Yesterday Klout announced that they have rolled out a better algorithm. The official announcement on their corporate blog had a typical marketing/spin message, it read “A More Accurate, Transparent Klout Score”.
Those of you who have read my previous blog posts on Klout’s credibility and flaws will probably recall that one of the main issues I had raised about Klout was actually to do with transparency. Now before we go into further detail, I believe it is appropriate for me to bring something to your attention:
Klout & Transparency:
In a rather amusing way the official announcement states “a majority of users will see their Scores stay the same or go up but some users will see a drop.” That statement is similar to what you will hear from a fortune teller. To simplifiy the statement, Klout is basically saying, “hey we have made some improvements, some people’s Klout score will increase and some people’s Klout score will decrease”. I find that hilarious really, because that is a general statement. Of course score will fluctuate when you change things! What has that got to do with transparency?
If Klout actually gave us some examples showing where they had gone wrong before and what the new algorithm has done to make a positive impact then that would have been transparent. What we have now is a blog post with a nice marketing message but no sign of transparency!
I must however highlight one thing, Joe Fernandez did respond to my previous blog post and I admire him for that. But at the time when I raised some points he didn’t acknowledge them and instead tried to justify Klout’s flaws. Now that the new algorithm has been rolled out everyone is witnessing huge fluctuations, so, was I right about Klout being flawed or was Joe’s justifications correct?
Meet Neville Hobson and Mazi:
Neville and Mazi are two highly influential individuals in the social media circles, they know what they are talking about and are highly regarded. They actively create and share insightful content with their followers and readers – based on Klout’s own tips they should have high Klout scores because they do exactly what is required!
Neville’s Klout score was 74 before the latest update and Mazi’s score was 78 but with the latest update here is what they got:
Yes mere 56 and 55 basically 3 and 4 points different than mine – pretty insane, I tell you!
Here is what Neville said about Klout:
“…trust in Klout is taking a huge beating right now.”
Big hat, no cattle – Klout Monopoly:
Klout’s marketing strategy is to prematurely establish themselves as the only authentic providers of social ratings. To my despair, all the media outlets such as WSJ, CNN, Bloomberg, Silicon, Forbes are not analysing Klout objectively. Instead they just dance to Klout’s marketing tune without actually looking past the smokescreen of public relations. With all this coverage Klout seems to have set its eyes on establishing itself as a monopoly in the social ratings market by over speeding ahead of proving its credibility and true accuracy.
Now personally I don’t have any problem with accidental monopolies, these are basically companies that turn into monopolies based on their merit or strong USPs. But in Klout’s case they are trying to monopolize the social ratings market with a flawed algorithm.
You don’t have to go for to see the results of monopolies in the ratings market, just look at how S&P and Moody’s flawed credit ratings cost the world trillions of dollars when they wrongly rated financial investments a few years back. Now you might say that is an extreme example and that social rating is no where near as important or controversial as credit rating, right? Well, look at it this way. The social media industry is in its infancy, most devices that we use on daily basis have some level of integration with social media platforms therefore if flawed social ratings are not a big deal now, it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t affect you in some way or other in years to come.
Klout should stop marketing itself so aggressively particularly when it is very apparent to them and everyone else that their way of measuring influence is flawed. The latest announcement may have got them featured on big new sources but if you look at the reaction on Twitter and other social networks, you can tell it has back fired. If Klout continues to behave the way it has so far it is highly unlikely that it will stand the test of time and researchers.
Tonia Ries has found a bigger issue with Klout. She writes: “When I logged into my Klout page this morning, I was very surprised to see that Klout now lists my son as one of the people I influence. Anyone who is a parent of a young adult will know that nothing is more unlikely. And, knowing that my son is not on Twitter, and has always been very careful about managing his privacy on the Internet, how did Klout get the information to create a profile on my son???”
Taking their algorithm issues, their marketing strategy and the privacy issue raised by Tonia Ries into account, Klout is going experience a slow and painful death.
…..at least this time the 1% won?