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I'm just a girl in the world.. that kind of likes to write. Mom of 2 teen girls & work as Talent Attraction & Marketing professional. Oh, & I'm addicted to my phone, Social Media, HR/Talent Marketing & Caffeine... you can learn more about me at www.linkedin.com/in/theonecrystal

@Klout – You Don’t Know A Thing (About Me)

I rarely think it’s worth taking on a #socialmedia business – or any business, really – from a negative perspective.  Pump those that are making positive change/influence and ignore those that aren’t.. they tend to sort themselves out in the wash, anyway.  But today, when I saw the mess Klout’s made of the implementation of their ‘new & improved scoring system?’ (1)  I’d had enough.   Klout, listen up:  You’ve effectively proven, in my opinion, that you don’t know a thing about me… or “accuracy” when it comes to measuring social media influence.

This is a major change in my stance on Klout; indeed, I’ve been a pretty staunch supporter for months.  I really like the idea of social influence measurement.  While my Mother & Grandmother could care less about their ‘social score’ as it holds no relevance to their day-to-day; it’s something that, if done correctly, has a real place alongside those of us that use social regularly for business & part of our professional identities.  Social Media, and the real relationships formed in & out of it, is not an intangible.  There are metrics that surround social media activity & so yes, we can identify real ‘Influencers’ – and what they’re influential about.

Yes, I had high hopes coming into the summer that Klout would be the steady, stable ‘voice of reason’ in this field.  There’s  certainly no lack of competition in the area:  there’s at least 10 other services in the area… not to mention the “Influence Games” such as Empire Avenue.  But Klout measured 12 different networks and allowed for more user-to-user interaction on their own platform than others; something I appreciated.

So, I’ve silently watched as Klout has struggled to come up with a realistic balance as it relates to defining “accuracy” in scoring influence.  I’ve muddled through the multiple “score drops” – which were not minor, not insignificant – as Klout “tweaked” its system.  My score, along with many others, reacted to that tweak much the same as you’d expect to see after a bad hit:  spastically.  Unfortunately, this latest “tweak” feels like much more than a ‘tweaking out’ – it’s more like a bad overdose that’s left scads of scores in the Critical Care Unit, getting their stomachs pumped &/or hooking up life support.

I had read the blog post that Klout’s CEO, Joe Fernandez, shot out last week; explaining the ‘method behind the impending madness.’  He tried to help us feel like we were “all in this together” by letting us know that the good people at Klout would have their scores a’dipping, too.  He tried to soften the blow by saying “most people’s scores would stay about the same.” While I’ve seen a couple scores stay steady, that’s true; actually, with the over 100 people I’ve checked so far… most have gone into a free-fall. Somehow a couple steady scores doesn’t help me much with the warm-fuzzies.

Beyond that, my beef isn’t that some arbitrary score dropped – it’s that after THREE YEARS, they still are making big, ballpark changes.  This is more than “helping people understand why their score changes.”  If that’s really all that was going on; then our scores wouldn’t change… how we read them, the GUI would.  That’s not what happened.  For so many to see such massive changes; it shows Klout was (once again) off-base in their measurement of what accuracy really is.

Not that that is really a surprise; for weeks upon weeks we’ve seen pieces of the puzzle they’ve been missing. Like when fellow members of the #SMCDallas group were laughing last month at how they were influential in BEEF JERKY & Beer… but not Social Media (which they tweet about daily).  Or, for example,how my “influence” level doesn’t really change in the space of a few days – like when I’m on vacation or at a conference – people who you interact with regularly aren’t quite that fickle.  So when I had a nearly 5 point drop after #mRec, #HRevolution, and #HRTechConf?  My eyebrows went up & I took notice – and laughed at the glitch.  Because that what that is; they’ve not figured out how to factor reasonable time in yet.  When today they told me I no longer influence my:  Aunt, Sister, Brother, Neighbor (2), #TChat founder Meghan Biro that I speak w/ practically daily, I stopped laughing.  Not because I took them seriously; but because I no longer could.

I get that there’s no way for Klout to know that several of those people are closely related to me; but that’s the danger in telling me that specific people are no longer in my ‘sphere of influence.’  That just tells  me you don’t get what influence really is.  I can influence someone who’s new to twitter just as much as I can someone who’s got a billion followers.  And you may think my “reach” decreased by 275 in the last 30-days; but the reality is that I’ve gained nearly 390 followers – over 200 of which have 20 times the followers that I do & have been RT’ing me regularly… so… forgive me if I doubt your company’s accuracy on that point, Mr. Hernandez.

I read on Mashable (3) that Klout pulled a Netflix with this latest move.  Well said, I think. I didn’t bother to find out if his, or his team’s, Klout score reflected a decrease in influence on Social Media Platforms… but I can tell you for #fact that their ability to influence me just plummeted – Klout’s influence is D.O.A. at this point… at least as far as I’m concerned.

(1) laughable

(2) whom I chat with frequently and influence A LOT 🙂

(3) where I found the cool cartoon video about Klout

8 Comments on “@Klout – You Don’t Know A Thing (About Me)”

  1. Kate Hutchinson (@kehutchinson) 10/27/2011 at 11:48 am #

    Love, love, love the Klout video from Xtra Normal.

    I like this post for so many reasons, and I wish more people had a good head on their shoulders about this issue like you do. From a business standpoint, you’re absolutely right–three years in they shouldn’t be making major algorithm changes, they should be refining the product. They’ve sold customers and sponsors on the product–making a major change like this to the product itself is essentially saying “we didn’t know what we were doing.”

    Now if only HootSuite would drop the integration of Klout scores into profile viewing, I’d be all set.

    • TheOneCrystal 10/27/2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Thanks, exactly – I was talking with someone last night who thought we should give Klout a break because they’re trying and ‘in it for accuracy’s sake.’ UM, No. No, they’re a BUSINESS and they’re in it to make money. Which is cool; there’s nothing wrong with that… as long as you deliver. But, to me, it seems like they rushed into the space before they were ready; because it’s not like they discovered a new algorithm or something… you know?

      Anyway, with you on the HootSuite “Deintegration” of Klout scores! 😉 Thanks again for reading!

  2. Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan) 10/27/2011 at 11:53 am #

    I’m with you Crystal! Well said (written)…to me, YOU have the influence that matters! Brains!

    • TheOneCrystal 10/27/2011 at 12:32 pm #

      Thanks, Bruce; I very much appreciate it! 😉

  3. Rob Garcia (@robgarciasj) 10/29/2011 at 5:05 am #

    The funny thing (and by funny I mean sad for the Klout guys) is that the character of a company (and the trust of their followers) is based on the honesty and transparency of its leaders. When Joe told us “most people’s scores would stay about the same.” when that turned out to be untrue, most people wonder… can these guys be trusted? AND THAT is a problem for any score company…

  4. Chris Jones 07/08/2012 at 10:21 am #

    i realize this thread and the topic of Klout algorithms is old news to a degree, but I think there’s still a gaping hole in how we attempt to think about social influence. Maybe we need a different approach? Outside the box? Why don’t we change the game and open source the influence rules, let the community weigh in on how it should work, and put Klout on stronger footing?

    In my space, we’d call it “defining the requirements” ..

    I’d agree with Kate above that maybe they haven’t known what they were doing all this time, but I’d argue that most of the rest of us haven’t had it all figured out either. We’re early in the evolution of social platforms. Much is still being sorted out. Look at G+.

    Perhaps we’re disappointed w/ Klout because they took the torch and faltered.

    There’s a subjective element in some of this, which Klout will never be able to measure. At least not with available data. And there aren’t enough objective inputs yet. Tagging and relevance are not mainstream enough ..

    It’s interesting Crystal to compare this 2011 thread with your recent posts on the psychology of influence. Do your new posts put these older ones in a different light?

    Thanks for providing a frame for an important conversation – then, and now.
    My two cents on a Sunday morning.

    Chris

  5. Chris Jones (@sourcePOV) 07/08/2012 at 10:24 am #

    i realize this thread and the topic of Klout algorithms is old news to a degree, but I think there\’s still a gaping hole in how we attempt to think about social influence. Maybe we need a different approach? Outside the box? Why don\’t we change the game and open source the influence rules, let the community weigh in on how it should work, and put Klout on stronger footing?

    In my space, we\’d call it \”defining the requirements\” ..

    I\’d agree with Kate above that maybe they haven\’t known what they were doing all this time, but I\’d argue that most of the rest of us haven\’t had it all figured out either. We\’re early in the evolution of social platforms. Much is still being sorted out. Look at G+.

    Perhaps we\’re disappointed w/ Klout because they took the torch and faltered.

    There\’s a subjective element in some of this, which Klout will never be able to measure. At least not with available data. And there aren\’t enough objective inputs yet. Tagging and relevance are not mainstream enough ..

    It\’s interesting Crystal to compare this 2011 thread with your recent posts on the psychology of influence. Do your new posts put these older ones in a different light?

    Thanks for providing a frame for an important conversation – then, and now.
    My two cents on a Sunday morning.

    Chris

    • TheOneCrystal 07/09/2012 at 2:47 am #

      Chris,

      Love the idea of open source influence scoring; and yes, I think it’d be helpful.. though, one would hope Klout has a strong focus group outside of their own employees when figuring out what to track.

      Their issue, in my opinion, lies in math & program – how they’re weighting their algorithms are off. They still have a serious issue with time relative to the overall score; though it’s not quite as heavy-handed as it was last October; it’s still too weighty.. at least in my opinion.

      But I get why it’s that way; their whole scoring is based off INTERACTIONS – the number of times you get likes, comments, shares, RTs, and MTs on various social platforms. If you’re not active on those platforms, those things aren’t happening -or to a much lesser degree than when you are. Thus, there’s a dramatic decrease in what’s available TO score. But their current set-up isn’t factoring reasonable time for LIFE: things like vacations, sick days, mental health breaks OFF from social media (which we all need, ha!), etc. Someone can be gone for a week – or sometimes several and still maintain their level of influence.

      To the point of your question regarding does my current articles change my view -no, I think it really only further cements it (at least, that’s my line of thinking at 3:39 AM CT). For someone to have appointed you to the “ingroup” of ‘Influencers’ they have to have first accepted your knowledge base and have likely perused enough of your stuff to decide some level of credibility. Disappearing for a few days or not having the core competency listed on a 3rd-party platform (e.g. not the one they chose to ‘follow’ you from) is unlikely to shake the aforementioned faith they have in you.

      Far more damaging, in my opinion, is when they get to the point of checking out who YOU interact with – which, interestingly enough, often doesn’t happen at the same time they chose to follow you/accept your opinions as valid in the first place. As they burrow more deeply into what makes up your ‘influencee’ group (poor grammar, but I’ll blame the hour & hopefully you get my point); if they see that there’s clearly a “follow-back” pattern of unrelated people or a good percentage of your ‘fan base’ isn’t made up of people similar to them? The conformity issue kicks in the negative drive and they’re more likely to shy away. I’ve not yet put much thought into how this could be tracked by Klout outside of searching for the interrelation of keywords within each person’s network; not sure how realistic that really is?

      Anyway, really appreciate your comments both here and on the Influence piece on Blogging4Jobs. That’s a 6-part series (I think; toying with a 7th installment); so, would love to get your opinions on subsequent posts as they’re published! Thanks for challenging thought this morning.

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