Klout, The Tinkerbell Effect Remix


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The Tinkerbell effect describes those things that exist only because people believe in them (source wikipedia). I wrote a post last spring while blogging for my friends at SugarCRM where I talked about Social CRM succumbing to this phenomenon. I suppose I could make this really controversial and slam Klout. But, Klout is simply supplying the ‘fix’ of choice; popularity, to the Social elite. While at the same time emphasizing some really bad life lessons (ego and elitism, to name just a couple). It goes without saying that Twitter likes it. To “get more” Klout, just use Twitter more; that according to Klout Chief Executive Joe Fernandez, as seen in the Wall Street Journal:

Last year, Britney Spears’ managers, Adam Leber and Larry Rudolph, requested a meeting with Klout Chief Executive Joe Fernandez in San Francisco. Over a lunch of Chinese food, they grilled Mr. Fernandez on why Ms. Spears’ Klout score, then around 64, was lower than Lady Gaga’s 78 and Ashton Kutcher’s 77.

“What are these people doing better than us?” Mr. Fernandez says they asked.

Mr. Fernandez says he advised them to tell Ms. Spears to tweet more frequently and to send more tweets herself instead of having others tweet on her behalf.

Let’s Fast Forward a Bit

I really wanted to try and avoid writing a post on Klout, but temptation simply got the best of me. I saw – on Twitter of all places, go figure – a link to a post on Klout, where Trey Pennington shared the following:

Klout’s founder, Joe Fernadez, is both a genius and a gentleman. He recognized a need in the marketplace and has been working aggressively to satisfy that need. The business press is taking note and is given him and his company earned recognition (and venture capitalists are giving him/them the big bucks to back it up).

In reviewing some of Trey’s recent posts, I realized I had jumped in, in the middle and missed the context of the series, where Trey first talks about how people can game the system, and ends (well, at least as of this writing it seemed done) with some real words of wisdom.

Many people recognized the humor and absurdity of my four keys. I’m glad. If you’ve heard me speak, read my blog, or engaged with me online, you know I cherish Zig Ziglar’s oft-quoted axiom, “You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.” You’ve probably also heard me state and defend against all challenges the admonition, “Follow back every person who follows you on Twitter.” Even though that suggestion STILL ruffles some people’s feathers, I still advocate accepting another human being’s out-stretched hand.

Which brings us back to the real issue of increasing one’s influence. Is that a worthwhile goal? I wonder if influence, like corporate profits, is a by-product of rendering valuable service to others. Render enough valuable service to others, and you’ll have all the influence you need.

In my exploration, using Social means, I have found that the people who have the most influence are the ones who are truly humble, the ones who would prefer not to have influence. If you really want to dive in deep on the science of influence, spend some time reading Michael Wu’s posts, starting with this one. Michael started the series last April, and readily admits that it is in its infancy:

Influence marketing today is in a state of experimentation that scientists call the pre-paradigm phase or exploratory phase. During this phase, everyone is trying different approaches based on experience. There are incomplete theories about why some approaches work and others fail, but there is no underlying fundamental principle that explains everything.

The idea of Klout is not bad, but in its current form, it actually is bad. There is no context to the influence. There is no shortcut to getting to the right people. People who I know are, or should be, more influential on a particular topic have better things to do than to hang out on Twitter, so guess what, their score suffers. I also know that many others will do a better job at analyzing this topic.

The Conclusion? Klout is not here because people are confused nor because people really need it, in its current form. Klout is here because they have marketed it well.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mitch Lieberman
Finding patterns and connecting the dots across the enterprise. Holding a strong belief that success is achieved by creating tight alignment between business strategy, stakeholder goals, and customer needs. systems need to be intelligent and course through enterprise systems. Moving forward, I will be turning my analytical sights on Conversational Systems and Conversational Intelligence. My Goal is to help enterprise executives fine-tune Customer Experiences


  1. Mitch, great post. I had forgotten about Tinkerbell and didn’t know there was such a thing as the “Tinkerbell effect” but it certainly fits.

    Beliefs are powerful things. We do all sorts of things because of what we think or perceive to be true, sometimes ignoring facts that don’t support the belief.

    Reminds me of a lesson a customer taught me when I was a trainee at IBM — “perception is reality.” So if people think being influential is important (and most of us have egos) and that Twitter might have something to do with it, we’ll naturally work harder to that recognition.

    I don’t agree completely that it’s just marketing, however. Apple has numerous competitors that offer functional capabilities similar to, or better than, the iPod, iPhone, etc. But Apple is satisfying other needs like being “cool.” And marketing played a role in that, not just the product design. Think of all those TV commercials showing people dancing along with an iPod. Was Apple selling a device to play music or something else?

    Personally, I’ve taken a look at my Klout score and thought it does a respectable job of creating an overall score. People I know that are more active than me (like you, Graham Hill, Esteban Kolsky) all score higher than I do, which makes perfect sense because I’m an infrequent Twitter user.

    But I think it’s quite a stretch for Klout to claim it’s a “Measurement of your overall online influence.” It looks like a decent measure of Twitter influence, but hey, that’s just my perception!

  2. Bob,

    Thanks for the comment, some fun points. I am glad you mentioned that you took a look at your score. I clearly have to admit I have as well! Anyone who writes about Klout would have to take a peek, and therefore there is a bit of ego involved (why am I higher or lower than so and so).

    It may be a little bit more than just marketing, agreed. Klout were among the first who allow people that care, to get a bit of an ego boost by looking, and maybe even working towards boosting their own scores.

    As some have suggested, and I agree, this model will undergo some changes, it will be fun to see where it goes.



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