The Klout Kerfuffle
kerfuffle (n): British. informal.
1. a commotion or fuss, esp. one caused by conflicting news.
This week I’ve seen perhaps the oddist display of a notorious bad habit in the social marketing sector…
About a week ago, one of the bigger internet marketers, made a (useful) Facebook post (which most likely was emailed to his list) about the power of Klout.
Now, by now, I’m sure you’re familiar with Klout but if you’re not, hang tight and I’ll share some thoughts once I explain this…
Over the course of the week, a “tagging and bragging” fest started occuring on Facebook, bragging not only on the power of Klout, but rather skillfully using the tags to build engagement which of course naturally shoots up your Klout number.
There’s a whole lot of IMers that have “just discovered” the “amazing power” of Klout… while most of us social marketers have known about Klout for ages.
What’s amusing though is that they’ve scratched each others backs (or is it butts??) and gotten each other momentarily excited about their own ability to cause this number to rise. (Aka gaming the system)
It’s easy to get caught up in their excitement – but it’s the same thing that prior groups of marketers (who were more tuned into social sites) have done with Klout before – and have previously grown bored with.
While the original marketer had a good grasp on the difference between what Klout CAN do for you and what is just hype, many of the copycats unfortunately had no such intellectual understanding.
These pockets of interest are a fad. But it’s also a sign of influence when these fads momentarily become “all the rage” in a pocket of friends.
What Is Klout And Why Do We Care?
What is Klout? Klout is the name of http://Klout.com a site which attempts to measure and score your social media influence based on the engagement you receive on things you post on the social networks that it measures.
What else does Klout do? It also provides some indexing of your friends/followers and helps you identify influences. You can also get freebies called “perks” (things like coupons, free coffee samples, etc) if you are an influencer in related topics. Recently, they added content curation to the things they include.
What’s the problem with Klout? It’s an imperfect algorithm that sometimes decides you’re influential in random items – AND – it’s a score that is rather easy to game (raise the number artificially).
Does Klout matter?
Sure it does – but probably not in the way you think.
Because they do two things:
1) Provide a UNIFIED view of your skillset across social media. When these tools agree on what it is that you do, there’s a good chance you do actually DO these things and that reduces the legwork someone has to do to prove you are awesome.
2) Provide a way for brands, business, HR departments, hiring managers and business owners to establish if you have capabilities.
Additionally, sites like SumAll (formerly TwentyFeet), Sprout Social, PeerIndex and others all ALSO provide scoring and influence measuring systems… but they are done behind closed doors and there is less ability to track and adjust them if they are performing oddly.
Many people HATE that brands and businesses use these scores to determine if they should hire you, contract you, offer your book deals/speaking positions, or partner with you, but regardless of your like or dislike of the matter, it’s the truth. And even though they can be gamed, it remains the truth.
The role of these sites is NOT to become something you spend a ton of time micro-managing, but is to give you a way to ensure that anyone that looks for you on any of them finds the same thing.
When multiple sites agree that you excel at the topics of interest to employers and business owners – then you have less trouble convincing them of your capabilities.
There is also Connect.Me which is similar but different from the standpoint that it uses a different verification mechanism but still leans heavily on your friends vouching for you. I’m actually really fond of Connect.me and it’s low maintenance. Check it out here.
Klout stats can be gamed and messed with, but rarely will people continue to do the work it takes to make it happen when they discover that it isn’t going to make them a pile of money.
Klout is not an indication of how much you will make. It’s not an indication of how you might monetize your influence. It’s “merely” an indication of that social influence. While it CAN lead to better things, those things are outside of the things that Klout measures.
(What this means is that someone with a Klout of 52 can be making substantially more money – and potentially even have more marketable skills – than someone with a Klout of 85. Because income does not directly correlate to social reach because some individuals make better use of their reach than others.)
I’m sure that, by looking through the graphics I’ve included from these services, you can get a pretty well rounded picture of the things I do, the people I’m connected with, and where I have reach within these communities… and THAT is exactly the job of these sites.
I spend about 30 minutes, once a month, double checking these sites for accuracy and doing minor housekeeping. If I have some free moments, I also spend perhaps another 30 minutes a month passing out +K (Klout) and +Kred (Kred) on those sites to help give my friends and colleagues some love. (Klout has recently gained a little more of my time with their new content curation tool but it’s hard to say if I’ll stay using that.)
And if I forget about them for a month, nothing blows up, no harm done, and that’s the way I like it!
So, yes these sites are important, but no they should not be getting the goofy behavior they’ve been getting this week from certain marketers.
I hope this helps you understand where Klout (and Kred… etc) fit in your social media marketing plan, as well as helping you to avoid the recent round of hype.
Here’s to your success!
~ Kim ~
Simple Tips For Marketing
PS: If you feel I’ve assisted you or helped you build your business, I’d love if you gave me some +K on Klout (click here and then click on one of the tags under my header) or alternatively leave me a Recommendation on LinkedIn or Review on Facebook!