The Final Word on Klout?

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To be honest with you, in light of all of the recent blog posts and Twitter conversations about the subject, I never intended to write this blog post about Klout. But as I pointed out earlier in defense of Klout, it is one barometer of how active someone is in social media. Klout is in a never-ending battle to measure activity and display those that have actual influence with a higher number, and that is not an easy task as you can imagine. I’m not a fan of the debate among those in social media as to whether or not the changes are fair or not, so I wanted to remind others that the success of Klout doesn’t come down to listening to those blogging or complaining about it: It comes down to whether or not brands will accept the measurement or not.

Let me explain.

As you already know, Klout recently revised their algorithm which, based on my own personal experience and others I know in social media, brought many a score down. I’m not here to talk about my own score, because I really don’t care and have never posted a badge of it or thought of it as “social proof,” but I do want to look at Klout from a marketing perspective in light of these changes.

Brands depend on Klout being an objective measurement tool to signify who does, and who doesn’t, have social media influence. Because many have tried to game the system by being more active on Twitter, for example, Klout made their changes in hopes of greater transparency and accurate measurement.

The interesting thing is that it seems those on Twitter that have been the biggest evangelizers of the service to measure social media influence are also those that had their scores go down the most. And a few are already looking at deleting their accounts altogether. At this juncture, I would imagine that Klout would want to become the default authority on the subject – and therefore want to be all-encompassing for everyone that participates in social media. But if their true goal is excellence in their algorithm, this is the decision they had to make.

All of this, though, is irrelevant.

At the end of the day, market economics will determine the success of Klout. Will brands feel that the new algorithm is better? Will those that they choose to be “influential” because of their Klout score “deliver” what they were looking for? One brand that I am working with realized that they did not even need to use Klout scores to determine potential influencers and merely reached out to a few people that they considered “influencers” and asked for their recommendations as to who had social influence in a particular sphere.

Perhaps some of the competition, such as PeerIndex and Kred, will look at this as an opportunity to gain influence (pun intended) with their services.

For social media marketers, having a selection of various metrics to choose from in measuring social media influence can only be a welcome addition to our toolbox. Just as brands will have to determine if they feel the new Klout algorithm is a step forward or not, we social media marketers will also need to determine which metrics we feel best justify “influence” or at least help us in our analysis of social media users.

I expect continued debate on this subject of social media influence and Klout, here and on Twitter, so here’s your chance: What’s your take?

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