Thursday, February 27, 2014

Klout Gets Into Content Sharing

I have always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Klout. On the one hand I am not sure that influence on the web can truly be quantified. Even if I accepted that it could be, over the years I have come to doubt the accuracy of Klout scores (there are people I consider influential on the web who have rather low Klout scores). On the other hand, Klout can be useful insofar as one can view his or her posts from several social media sites across the web in one place, which can be helpful in determining those subjects in which one's followers are most interested. I must also admit that I have received several nice Perks through Klout.

Given my conflicting feelings about Klout, it is then perhaps natural that I had my doubts when I heard that Klout was moving into the arena of recommending content for one to share on his or her social media sites. Now when one logs into his or her Klout account, the first thing he or she will see is a stream of news stories relevant to those topics in which one is an expert. For instance, if one is an expert in classic film, then he or she will see articles relevant to classic film in his or her stream. With regards to these various articles, Klout will let one know if it is "Hot Off the Press" (that is, published very recently), a "Hidden Gem" (an article that there is only a small chance one's followers have seen it), or "On the Rise" (an article that is trending higher than normal). Klout also allows the user to mark articles as "Show me less content like this" or "Show me more content like this", thus letting Klout know what sort of articles one finds most appealing.

While I had my doubts that Klout could provide interesting content, I have to admit that I have found quite a few interesting stories in the content stream on my account. I also have to say that I rather doubt that I would have run onto some of these articles on my own. What is more, I have to confess that knowing if an article is "Hot Off the Press", a "Hidden Gem", or "On the Rise" has proven useful. Indeed, articles that are "Hot Off the Press" or a "Hidden Gem" actually seem to do better than those that are supposedly "On the Rise" (which generally don't do was well at all). Now I have to point out that the content I find on Klout does not perform as well as content I create myself or content I find on my own, but it does prove useful as, for lack of better term, "filler material".

Of course, there are some problems with Klout's content sharing service. One is determining the relevance of any given article to a topic. For instance in my stream tonight there was an article on video apps that Klout claimed was relevant to the topic of "Cats", despite the fact that felines were mentioned nowhere in the article. Tonight Klout also claimed that an article on President Obama wanting to raise the minimum wage was somehow relevant to "The Beatles". These are not isolated cases. Indeed, it happens often enough that at any given time there will be quite a few articles that simply aren't to relevant to certain topics at any given time. I think Klout should really give users some means of  alerting them that a particular article is not relevant to the topic to which they have assigned it.

Another problem with Klout's content sharing service is that even when an article is relevant to a particular topic, it might not be of interest to one's followers. One of my topics on Klout is "music". This is pretty much because I post a good deal about classic rock and rhythm and blues on Google+ and Twitter. Unfortunately, Klout often fills my stream with articles on rap What is more, most of these articles are from a specific web site devoted to the genre. Now I would think Klout could tell by my posts across the web that I am not interested in rap as I have never posted about it on any social media site. It would then be nice if Klout would give users a means of blocking content from specific websites. If we had this ability, then I could block that rap website and thus keep its articles from appearing in my stream.

In the end I have to say that, for now at least, it appears that Klout has been more successful in providing interesting content than it has been in determining one's influence on the Web. Of course, there are some rough edges As I mentioned earlier, Klout needs to improve how it determines the relevance of an article to any given topic. They also need to give users a way to block content from sites that consistently publish  articles that simply aren't of interest to them. Over all, however, I have to say I am actually impressed by Klout's content sharing. Given I've never been impressed by Klout before, that is a first.

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