Why Klout is Dangerous

I have posted two previous articles and one at SMM Magazine on the Klout menace. Mark Schaefer has recently posted a number of warnings on his excellent blog, Grow. But I think the topic deserves another visit.

Mechanically measuring someone’s influence using an algorithm is going to be imprecise and quirky. Does anyone really believe that Justin Bieber is the most influential living being? or even the most influential online American?

I check my ratings on PeerIndex, Klout and TweetGrader and my rank on SMM marketing professors list, but don’t get distraught when I have slipped a point or another highly followed marketing professor has emerged. It is kind of fun to see how I and my online friends are rated and ranked.

What is the problem?

I am not looking for a job, selling my consulting services, desperate for a free giveaway or in need of approval. But others on twitter are. Recent WSJ and NY Times articles have shown that job hunters were screened by influence scores and some have begun putting them on resumes! Hiring decisions have been based on scores. Companies have offered previews or free goods or services to “high influencers.”

Klout is preying on these trends as it tries to make its site more “social.” Special offers for tweeters with are highlighted. And everyone can award 5 +Ks a day. For now the +Ks don’t mean anything in the Klout rankings but they give us a chance to pat each other on the back (FollowerFriday every day!) and keep us coming to the site. Watching the site daily we should get caught up in the trend of our score and worry about it. [I confess that I now visit the site more often…] Increased focus on influence measures matters since:

  • Measuring an activity changes it.
  • People will try to behave to the measure.
  • Many will cheat. (See Atlanta Public Schools)

In some of his recent columns Mark Schaefer has reported the despicable ethics in SEO: How long till they spread to SM influence? How long till a large number of tweeters decide:

  • To follow or follow-back based on solely on influence scores,
  • To increase frequency of their posts significantly
  • Choose post content based on RT rates, and
  • Hire fake re-tweeters?

Twitter will be a different environment!

What can we do?

Some actions to help save SM include:

  1. Don’t focus on our Klout score
  2. If we refer to influence scores refer to two or three measures instead of just one.
  3. Try to remain true to our interests and relationships on Twitter.

Other posts see:

Will Klout kill twitter?: http://t.co/pD6HAsy from me Klout: An Infographic http://bit.ly/nBFhtV from @markwschaefer Social media slut http://bit.ly/p2Tj0P from @markwschaefer Will Klout Kill Community? http://t.co/K2Ax7dj SMM Magazine Big fat Klout scores http://bit.ly/paCZqj via @markwschaefer