Saturday, October 29, 2011

Klout responds to questions and critics

Questions and criticisms have been swirling around the changes to the Klout Score this past week. I decided to post some questions to Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout. He was traveling so Megan Berry, Marketing Manager at Klout agreed to step in and answer on behalf of Klout.

Her response is below. It arrived Friday (24 hours after she offered to answer the questions) by email and as a comment – cited here - on a previous blog:

Hey Mike,

As I mentioned, I was getting you the responses to these questions. I was in the process of drafting them when I saw this post so I sent them to you in email just now and I'll also post here:

1. Some of the criticisms of the new Klout are that it is not transparent enough. In other words you made changes that altered scores in some case by 20 points, but have not given explanations about why those changes were so dramatic. What do you say to this criticism?
Hey Mike, we announced the upcoming changes the week before with Joe's post on
why we believe the change was needed and we also had a post on the day of announcement explaining the changes. As you know as someone in the field, social media is constantly evolving and as a measure of your influence there, we need to evolve as well.

2. A quick, early analysis seems to show that those who have linked all of the accounts Klout currently allows users to connect have kept their scores relatively the same or now have higher scores. This would seem to penalize, for example, non-iPhone owners who cannot have an Instagram account of those who blog on something other than Tumblr or Wordpress. Your response?
Hey Mike, we measure influence equally independent of network. Lady Gaga, for instance (
http://klout.com/#/ladygaga), is only measured based on Twitter and has one of our highest Scores. You do not need to connect multiple networks to have influence but if you do influence on a network, it will help you to connect it (we can then give you credit for that influence).

3. One of the themes in the criticisms is that there could have been an “old Klout” and a “new Klout” or “Klout+” as a way to allow users to decide how serious they wanted to be about their score. Your reaction?
Hey Mike, do you mean letting people choose which scoring system they want to use? Technologically it takes a lot of infrastructure to process 3 Billion pieces of content and connections daily so apart from any other concerns having 2 pipelines isn't feasible in the long term. We are always looking to move forward and improve, we think once people look at these scores in context and get a chance to see the improvements they will grow to like them.

4. Another prevalent criticism: It seems the new Klout Score penalizes people who are genuinely involved with others on social media regardless of their influence scores versus those who are selective and only “talk” to high influencers. This seems to encourage a new form of social media class snobbery. What are your thoughts?
You are never penalized for talking to people with lower scores. We believe * everyone * has Klout and anytime someone takes action based on your content that adds to your influence. Yes, if they have a higher score, that adds to your influence *more * but either way we give you credit for that and you are never penalized.

5. Twitter and Google+ have been full of people saying they have or will rescind permissions for Klout in protest, the *OccupyKlout and *KloutPout hashtags have cropped up. Can Klout survive and thrive this reaction to what you consider a big improvement?
We definitely are working to listen to feedback and are always improving. We believe once people get a chance to interact with our new scoring system they will grow to understand its improvements.

So, how did Megan do? Did she answer the questions you have?

Related posts:
Klout questions for CEO Joe Fernandez
Klout changes ... scores drop and complaints rise

8 comments:

  1. "We believe * everyone * has Klout and anytime someone takes action based on your content that adds to your influence."

    How is it even possible to measure this? If I tell someone on Twitter that they should go to more local networking events to find clients how would Klout know? You can't.

    If I suggest that someone start a blog and they do, but because Klout only looks at WordPress.com (and I always recommend self-hosting WordPress), if the person never mentions that I was the reason they started a blog, how would Klout know?

    Influence is very tricky to measure. I have a clients that has helped their clients bring in more than $1B in projects thanks to the training they provide. To me that is serious influence. They aren't highly active on social media (we're working on that), but it doesn't make them any less influential.

    Another issue I see with the entire idea of measuring online influence is that how far does your reach need to extend to be considered highly influential? Do you need to be a big fish in a big pond? Who knows.

    Klout already stated that they wouldn't share their algorithm, and of course they won't because then people could definitively game the system for their own benefit.

    Either way, I'm running a few tests with Klout and disconnecting the networks I'm not active on. This is a step toward potentially getting my account completely removed from their system.

    We'll see how the tests go. Either way it's fun to mess with but I don't use it to measure anyone's actual influence, and I don't suggest anyone else does either.

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  2. Spoken like a true politician.

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  3. Robert - thanks for the feedback here and I'd love to hear how the tests go!

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  4. Yuck

    Good conversation here about it https://plus.google.com/u/0/116986422495636163350/posts/ZFQ6KjLrq7C

    The above seems to be marketing waffle.

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  5. Hey Mike,

    I'm glad Megan answered a few questions by NOT starting with 'hey Mike.'

    Her answers were non-answers. I wish you'd asked her how to NOT have a Klout profile if one so chooses.

    And YES, it IS SM class snobbery, but you can always ignore the score. I could care less what your score is if you're interesting and enrich my life.

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  6. I know I wouldn't get an answer but one theory is that their old system was topping out i.e. there were many close to perfect scores. Klout losses any relevance once scores are high and indistinguishable. How do you handle this? By re-configuring the scoring system to lower the majority of scores of course.

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  7. Thanks for the great comments here - appreciate them all. I will likely follow up in a few days if Klout still has not made more public pronouncements.

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