What’s Killing Klout? What About Other Reputation Systems?

Online Reputation Marketing or Management - Killing KloutI’m about to change the 7th Discipline of Social Media from Klout to Reputation Management System. I think Klout is dropping the ball and selling out to the “marketing” of reputation rather than the “reporting” of reputation. There is a huge difference.

Let’s take a look a several parts of Klout to get a glimpse into what I mean.

Klout loves to greet you with encouragement, “looking good” and “congratulations” and even award badges (like 4square) that seem a bit too promotional. I find myself saying, “Uh, yeah, thanks Klout.”

And they are doing a better job of showing how the Klout score is calculated. Here’s a handy chart to show just how well I am doing. Again, relative to what or who?

And I have a bit of a problem with Foursquare being any part of someone’s Klout score. Location-based marketing has a place, I’m sure of it (and @aaronstrout tells me it is so), but I don’t LIKE Foursquare or Gowalla checkins. The “I am at…” post is one of the things I filter out of my Tweetstream and Facebook news feed. Don’t care. It’s like the early days of Twitter. I’m at McDonalds. I’m at Starbucks. I’m going to bed. So putting Foursquare as part of an “authority” score seems a bit off to me. But that’s just me.

And now let me introduce you to the Gods of Social Media and the Rulers of Klout.

Someone the other day asked me, “Who the f is Chris Brogan, and why is he so awesome in relationship to social media?” And I ask myself occasionally, “Who the f is Mari Smith and why is she such a social media bad ass?” Heck I even occasionally get irritated at damn Pete Cashmore, the handsome Social Magnate of Mashable for his “oh so helpful” posts. Another GOD of Social Media: 89, 79, and 75 respectively. And I would guess Justin Bieber is a 100? I mean what is the scale? What’s a perfect score? What’s the ratio of difference between me and Mari? Okay, so I probably won’t come close to reaching the top 1,000 of Social Media on Klout. No problem. But why would adding my Foursquare account make me any more authoritative about anything?

Okay so here we go into MY TOPICS: See if you notice anything?

I don’t know who this person is:

But she’s given me K in every single topic. Even some I didn’t know I was writing about.

And this one looks a bit like a pornster. Yes they are starting to make inroads into social media marketing too. (post: How BotNets Work)

And finally this woman, who has a Klout score up with Brogan and company, again who I have never met and have no knowledge of who she is or what she writes about.

And so what do I do? Well, of course I give them K back. So they keep giving me K. It’s about the same 10 people I give props to with Klout. Something’s a bit amiss with that, don’t you think. At least awarded K does not influence your actual Klout Score. It’s more like high-fiving the people who are high-fiving you. And I guess Chris Brogan and Mari Smith have a lot of people who high-five them all the time.

Okay, so here’s the rub. The main rub with Klout, IMHO.

Klout cannot stop pimping Klout. Every other person who shows up in my Klout pages is a marketing target that Klout wants me to tap for them. It’s like hundreds of ADS not about my influencers or influencees, it’s more about Klout wanting me to expand Klout. And it’s not just 10% of the users that show up, it’s now about 80% of the users, have this “INVITE TO KLOUT!” callout all over them. GROSS. That’s what I mean by marketing KLOUT rather than representing KLOUT.

Because if I could GAME or BUY my way into Brogan’s KLOUT LEVEL, I might do it, if it meant money. And if KLOUT is MOST interested in promoting KLOUT, well, can you see where this is going?

I hope Klout recovers from the recent backlashes against their unauthorized Klout scoring and predatory “Invite to Klout” practices. Because I do think Klout and the Klout Chrome plugin are very valuable tools. And they will evolve, hopefully for the better. I’m a critic because I care. I want Klout to get it right, because so many have failed and are failing in this space.

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Klout Alternatives to Reputation Reporting/Scoring

UPDATE: An interesting post from Social Media Maven Scott Allen on his Klout Disaster.

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
permalink: http://uber.la/2012/01/killing-klout/

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Klout has never had any real clout with me. As you pointed out; “What is the scale?” And, I question how it’s calculated…as I’m sure others do. Maybe, when Klout becomes the score by which one can obtain a mortgage, it will be worth “building.” For now.. it’s like having a “Platinum” card. Remember when those were the elite card?

    1. Ah, the Platinum Klout. I think they will be selling that shortly. I wonder what the interest rate will be. Thanks Jim.

  2. I wrote this about Klout for the Klout Squad, trying to be helpful. the question I was answering is how to make lists in Klout better, and I picked out what is most difficult for me: I can’t get the relativity of it, or the qualitative impact of it.  What everyone seems to want to know is, “How do I get better, or better Klout?” But is that always the game with all social media? 

    People creating these lists may not be seeking highest score as an attribute. Here is one of Klout’s biggest hurdles. What is social relevancy? It’s an interesting premise because it has to borrow from a traditional idea about influence. It’s a quality issue that cannot be ranked wholesale. People may choose influencers and list them in ways counter to what Klout considers “of value.” here we have to ask, who shapes Klout’s idea of value? Brands, which pay Klout?or social consumers, who use Klout to find success in media? What happens if these two consumer groups have mismatching value sets? Klout ends up being a tension creator, like traditional advertising — it tells people they need something they feel they cannot obtain. It always remains a little bit vague how one “obtains” Klout. 

    1. “How do I get better Klout?” It’s a good question. Thanks for your insights Doug. #klout #noklout

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