So techcrunch founder Michael Arrington has done a 180 on Klout and has not only decided it is a worthwhile undertaking but has put his money were his mouth is by investing but are revamps of Klout and PeerIndex really going to do anything to improve the measurement of online influence and does it really make a difference?
Let’s find out!
In a blog post entitled Why I Changed My Mind On Klout (And Invested) , Mr Arrington quotes Klout founder Joe Fernandez asserting that Klout is empowering for people and that everyone wants to feel listened. Personally, I think the attraction is about Big Data because Mr Arrington’s belief that Klout is encouraging constructuve online behaviour is a bit of a joke.
I commented on this post after I saw Calvin Lee from Mayhem Studios, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times, post the link on facebook with the comment that he got pretty much get bashed up in the blog post because Arrington is quoting from an article in Wired that left out all the good Calvin does online.
Here’s my comment verbatim:
“The empowered part made me gag a little. How is this empowering? I recently stepped back from my personal social media accounts as I don’t see value in spending time there.
Is Klout supposed to “give me the recognition I deserve” for wasting time in social media by giving me faster plane boarding? LOL COME ON!
You can’t call yourself the standard for influence when you don’t measure influence. Klout measures the ability to get people talking. All that takes is controversial content and the best part is you don’t even have to create the content yourself! You just have to share it with the right people at the right time in the right way. So you’re either a great communications strategist who knows how to network and use social media, you’re gaming the system or just really lucky but that’s far too much time invested for the “reward”.Who really wins? Klout and the companies who choose to buy in to the idea that if they give people perks those people will be grateful and tell their audiences all about it which MIGHT turn into more sales. I’d love to see THAT data!
So, Klout is really just a hope and pray outreach program that takes a little less work than real brand engagement and people will gobble up free stuff if the free stuff is good enough, which is why people care about Klout anyway.Which bring me to the PageRank analogy. The only reason people care about PageRank is because they want their site to show up first in a Google search. How is that relevant here. Are people really using Klout to find “experts” ?
I hope Klout’s investors see a return on their investment but this is not like PageRank for people, nor is it empowering. It’s a lazy way to hijack someone else’s audience for the benefit of a company’s bottom line and even that benefit is dubious! All it is doing is feeding this ridiculous drive for likes, mentions, retweets and follows which really are meaningless in the grand scheme of things.”
Whilst awaiting moderation, I posted my comment on Google+ and facebook which got some responses.
On facebook, Rich Millington from FeverBee, an online community consultancy, asked:
“Isn’t it a little ironic to post this on a social media account? :-)Just curious, are you against the idea of measuring influence or against the way that Klout is doing it now? If it’s the latter, what’s the better way of doing it?”
My response to him was:
“I’ve nothing against measuring influence. I just wish Klout et al stopped calling what they measure influence. Based on my three metric model (Thank you, Wow & Done) I’d say you measure influence by looking at those people who actually help you get conversions (ie Done) but that would require good goal setting and a way to track which posts generated the most conversions rather than assuming that activity = influence. That just supports the whole drive to increase likes, RTs, mentions and follows rather than actual measurable conversions on clear calls to action.”
Marjorie Clayman from Clayman Advertising added:
“Frankly Klout is such a low priority in my life - real or online - that I don’t really care if they start measuring your influence in puppy dog tails. Now if they start giving away puppies…we’ll talk.”
Hmm, not sure how animal rights activists would feel about that but great point Margie!
Tina Brooks, VP Marketing at Peppermaster Sauces had this to say: “The second we stopped trying to GAME the search and started focusing on what our clients would look for, we started beating the “game”. Why play it, just be who you are and your target customers will find you. I think we finally figured out the “game”…”
Indeed, meeting your clients needs, wants and interests is a much more effective approach than chasing likes, RTs and follows.
Over on Google+, Aleece Germano who runs the Swap Team, answered my question: ‘Are people really using Klout to find experts,’ in the affirmative. ”The one thing I find Klout useful for is choosing bloggers to work with, because, as you put it, Klout measures the ability to get people talking. So if you’re a blogger and you want to work with brands, you should be concerned about your Klout score.”
I suppose that if you are looking for people who will help you generate buzz (which doesn’t guarantee conversions in my book) Klout would be a good place to look but does it mean they measure influence? I’m still saying no.
It wouldn’t be so bad if Klout et al were honest about what they were measuring and why. I realise conversation starting ability doesn’t sound as sexy as influence but that’s all it really is.
What do you think?