "wait and see" approach to new tools and platforms rather than be among the earliest adopters. I read and observe and evaluate before I engage. I was extremely dubious about and dismissive of Klout for a long time. After reading an interview with the founder and CEO, Joe Fernandez (I think it was in this Forbes article) last summer, my view softened, and I put a little effort into fleshing out my profile by adding some accounts. Since Klout still can't come close to accurately measuring my online influence for a variety of reasons (e.g., it doesn’t include TypePad blogs or most LinkedIn activity), I still can’t put much stock in it.
Because I haven’t followed Klout that closely, I feel as if I've come into the middle of the movie with respect to the recent controversies. At the same time, given my own experience and perspective, I can’t help but wonder why the reaction from some quarters has been so vitriolic. I know there are a number of folks who've been critical of Klout all along, and the latest stumbles have probably served as kind of an "AHA - Gotcha!" moment. I get that their sense of vindication has led to ever-more impassioned responses. It’s the people who seem to feel they’ve been duped or betrayed by Klout that I don’t get. I'm frankly surprised anyone – especially social media experts – has ever considered it to be a valid or reliable measure of influence. Klout’s weaknesses have always been pretty evident to me. It seems these people had drunk the Klout Kool-Aid – loudly and in public – and now they have to do some serious back pedaling. Rather than admitting they were wrong and reflecting on that, they are attempting to save face by blaming Klout for being misleading and engaging in unethical practices. Many of the most vociferous critics further strike me as disingenuous and hypocritical, and guilty of some of the same things they're accusing Klout of. And at least for me, in attempting to justify their own point of view they're undermining their own credibility and – well, influence. Ironic, isn't it?
We can attempt to kill Klout, but we won't slay the multi-headed beast in the foreseeable future. Until there's definitive proof to the contrary, Klout and its competitors (e.g., Kred, PROSkore, PeerIndex, Twitalyzer) will continue to try to measure – and monetize – people's influence in cyberspace. Certain individuals will continue to jump on the "next best thing" bandwagons and expend energy and social capital trying to prove they're right. And others will try to game the tools, just as they have with SEO. But – and perhaps most importantly – the vast majority of the world’s population will continue to go about their daily lives, oblivious to all the digital machinations.
Kind of makes you wonder if all this hullabaloo over Klout is “… a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Act V, Scene V).
As always, I welcome comments and questions.
- Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD