The Klout Konundrum- Its here, its for real…Shane Soapbox
What is Klout
Much like a credit rating agency monitors your financial transactions offline and assigns you a credit score, Klout monitors your social interactions online to determine your credibility score. In both cases your ‘score’ is a number within a range that goes up and and down depending on how well you manage each profile. The better you score on each index the better the terms you can obtain based on your pre determined credibility; a high credit score means lower interest rates on bank loans, a high Klout score will boost your marketability to employers and increasingly gaining you access to ‘perks’. While you cant avoid your credit score, Klout is an entirely opt-in program; if you dont sign up you dont get a ranking. Furthermore Klout currently works with only a handful of social platforms to grade your online influence. Google Plus was recently added to the Klout algorithm, giving the nascent Facebook competitor an instant boost in importance.
Firstly, go create an account on Klout.com and then connect your social networks like facebook, twitter and a handful of other platforms so Klout can directly monitor your interactions and influence you have amongst your online friends and followers e.g if you post a picture on facebook, how many ‘likes’ and comments does it generate? When you post a link on twitter, how many times is it retweeted? Its a quality of quantity game in essence, how many people are you an influencer of and by how much in each case?
What to expect
Using a proprietary algorithm Klout tallys up your social influence on a daily basis into a score which is a number between 1 and 100. Your ranking is dynamic, it can go up and go down depending on how socially active you. Go on an outback expedition in Australia for two weeks sans internet and your score will have dropped in your absence. You rebuild your score by catching up on your sharing and influencing- have a handful of great photos of you boxing a Kangaroo, put them on Facebook, video of you jumping a shark on Bondi Beach, upload it to You Tube. Everything we do and say has ‘social value’ when shared online; Klout loves original, engaging content above all else- retweeting/reposting someone else’s content earns you limited credit- in this regard, Klout looks out for the folks that spend hours/days writing the story versus those who just piggyback off their hard work (think New York Times versus Huffpo)
So what doe this all mean to you? Is this just a cheesy popularity contest for oversharers to one up each other online? Or is Klout the inevitable, if unwanted next step in the evolution of how the internet is changing how we see ourselves and one another? One thing is for sure, Klout is not going away anytime soon and has the faith of the VC community Whether we like it or not we all have a decision to make about playing the game or sitting it out.
This chap definitely wont be signing up for Klout
I’m not just a number
Much debate in the tech community has focused on the merits of the evaluation process; some users are categorized as experts on topics they have never mentioned, a recent change to the algorithm sent many a users score plummeting leading to sporadic panic and criticism along with a big dose of who really cares what Klout thinks? None of us want to be seen engaging in a popularity contest; we look askew at beauty pageants, the famous for being famous and sociopathic politicians begging for your vote. In years gone by the size of your friend network on Facebook was a social signal about your sociobility, more recently your follower count on Twitter along with how many generically glowing references you have on LinkedIn. Accumulating online connections for the sake of it is an ugly business, like filling your garage with BMW’s or complaining about the amount of overseas business travel you endure earning air miles in first class. If your online presence is important to your livelihood Klout is yet another thing on our plate to think about if we want the best opportunties to come our way.
Not all that glitters is gold
If there is one thing inevitable in the tech space its constant change; every few years what we know we know is upended by a sparkling new device or platform that redefines how we access content and communicate. Our personal timeline is littered with magic moment innovations from all manner of eager upstarts looking to tip the proverbial apple cart over. Just as Foursquare began as an off the radar guide to all things cool in New York, and dismissed as a niche player with no discernible revenue model, so Klout is seen as a fickle and artificial tool for web nerds/online sociopaths to get credit for having no life beyond the screen. Love or hate Klout (most love to hate it) its here to stay and is going to have an increasingly important say about our social authority and authenticity. Sure it measures our online activity, however who we are in the offline world informs to a degree what our indentity is online. The social media spcae is overstuffed with all manner of self styled experts; Mad Ave preaches ad nauseum their social media expertise and how they “get digital” in a 360 degree, holistic, integrated, through the line, strategic blah blah blah manner. So if everyone at the party says they brought the Heineken , how does the host figure out who dragged in the warm Milwaukee Best? Enter Klout- it might not be perfect, it still has its flaws, but its getting better in a hurry, and for a reason; With so much stake for marketers (and recruiters), Klout or something like it is a necessary evil for the people who, like me, ply their trade in the reputation management business. Talk all you want but if your not practicing what you preach, your talk is cheap.
What about me?
If your curious to see what Klout makes of your presence online, go to www.klout.com and register an account. You can grant them access to as many or as few of your social media profiles as you wish. Typically Klout is seen to favor Twitter activity over other platforms but this is changing. Its likely that by the end of 2012 you will be able to link most all of your online profiles with Klout. You will be given a score between 1-100; Only Justin Beiber gets a perfect score, Kout itself gets an 86; most celebrities & high profile journalists with a 300k plus twitter following will be in the 65-70 range, 55-65 is for influential senior tech space pundits; 40-55 is for C Level execs with limited social interactions and try hard social media contributors like myself who spend our free time creating content for online consumption. Do not be concerned if your initial foray returns a score below this threshold; it takes some time for Klout to scrape your online profiles on Twitter, Facebook etc to build your profile.
As a footnote to the POV above, I would like to introduce you to a former co worker I stay in contact with on Facebook. She works for an ad agency and is a working Mother; her Klout score hovers constantly in the 60′s- She doesnt tweet that often, nor post on Facebook and only occasionally posts videos on You Tube. I turn around at least 15 twitter posts a day, 4-6 Facebook posts, a handful of posts on this blog and a few other platforms Klout keeps tabs on and I’m in the low 50′s. You could call me a Klout nerd. Yet my friend JT continues to be ranked in the upper echelon of social influence with a relatively small online footprint. For the cynics this is an important lesson; Klout is about quality NOT quantity, its how meaningful what you say is to others and just not how much say regardless of its scale or verbosity.
Klout has a bright & meaningful future. If you cant beat it you may as well join it.