Losing Klout: What Klout could be doing to earn my money – but isn’t

To start, a full, honest disclosure. I am a sucker for ego affirming gratification. Likes and RT’s and +1′s – and yes, Klout scores (mine is a 57 today, if you are comparing) – were designed to feed the neurotic needs of people like me: lowly creative types who pine for acceptance and acknowledgment. We love ourselves just enough that we want to prove that the rest of the world loves us too. We hate ourselves enough that we let silly numbers define our self worth.

I’ve watched my Klout score drop a point every day this week, and the big difference between this week and last is that I wasn’t as active this week. While I have no definitive proof, I am guessing Klout has deemed me less influential this week because I have been less active. Simple, and seemingly logical.

But is it? Should inactivity alone make you any less influential? Here are my thoughts – and what I think Klout should do to attract paying customers.

I would argue that in some cases, inactivity makes you even MORE influential. There are people that say very little, but when they do speak, what they say is profound and worth your undivided attention. In the world of Klout, do their scores fall a point or so every day because they aren’t spewing crap all over the internet?

How much does God’s Klout score fluctuate daily?

I would say that God has some Klout, for example. Believer or no, few would probably disagree – you need only look at the number of followers God has (2.8 billion Christians alone worldwide) to be of the mind that God carries a bit of influence with the world populace.

But does the fact that God doesn’t post new messages to you every twenty minutes, or that you may not engage with every thing that God creates every day, give him any less Klout? If he shows up in your bedroom unannounced, are you any less likely to listen?

Okay, so that’s a silly example – Klout is definitely focused exclusive on measuring the influence people have on the interwebs, and I don’t think any Facebook or Twitter handles purporting to be God are likely actually THE God, though I leave room to be wrong here just in case.

Let’s substitute Oprah for God

What if Oprah didn’t make a single book recommendation for a handful of years, and then started doing it again? Would she be any less influential? Oh wait, I think that actually happened, and if I recall, she was still able to propel books instantly to the New York Times bestseller list. That’s still a flawed example – it’s not like Oprah disappeared into a hole during the years her book club was inactive. She still published a magazine and ran a TV network among other things. But what if she didn’t? Many experts have retired from their fields, or taken extended leaves of absence, only to return to be at the top of their game. Nobody ever stopped listening to them – they just didn’t have anything to listen to.

I don’t know how Klout reaches their scores. I find it suspicious that my score has come within 3 or 4 points of people far more known and widely celebrated than I am. I find it concerning that my perceived influence seems to dwindle just because I take a couple days off at the office or have a localized flare up of something itchy and the heat radiating from the laptop is agitating it. (Okay, that didn’t happen, but it could, you know).

Don’t take this as an assault on Klout. I actually think they are filling an interesting niche – but wonder what their plans are to get back to what they state their mission is:  “. . . to show anyone how he or she can influence the world and its future,” and “to empower everyone to unlock their influence.”

Social media needs more tools that advise you 

Does Klout do that? I’d argue not. It’s quite effective at notifying me when my score drops or rises, who they believe I am influencing and who is influencing me. But unless I am missing a key feature, it doesn’t show me how to increase my influence – it would be great if Klout gave me tips on who to follow, who to engage with more often to increase my influence on topics, etc. This is the layer of social media that has been missing for me – the tools that advise you. We have hundreds of tools that make it easier to schedule posts, organize feeds, make rudimentary decisions on who you should follow or unfollow based on their levels of activity or number of followers.

But these aren’t thoughtful tools. And I guess that’s what I wish for Klout – that it will become more thoughtful.

What Klout could be doing – that I would PAY for – but isn’t

Since I try to keep my posts from being just complaints without actions or recommendations, I’ll turn this one into my shortlist of things I wish Klout would do, to add value to the tool and possibly even warrant a paid version. Yes, I would pay for really great execution of the following features:

  1. Define a strategy or path for building my influence on a topic – show me who I should try to reach, and how my Klout score (influence) would be impacted by an engagement with them.
  2. Keep me focused – when I am doing something really well, keep me motivated to continue it. More robust reporting and analytics would be optimal – with Klout performing some analysis. Example: By analyzing my twitter activity, my blog comments, and my google analytics account, Klout is able to determine that my posts on a particular topic, or day and time, drive more activity. It recommends what I should be doing to further the momentum.
  3. Tell me who isn’t following me that should be – Klout should look across the social channels it monitors and tell me what users would benefit from my content, and give me suggestions for how to target them.
  4. Better differentiate between my personal influence and my professional – the “moments” feed shows me some of the posts I have made that have yielded the most klout / influence. Nearly unanimously, though, they are all “likes” from my friends of my family pictures I have posted in my personal life. Yes, I could just not link my personal FB account to Klout, but that’s not the world I live in – I’m buying into work / life integration vs. separation, and for me, this also means the ability to minimize the number of accounts I have and to be myself – personally and professionally – without having to maintain a ton of identities online.

What about you? How are you using Klout? What other features would you pay for? I’d love your thoughts, and I’m sure the folks at Klout would, too.

Like this article? I appreciate your RT’s, Likes, and +1′s. Or hell, give me some Klout.



2 Responses to Losing Klout: What Klout could be doing to earn my money – but isn’t
  1. Carolina A. Rollins Reply

    The problem is when companies use Klout or something similar blindly. Klout – and any algorithm-derived data point – should be used directionally and for trending purposes, not adhered to slavishly. It’s one piece of information that needs to be combined with (ideally) several others to do social CRM well. After all, the most important thing to know isn’t online “influence” but historical relationship between that customer and your company, and their corresponding lifetime value. I fear not that Klout is so inaccurate as to be baseless. I fear that lazy companies use it as a replacement for sound CRM and database marketing initiatives that bolt together multiple data points for better business intelligence. (Admittedly, doing this well isn’t easy today, although companies like janrain are getting there fast, and certainly SalesForce is eyeing it big-time with their Radian6 acquisition).

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