- By john mataraza
- On November 9th, 2011
- In Social Media 101
As you may know, Klout recently changed its algorithms for ranking social media influencers—and there has been a lot of fallout. (If you don’t know about these constantly changing metrics, it’s probably time to look into Klout, if for no other reason than to determine your own Klout score).
My favorite part about all this Klout Komplaining is that almost every blogger, pundit, critic, journalist always comes back with the faux aloof retort “I don’t care about my Klout score” or “nobody cares about their Klout score.” Oh… really? Something about their impassioned essays about how much they think Klout is irrelevant makes me wonder how irrelevant they actually find Klout to be. Let’s face it, this point of view is the grown-up equivalent of not getting invited to the cool kids party you “didn’t want to go anyway,” right? Like it or not, Klout, at least for now, is completely relevant and interesting and worthy of discussion.
Our anger over Klout is in part derived from the built in human emotion to want to be accepted and influential. We all at once crave and loathe being categorized, labeled, and scored. We “hate” it so much that we check in to see our score every day. It’s hard to find places in the world after college to get a “grade” to know how you are doing, to get a sense for how people feel about you. I suppose there are titles and such in the workplace but titles are really only an indicator of past performance, not a measuring stick against your present worth.
Alright, so Klout changed the rules a little on us mid stream (insert sound of baby crying). Was that fair? Of course it’s fair, why isn’t it fair, because we learned a way to game the system a little to inflate our scores? The alleged point of Klout is to measure how impactful you are socially, not how good you are at tricking Klout into believing you are more socially eminent that you actually are. Another complaint echoing around the social-sphere these is that Klout’s algorithm is shrouded in mystery. Well, how about that, a company that doesn’t disclose how it makes its special sauce, oh the nerve. Hell, if we are mad that we aren’t being told how exactly a company does their “thing” we should start going after Google, Coke, and that plotting and secretive Colonel from Kentucky Fried Chicken. If there was a mistake Klout did make, it was not just making a more clear declaration of what they were doing and standing behind it. “Hey, our data jocks over here at Klout realized we could do this better, so starting tomorrow we are tweaking our recipe for determining influence. Some of your scores will go down. Please don’t get too mad, it’s just the Internet. The end.”
There is a lot of anger as well over the fact that Klout went back in time and normalized scores to account for the new algorithm change. Why is this so annoying? I guess it’s just me but I don’t want to see my old “wrong” score like some sort of nostalgic trip down eminence memory lane. Hey put up the score that seemed higher because my ego is so fragile that I need to be reminded of a more pleasant time and place where I was cooler.
Alright so there are a number of potentially nefarious things also happening related to Klout. There are some alleged privacy issues, some concerns about sharing of minors’ information, it’s been hard to opt out, they might be selling information about you. All that said, what about any of this is new? I’m not saying it should be accepted as OK; it should not, but let’s not pretend any of these concerns are unique to Klout. Additionally, if companies are going to hire people, pay them, and not charge the user, they do need to actually make money somehow. This last piece always comes as a shock to notoriously miserly social surfers.
It’s true, nobody should be revolving their online lives around some kind of score or ranking. As with SEO, the best way to perform well is to just do what you do to the best of your abilities. Write good content, share good stories, stay relevant, and most of all, enjoy and be passionate about what you are talking about. Look, if you have a lot of extra energy laying around that you don’t know what to do with, you can use it to hate Klout, I guess. Trouble is they are the only ones really doing this right now—which makes it, for the moment, a de facto standard of sorts.
This leaves you with a few options; you can wait around for a better provider, provide feedback to improve Klout or just opt out. However, that last option involves not checking your score. Every. Day.