Tuesday, 24 January 2012
KLOUT: A Force To Be Reckoned With Or Kommercial Klaptrap Koncealed As Kudos?
But awarding klouts to other people is just one way in which your overall Klout score is calculated. A raft of variables is taken into account, including numbers of @mentions, retweets, likes, and comments.
As Klout explains on its website:
"The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others. The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure:
True Reach: How many people you influence
Amplification: How much you influence them
Network Impact: The influence of your network"
Note the phrase "drive action"...It is significant and I shall come back to it later.
I just checked and my own score has gone up 3 points (to 50) since I last looked. Yes, people have kindly carried on klouting me while I stopped dead in my tracks six weeks ago. So why did I do that? Well, partly because I was travelling most of that month, but also because I started to doubt the meaningfulness of the whole Klout system.
So that was one thing, and another flaw as I saw it is that it is considered good form to klout back people kind enough to klout you, so to a certain extent the mutual klouting cancels itself out, like when you retweet somebody's blog post and they return the favour. Ironically therefore, my being paralysed with indecision lately and failing to klout anyone in return may explain why my score has risen in the interim.
And then, out of the blue, right around the time I was having my dark night of the soul about the fallibility of Klout's measurement methods, I received an email from Katie Puckrik herself, congratulating me on my ranking and explaining that she had just signed up, having read about Klout in a "well-placed article" in the NY Times. However, her early enthusiasm was already tempered by a reservation about which social media were being analysed, Katie being of course famous in particular for her blog and her YouTube perfume reviews.
So I wrote back, explaining my own misgivings, and a Klout-centric "Perfume Pen Pals" exchange ensued. Katie sent me the link to the article in the NY Times, which further confirmed my surprise that I had such a high score - a score that would gain me admittance to exclusive society bashes in Manhattan, no less - which seemed a very silly state of affairs, given the relative nobody I actually am.
Katie, meanwhile, wrote to Klout, inquiring about the basis of the rankings, specifically whether her YouTube and Blogger presence was factored into her overall score.
It sounds almost too good to be true, but the person who replied to her email was called Kameron (with a "K"!) Maybe all the staff have to kloutify their Christian names as a condition of working there... : - )
I apologize for the delay.
At this time, the only networks that contribute to your Klout score is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Google+. The other networks that you can connect for your Klout profile, we are still testing.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Vanessa: "...YouTube is absolutely massive - think of the reach and impact of those viral clips of cats playing the piano etc that are seen and circulated by millions. How is that not influence? And what about the luminaries who are very influential, but do not engage with social media particularly - like Luca Turin? At least I don't think he does, whereas I have seen photos of Andy Tauer's hotel rooms in London and Chicago, and one of a chicken in his oven."
And then I started wondering about what Klout is trying to achieve at the end of the day, and have a feeling it might be something to do with linking up influential people (as determined by Klout) and brand owners.
Klout Perks are exclusive products or experiences that you earn based on your influence. Influencers have earned sweet Perks like laptops and airline tickets."
Sweet perks, eh?
You have no obligation to talk about the product. You're
welcome to tell the world you love it, you dislike it, or say nothing at all."
No worries - I had no intention of stressing!
Then in the FAQs on Perks we learn more about how their location is determined:
"Often companies are interested in giving Perks to influencers in a specific neighborhood. For instance, pizzerias in North Beach don't care how influential you are if you live in NYC. We look at a collection of data to determine your location, including the zip code that you put in your Klout profile, your Facebook location and your Twitter location (don't worry, we never share our data)."
Well, hold on a minute...the Klout people don't appear to have determined my location very closely. The only perk I have earned so far is a $10 voucher off an online sports gear company that I have never heard of, and which I can confirm is nowhere near where I live and exert my all-important influence... ; - )
And finally, when you click on the "Business" tab of the Klout website, the full purpose of the scheme becomes apparent.
"Klout measures influence based on the ability to drive action, not potentially misleading metrics like follower or friend count."
"Drive action" is the key phrase here - it isn't about driving action for its own sake but ultimately - or so it seems to me - about driving consumer purchases.
"Klout has analyzed over 85 million people on major social networks, and is used by over 3000 brands and applications."
And now for the bottom line:
Your customers don't trust advertising, they trust their peers and influencers. Get your product into the right hands and let them do the talking for you.
So by engaging with social media generally and by busily klouting one another and increasing our scores, we are grooming ourselves to become better brand ambassadors for a host of consumer products, like self-fattening farm animals.
So tell me, are you bothered about "doing the talking" for a pizzeria in North Beach or wherever you may live? And if consumers don't trust advertising, having seen how we may be being used as brand "mules", do you still trust Klout?
Now I gather that HR Managers are starting to look at Klout rankings as a measure of what sort of "mover and shaker" a job candidate might be. Perhaps they are the new gap year or Duke of Edinburgh award. So I am not saying that an individual might not benefit in terms of career advancement or admission to fashion shows and the like on the strength of his or her Klout score. However, fundamentally it smacks to me of a peer network marketing scheme built on vanity.
In fact, on an impulse I just googled "Klout" and "vanity", and found an article describing it as the "ultimate vanity metric". So there you go - there's an actual term for it!
And to everyone who has klouted me up to this point, thanks for that, as I know it was done in good faith and I appreciate the support. Only now I am not so sure that Klout has all the klout it's kracked up to have. And neither does Katie, despite having a "K" in her name...
Photo of Klout screen from offthegrid-pr.com, photo of graph from ubergizmo.com, photo of chocolate from en.wikipedia.org, photo of Katie from beauty-video-tutorial.com, photo of Katie Puckrik Smells from handpickedmedia.co.uk, photo of velvet rope from howtobeamoneymagnet.com, photo of cat playing the piano from curezone.com, photo of pizza restaurant from foodhoe.com, photo of Klout logo from level343.com