Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Can't Deny That Klout Like's Me Right Now

Emergency "Twitter was down so I wrote my...Image via Wikipedia
I've been following a lot of different threads in the social networking space. One of those is social network influence ranking sites such as Peer Index and Klout. I've generally been less than enthusiastic about them and to be honest that hasn't changed. I still don't think that a composite score can be valid when comparing two or more people. Those scores are all fruit, but no two people represent the same fruit for reasons I've discussed before.

Having said that, I do think they are useful as a measure of personal progress if you're trying to increase your social networking presence. Since this is something I've been working on for the past few months I'm finding Klout increasingly useful. It updates in a reasonably timely manner which puts them well ahead of PeerIndex, at least in my experience. Most of my PeerIndex profile never updates and a week after opening a trouble ticket with them I still haven't gotten any response. This is not good.

My current Klout score is 25 out of a possible 100. Klout has something called "Klout Styles". I wasn't very happy/impressed with how I was classified a month or so back when I last wrote on this topic. At that point Klout had me pegged as an "Observer". The description of this style implied that I spent most of my time watching and very little participating.  As an active participant in online forums for more years than I'm willing to admit that didn't make a lot of sense to me though the likely root cause was the limited view Klout took of social media. For instance, this BLOG wasn't and isn't included in their tracking. They focus very heavily on Twitter and Facebook with LinkedIn and foursquare being a more recent additions.

I'm now classified as an "Explorer" which is a lot better for my ego and closer to the truth as well. The description text for "Explorer" is as follows:

You actively engage in the social web, constantly trying out new ways to interact and network. You're exploring the ecosystem and making it work for you. Your level of activity and engagement shows that you "get it", we predict you'll be moving up.

I have been working hard recently to up my profile in a positive way on the outlets that Klout cares about the most so some of my improvement may be due to my own proactive actions. They've also made at least a  couple of tweaks to their algorithms over the past month or so based on the recalculations I've seen in my score history.

One of the things I continue to wonder about is how Klout plans on monetizing their service. One possibility would be to make component scores for the individual social networks they track available on a subscription basis. That information would be potentially interesting to companies that want to get a better grasp on how to utilize their limited resources in reaching out to customers. It may sound cynical/wrong, but knowing who has the most influence is an important consideration when making these decisions.

What we're really seeing emerge here is an influence economy. That frightens me a little, but it doesn't have to be all bad and in reality we've always had one. The only real difference is that in the future it will be clearer who has the influence and if you want to look closely how they got it.
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  1. The title of this post is an allusion to a somewhat obscure pop culture reference. :-)

  2. You nailed what's so interesting about Klout (and could probably be said about Empire Avenue as well). Whether you agree with the score or not, it makes you better at Social Media. I think it's just human nature to be competitive. No one wants to be a 10 when they can be a 100. No one wants to be an observer when they can be a participant. I both joined EA and started checking my Klout score about a week ago. There's no coincidence that my score's been rising ever since.

    You'll have to check out my blog next Thursday (shameless plug to learn more about how Klout will find ways to monetize their site!

  3. Agreed.

    An interesting corollary to all this is that site like Klout potentially have a lot of power in the social space if they gain in popularity. They essentially gamify social site interactions and encourage people who want to "win" to focus in on the sites that will have the most impact on their score.

    This suggests another potential way to make money if you're Klout. charge social networking sites to be part of the scoring.

    I'll certainly check out your next post.