Klout: What’s It All About?

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Digital Dish

First off, fantastic piece by @SethStevenson – Page for User Insight

I joked about Klout last year when I found it through Google and it said I was influential in things like Vampires (to be fair, I had just watched two of the Twilight movies and did tweet a few times about #teamjacob and #whyisbellasuchawhiner… and #jacobsabs) – it was a laughable moment.

Klout is touted as this new badge of ‘something’, be it cool or influence or popularity, and as such, it also (naturally) comes with perks. In addition, the article points out how Klout scores now bear weight on your job prospects. People trying to raise their Klout scores via Twitter (*Note: you can gain Klout points from other social networks, but since I shunned Facebook, I only can talk about Twitter) have to accomplish two things: One, they have to tweet a lot more.  And two, their tweets have to be more focused. I imagine, overall, that my tweets and yours are pretty focused on your interests or what you find interesting. However, what baffles me is that people put effort into this to boost their scores or become minor thought leaders concerning certain topics.

This section of the article made me cringe: “Lee once took a vacation during which he had no access to the Internet. This made him uncomfortable. ‘I was worried that brands couldn’t get in touch with me. It’s easy for them to forget about you. And I knew my Klout score would go down if I stopped tweeting for too long.’”  This guy was actually concerned that the brands couldn’t get in touch with him – is this really what brand loyalty is all about?

While I get the application of Klout, I do not believe that it is as relevant or powerful as it could be. It’s also why I advocate for qualitative, in-person research, human to human. That’s not to say that this kind of research doesn’t have its purpose, but it should be an add-on, not a driver. Klout scores could be applied to a greater body of knowledge – it could be actionable once we understand who users really are, within a certain scope.

What I appreciated most about this article was Stevenson’s last paragraph: “The un-Kloutiest’s thoughts, jokes, and bubbles of honest emotion felt rawer, more authentic, and blissfully oblivious to the herd. Like unloved TV shows, these people had low Nielsen ratings—no brand would ever bother to advertise on their channels. And yet, these were the people I paid the most attention to. They were unique and genuine.”  I couldn’t agree more.