Not everybody likes Klout

I have been experimenting with Klout and Empire Avenue for a few weeks now. It is no use being a communications professional in the modern world with out trying out new things to see how they work.

Empire Avenue is an amazing, distracting game which bolsters users’ reach and influence in social media, but it’s debatable whether its top players actually do or say anything to make profits outside of promoting. Empire Avenue and Klout (and the other new social media boosters). Some players are using it in a way which I would consider appopriate to social marketing: they use it, but they only use it to connect with and boost networks that are relevant to their customers and suppliers. I will do a more fulsome post about it it soon.

Quite a lot of people like Klout. It is an online social network measurement tool that plugs into Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and your blogs to show how many people are connected to you and how much they pass on your messages or ‘like’ things that you do.

Quite a few people do not like Klout. Even some people have have quite high scores, for example, a cartoon blog I like called xkcd. Their Klout score is 37.  Another example is web developer Tom Scott (Klout score 50), who was recently featured in Forbes for his witty and direct parody, Klouchebag.

Gathering from a recent Twitter search, there is also a proportion of people  who can see with their own two eyes how daggy it is, but can’t help liking it because they have high scores.

This is understandable, given that many of us creative types spend our lives trying to escape scoring etc and, when we do actually get a great score (eg my 100% for English in year 12, whinge) they say, well, what you do is an art/craft so I can’t see how that scoring could be accurate. This is my score at the moment, but if I went on holidays or stopped playing Empire Avenue, it would probably go down. Brands that are online identities, in addition, with multiple people managing the accounts, get to build their networks quite intensely and in a focused way, and so would probably not suffer if one person went on holidays.

The other thing that proves the Klout is a bit clunky is, my blog posts are not exactly focused. There’s a lot of social justice, a bit on entrepreneurship, quite a bit of feminism and so on, but given that I started the blogs to get my writing muscles nice and strong after a spell of intense editing, they aren’t exactly what you would call targeted.

My question is, how can a system that measures influence continue to be valid if the individuals and networks it measures operate outside the ‘like’, ‘follow’ world? There are quite a few very successful writers and other creative types I follow who just tweet fairly casually when they’ve finished a bit of work, and people visit their site. If the audience likes it, they tell them on twitter.

So, online network measurement games still measure things like how many people clicked on which link when and so on,  but they miss all the granular, qualitative stuff designed to fly under the radar for the simple reason that the people are thinking in a more sophisticated way that the system is. Ergo, it is not measuring true influence from creative types who don’t like Klout.

Therefore, it is also not accurately measuring the reach and influence of the big brands who like to quantify everything, because that measurement is a comparison with all other online network communications.

I’m not ready to draw conclusions yet.  I leave that up to xkcd for the moment: Klout.


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